Tucked into the secluded corner on Gemmill Lane off Club Street going into the Ann Siang nightlife district -that also holds F&B powerhouses O Batignolles, Luke’s Oyster Bar and Club Street Social – is recently opened La Pepa.
Spanish tapas bar La Pepa may be named after the Spanish Constitution of Cadiz signed in 1812 on Saint Joseph’s Day, but we reckon it could also be because – considering its name in Spanish referring to something that’s small – of its size and how easy it is to miss if you’re not purposefully looking out for it. But don’t let their similarly small Iberian-focused food and drinks menu fool you; it’s well-curated and punches way above its weight class.
Take its wine list, for example. Compared to the largess some of its contemporaries possess here there’s only around 35 wines and 10 sherries on offer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a visit to La Pepa can be an education in Spanish wine – you’ll find a range of wines that encompass many different Spanish winemaking regions; from the familiar hearty reds of Rioja such as the Hacienda Lopez de Haro Tempranillo 2015 ($16++ per glass, $75++ per bottle) and Malacapa Finca de los Arandino 2014 ($85++ per bottle), to the fresh whites of the Albarino-based Paco y Lola No.12 2015 ($100++ per bottle) from Rias Baixas or the fine Verdejo-led Fenomenal Vila Viniteca 2015 ($105++ per bottle) from Rueda.
It’s a also good way to experience the specific regional wine styles or the indigenous grape varieties of Spain; consider the Bodega Elizalde Mendraka D.O. Txakolina ($90++ per bottle), made using the white Hondarrabi Zuri grape native to Spain’s Basque country, or the signature sherries of Jerez with the Fino Sherry Tio Pepe Gonzales Byass ($22++ per glass, $65++ per bottle).
Aside from the wines there’s draft Spanish beer – Estrella Galicia Clasico ($12++ per pour) – and even Spanish cider with Maeloc Apple Cider Seca ($14++, 330ml bottle) from the same brewery. Like any proper Spanish tapas bar there’s sangria too, of course, of both red and white varieties ($14++ per glass, $60++ per jug). that’s customisable down to your desired sugar level. There’s also something for fans of gin and tonic; the G&T ($15-16++) ranges in price depending on the gin you pick. And true to Spanish tradition, La Pepa offers single-serve portions of tapas for each alcoholic drink you order during happy hour.
Let’s talk about the food. Like the wine list the number of dishes here are modest in number but perfectly expresses the bounty of Spain. The Ensalada Pepa ($22++), for example, is a salad that uses mojama (air dried cured tuna loin from Cádiz), Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese and sherry vinegar, all authentic produce from the country. The croquettes here are a winner – the Jamon Croquetas ($12++) using Serrano ham and the Mushroom Croquetas ($8++) with its filling of minced porcini and brown mushrooms are perfect nibbles with wine.
If you’re looking for something substantial, the paella here are top notch. The Arroz Negro ($30++), or squid ink paella, here is bursting with flavour, and sets itself apart from other such renditions with finely diced squid in rice to give it a more toothsome texture.
La Pepa may be small in size and modest in offerings, but it offers a lot more than its name suggests.
Address 10 Gemmill Lane, Singapore 069251 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to late Mondays to Fridays; 6.30pm to late on Saturdays; closed on Sundays and public holidays
Tel (65) 9830 0908