Tapas Club, Orchard Central: Affordable Spanish Food by Binomio Chef Jose Alonso and Michelin Starred Chef Manuel Berganza

The sister restaurant to the popular yoghurt chain llaollao, Tapas Club at Orchard Central is helmed by Santi alumni Chef Jose Alonso and Michelin starred chef Manuel Berganza. Alonso is also chef at Binomio which is one of the best restaurants in 2013. Coincidentally, I was just talking about Alonso last week in my Tono Cevicheria entry, and how I miss his cooking.

Tartar de Atún Con Ajo Blanco ($12.90): Red tuna tartare with tomato and avocado served with almond soup

Generally, there has been a fatigue regarding Spanish tapas in Singapore since its proliferation a few years ago. Only two Spanish restaurants open this year, but what Tapas Club aims to do is to fill the void of Spanish casual dining in Singapore. The prices of the dishes range from $9.90 to $25.

We tried a couple of dishes and none was bad. Their rendition of patatas bravas ($9.90) is different from the traditional version: here, their deep-fried potato cubes are smaller than usual, giving a high surface area, making them crispier. Usually, the sauce is lightly drizzled, but Tapas Club drowns the potato in spicy brava and alioli sauce: very creamy and delicious.

The other dish we like, gambas al ajillo ($12.90) or prawns sautéed with garlic and parsley, has a superb sauce packed with seafood sweetness. Use bread to soak up the goodness.

The meat dishes, we thought, are ok, nothing amiss but nothing exceptional. Caballa con calabaza ($12.90) or Spanish mackerel with pumpkin is bland though fresh with a great texture. Carrillera de ternera con idiazabal ($12.90) comes with 5 tender cubes of stewed beef cheeks in red wine sauce, served with Idiazabal cheese cream. Pluma de cerdo ($15) is char-grilled Ibérico pork shoulder (with smoky grilled vegetables): ok.

Any Spanish restaurant worth their salt serves good paella, and Tapas Club does good ones. Their paella de chorizo ($25) or Ibérico pork and chorizo paella, is moist, the rice plump with stock. The sweetness is accentuated by bits of saltiness of the chorizo.

Even better is the fideuá negra ($25) with cuttlefish and alioli. The noodles have absorbed squid ink thoroughly.

Their desserts are good. The churros ($8) are crispy without being overly thin and doughy. The piña con yoghur ($10), or sautéed pineapple in spices with yoghurt, is sour and cold, great after a meal.

While the food here is satisfactory, I wonder whether Tapas Club is too late to the game. Many of us already have a favorite tapas bar. And besides, when I think about my unforgettable experience at the fine-dining Binomio, Tapas Club pales in comparison. But of course, you pay for you get. Still, Tapas Club makes an easy and delicious meal when you’re in the vicinity. The decor in red exudes a festivity and adds to the fun of dining.

Tapas Club
181 Orchard Rd, Orchard Central #02-13/14/15 Singapore 238896
tel: 3163 7577
Sun-Th & PH 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm; F, Sat & PH eve 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am

Food: 6/10
Price/value: 6/10
Ambience: 6/10

You may be interested in…
FOC Sentosa: Will Probably Be On “Best Restaurants of 2017”
Alma by Juan Amador, Goodwood Park Hotel: Excellent Juan Michelin-Starred Modern Spanish Restaurant in Singapore
Dehesa, Boat Quay: “We Are Not A Tapas Joint. Don’t Ask Us for Paella!”
My Little Spanish Place, Boat Quay

Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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