The past year has seen a dramatic change in lifestyle for the two of us, for the very simple reason that two has become three. When the PigPig found she was pregnant, that limited our usual eating excursions due to a combination of pregnancy symptoms as well as dietary limitations. Now that the little one is out, we are still adapting to life, and going out for meals with him in tow is particularly challenging.
Thankfully, we employed a confinement nanny for the first two months, and 7 weeks in decided to abandon baby at home and have a date night by ourselves. Having missed out on a holiday to Barcelona recently to take care of baby, we thought we’ll have some Spanish cuisine here in Singapore. Therefore, Catalunya seemed quite appropriate.
The 120 seat restaurant is located in Fullerton Pavilion, an outpouching on the waters of Marina Bay, within spitting distance of the Merlion. Internally, it was beautifully modern and sleek, unsurprising given it was conceived by an award-winning design firm. Lots of the touches inside had a distinct Spanish flair, most noticeably the big bulls head (whatever your thoughts may be on bullfighting), although subtler notes such as the predominant usage of cacti (given Spain’s large arid swathes of land). However, some people may find the ambient lighting a bit too dark, and I noticed a couple on a separate table using their iPhone to read the menu!
“SPHERICAL OLIVES”. Given that the executive chef has had a decade’s experience at el Bulli, it should be no surprise that these olives were not what they seemed. Instead, they were little balloons of olive-flavoured goo. While this kind of technique is nothing new, I have to say that the skin is the thinnest I’ve encountered so far. However, the usage of molecular cuisine to this doesn’t add anything particularly interesting, and I think eating qualityy “real” olives is actually much better.
“AVOCADO ROLL”. Very reminiscent of a sushi maki roll, this had generous portions of lobster meat with avocado, salmon roe and caviar on top, sitting on what felt to be a soy-based-sauce. Perhaps a tad uninspired and somewhat unusual in a Spanish restaurant, but it was actually pretty good with all the flavours combining well without overshadowing the lobster taste.
“FOIE GRAS AND EEL ESCALIBADA”. Apparently a traditional Catalan dish, it is essentially a layering with a bed of eggplant topped with pepper, foie gras and eel. The overall combination of flavours was good, and a nice touch was a slight sugary glaze giving a slight crunch as well as a little sweetness to the dish. However, I have to admit though that I didn’t taste the foie (although the PigPig said she did) so I wish they had given more.
“CROQUETAS DE JAMÓN”. However, the croquettes here were amply provisioned with ham. In fact, perhaps there was a tad too much ham, as it was a bit on the salty side. Other than that, it had a creamy interior with a mild cheesy taste. Juxtaposing that was a thin but mildly crunchy exterior (possibly made with panko?).
“TORTILLA DE TRAMPO”. It certainly doesn’t get more Spanish than a tortilla. However, this is anything but humble, with a creamy interior oozing egg yolk. There was also a generous application of chorizo within, giving a richer taste.
“ROASTED MEAT CANELÓN”. In one of my favourite plates of the night, a mix of beef and chicken meat along with a hint of mushroom was wrapped in a crepe before being smothered in a luxuriously decadent cheesy sauce. The chicken flavor was a bit anonymous, but the beef and mushroom combined wonderfully for a deep and rich aroma. I was a bit worried about the cheese (can’t abide strong cheese smells) but this was just right, without overpowering the crepe.
“BOMBAS DE LA BARCELONETA”. Essentially, a ball of minced meat inside another ball of potato. While the potato was quite fluffy, the meat filling was a bit so-so, lacking any real feature to stand out. It says a lot that without the mayonnaise and bravas sauce on top, this would have been particularly bland. This would have been passable as a standard tapas in a typical bar, but in this surroundings for this price, I expect more.
“OCTOPUS A FEIRA”. Such as this for example. The chunky pieces of octopus had a charred surface to give extra aroma, but still remained tender and soft. Based on past experience, this really spoke volumes about the chef’s skill, as I tend to be served octopus pieces resembling chopped car tyres rather than actual food. There were also a few smaller pieces of pork belly. They were not bad, but really I wish I had more octopus. All this was inside a frothy airy sauce which may be light on substance, but heavy on the flavour.
“TORRIJA”. Apparently a traditional dish more from central Spain than Catalonia, this consists of two parts. One being some bread (brioche in this case) which have been soaked in milk (for 12 hours along with some herbs and spices too). The other (which I doubt is traditional at all) is ice cream made from smoked milk. The smokiness was very strong and the ice cream would have been difficult to eat on its own. However, paired with the sweetish bread, the combination suddenly becomes a brilliant pairing with a lot of character.
“LEMON PIE”. Catalunya’s slightly different take on a lemon pie, this had the lemon custard sitting in the middle, with the meringue inside a cone. The lemon custard was as promised by the menu, full of zest and lemon essence, and would have been a little bit too tart if not for the sweetness of the meringue for balance. The cone served as the alternative to a tart’s pastry, but more delicate.
I had a glass of red Malbec, which was decent if not spectacular. The PigPig meanwhile had a cocktail meanwhile, called Lola. Featuring a mixture of sherry and blue cheese syrup (!!), this was truly something unique. I personally found it abhorrent, but I cannot take blue cheese. The better half however loved it, finding the nutty cheese combining well with the sweetness of the sherry (cheese is typically eaten with a sweet preserve too so I guess this is a variant thereof). She also found the taste slightly reminiscent of durian (and I’ve had Caucasian friends comment that durian smelled a bit like cheese).
Altogether, the bill came up to about $230 for the two of us. Service throughout was good, if not particularly striking or noteworthy. The best interaction was with a Spanish staff, who was clearly pleased when I declared the torrija to be brilliant.
Overall, the food was of very high quality, with a few exceptional dishes sampled. A couple seemed a bit uninspired and lacking in creativity, but was still tasty. To put it another way, even the weakest dish was of above average quality. However, most of the dishes we sampled were cheese-intensive and heavy. We noted a lot of people ordering the suckling pig (which was cut into pieces by the table with a plate) and lobster rice, but we opted against ordering that to sample more tapas dishes. Perhaps next time with a bigger group.
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay Singapore 049327
General enquiries: +6534 0188
Reservations: +6534 0886