Spain offers a great many things, but of these, the friendly people, the fantastic food, and the siesta must surely top the list. At Marriott’s Pool Grill, you have these in abundance; Guest chef Albert Ortiz brings the best of Spanish flavours to the region with his thoughtfully-designed Flavours of Spain menu, presented in 3-course lunches ($35++) or 4-course dinners ($58++). And while the dishes may not be the easiest things to pronounce, they are very, very easy to enjoy indeed.
Today’s menu opened with an appetizer of Cured Spanish mackerel, smoked eggplant mayo, truffle caviar blini; lime-cured mackerel, pearl-white and glistening, perches on an elegant plate of porcelain. Earthy notes from the truffle and smoked eggplant mingle amiably with the briny sea-salt flavours of caviar and mackerel, land and sea complementing each other like waves lapping against a shore.
The second appetizer to arrive was the Pan-seared scallop, “sofrito” puree, chorizo “migas”, caviar oil, dill; the scallop is a fitting centerpiece for the dish, browned perfectly while still retaining its characteristic bounce and bite. The delicacy is then crowned with a set of golden caviar jewels and placed amongst a bed of crunchy chorizo that’s been carefully crumbed to resemble sand. A smooth dollop of sofrito sits alongside, providing a satisfying savouriness that completes the dish.
The wonderful thing about four course meals is that after your first dish, a second one arrives that gets to call itself a starter—so reminding you that, in other words, the meal has only just begun. Next up was the starter of Grilled octopus, crusty pork jowl, buttered mashed potato, smoked Spanish paprika oil; the crusted jowl is remarkably tender, and the pork fat delicious, sweet and flavourful. Pausing to sigh in satisfaction at this point in the meal is perfectly understandable behavior. A well-cooked octopus is a dream, and this it was—subtly sweet and salted lightly, it occupies an ephemeral balance between bouncy crunch and yielding tenderness.
The second starter to arrive was the Smoked salmon mi-cui, spinach, black tea cream, whipped goat cheese, candied grapefruit; salmon done sous vide—we’re really getting into the pronunciation woods by now—is smooth, silken and clothed in flakes of seaweed. Almost the texture of a mousse, the black tea cream and spinach give lightness to the dish, while candied grapefruit and walnuts introduce elements of sweetness. The whipped goat’s cheese drew mixed reactions—some loved it for the intensity it provided, while others found it slightly overpowering. I mixed in portions of the cheese in between bites of salmon, and found it to be just the right balance. Still, while each component was tasty in itself, the flavours in this dish unfortunately just don’t seem to gel as well as one might hope they would. Go for the octopus, you won’t be disappointed you did.
The first of the mains was the Braised beef cheek, olive oil crushed potato, baby carrots, passion fruit; falling gently apart at the slightest twist of a fork, the beef cheek is bathed in a hearty sauce that accentuates its rich, meaty flavour. One mistake you do not want to make would be to overlook the potatoes as being just another portion of mashed potatoes. Textured with the distinct aroma of olive oil, this is a refreshing variant of a spud that too many see as commonplace. Finished with a hint of passion fruit dust, this is a tasteful dish that makes for a solid main course.
Next to arrive was the Char-grilled black codfish, garlic “llauna” mousseline, grilled Japanese leek. Chef Albert tells of how this menu is in part a reflection of his time in Asia, and here the influences from his time spent in the region really show. The mousseline is an aromatic blend of ingredients like ginger, garlic and onions that communicates a distinctly Asian palette. Today’s variant of cod wasn’t char-grilled, but was instead cooked to a delightful texture that was at once moist and delicate.
Dessert followed soon after, with Dark chocolate ice cream, char-grilled banana, gorgonzola cheese, caramelized butter bread leading the charge. Something about cheese never fails to arouse strong opinion, but then again, only the best things do. The gorgonzola cheese here is a surprising but remarkably tasty complement to the chocolate, its arresting aroma and savoury-saltiness drawing out the dark chocolate’s sweetness in a way that little else can. If gorgonzola isn’t a thing for you, pass it on to your dining companion, they’ll be endlessly grateful for it. Grilled banana completes the flavour triad with the chocolate and cheese, while the browned butter wraps it all in a wholesome, nutty fragrance.
The final dish to arrive was the Lemon tart, Italian merengue, candied grapefruit, pistachio. It is a beauty to behold, bold colours scattered across the plate like an artist’s palette. Think of it as a deconstructed lemon tart—refreshing, bright, an eclectic assortment of colours, textures and flavours that’s just exciting to watch as it is to eat. It is a classy finish, and a fitting end to a very enjoyable night out at Marriott’s Pool Grill.
Guest chef Albert Ortiz
With a gentle breeze drifting in, and the ebb and splash of water in the background, the vibe here is less heart of the city and much more holiday by the Mediterranean coast. At times like these, the best thing to do is to simply kick back, relax, and discover for yourself the secret joys of a mid-week siesta.
Thank you Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel for the invitation.
|Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel
320 Orchard Road
Reservations: 6831 4605
|Flavours of Spain at Pool Grill
Spanish Set Lunch and Dinner
15 February – 13 March 2016
3-Course Lunch: $35++ per person
4-Course Dinner: $58++ per person