Tapas,24 Singapore is the wildly-popular tapas bar chain’s first outlet in Asia, offering an immersive taste of Barcelona-style tapas culture in Singapore.
If there’s one trend that’s taken Singapore’s culinary scene by storm in recent time it’s Spanish-style tapas. We’re all familiar with the Spanish pre-dinner dining concept – small plates, bite-sized, good for sharing, and – more importantly – great for washing down with an alcoholic beverage, preferably beer, wine, or a gin and tonic. And we’re not just talking about Spanish cuisine. Many other international cuisines too have adopted and modified for their own this style of serving and eating.
But recent entrant Tapas,24 Singapore proves that the Spanish still do it best. Tapas,24 Singapore is an offshoot of Barcelona’s award-winning tapas bar chain helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Carles Abellán, opened here in collaboration with L’Angélus Group (which runs fine dining French restaurant L’Angélus and French bistro Les Bouchons).
The new tapas concept is located at Robertson Quay, taking over the space previously occupied by the now-defunct Mediterranean bar restaurant Summerlong. While Summerlong was decked out along a more nautical, seaside theme, Tapas,24 is emblazoned with Spanish flair – pops of colour from its terracotta floor tiles, red seats and blue-tiled walls.
The food is classic Spanish, with just a couple of more contemporary touches for modern, cosmopolitan sensibilities. Aside from some Barcelona favourites, you’ll find familiar tapas dishes from across regional Spain. There’s the very well-executed Octopus Galician Style inspired by the northwest of the country, the tender charred octopus dressed in olive oil and paprika atop sliced boiled potatoes.
Representing the Balearic islands is the absolutely scrumptious Spanish Tortilla “Mallorcan Style”. Unlike the usual chunky omelette served to you at room temperate at other tapas places, this is a Betanzos version comes piping hot with the insides still runny just the way we like it. From Basque country? Buñuelos de Bacalao, or crispy salt cod fritters. Otherwise there are the ubiquitous Spanish tapas options – the highly prized Jamon Iberico de Bellota, the far more humble Patatas Bravas, or Pimientos del Padron (deep-fried Padron peppers).
But it’s the Catalan specialties that you really need to come here for. The Pan Con Tomate is one of the simplest staples in Catalan cuisine, featuring just five ingredients – tomato, bread, salt, olive oil, and garlic. When done right though, as it is here in Tapas,24 Singapore, it is heavenly. Then there’s the Barceloneta’s Bomba, round potato-based fritters made with any kind of filling; here it features both beef and pork.
Another Catalan deep-fried tapas favourite is the croqueta, although we’re less enamoured by their version. Here the Croquetas de Pollo is stuffed with pulled chicken, but we find the strong-tasting sauce the chicken was braised in overwhelmed the flavour of the bird. We didn’t try the Catalonian Roasted Canelon, the region’s Italian-inspired stuffed pasta bake, but it’s rare to see this specialty in a Spanish restaurant here.
Paella adherents looking for an authentic version at Tapas,24 may be slightly confused. Its Paella de Gambas al Ajillo takes two tapas favourites – seafood paella and gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) and combines them in one. But the flavours are authentically Catalan, and as bold and briny as those paellas you might find in a La Rambla tapas eatery.
A few dishes on the Tapas,24 menu though will take you off the beaten Catalan path. The Avocado con Pesto, of sliced avocadoes grilled in a Josper oven into deliciously tender submission – and then topped with pesto, pine nuts and feta cheese – is more eastern Mediterranean. We absolutely love the Clams “Ajillo” in Sherry, which sees fresh manila clams cooked in a fino and amontillado sherry blend. But the inclusion of grilled fresh artichoke pieces in it isn’t common.
And while we’re on the topic of wine, Tapas;24 Singapore offers a healthy selection of wines, with most – if not all – of the Spanish ones specially brought in. More importantly for wine lovers they’re mostly priced under S$100 per bottle, which means a good night out without breaking the bank. They are available by the glass too, so you can explore the length and breadth of Spanish wine styles from cava (At Roca Brut Reserva) to txakolina (Hika Gipuzkoa Txakolina) and Rueda Verdejo (Javier Sanz V Malcorta Verdejo) to the Tempranillo-led vanilla bombs of Rioja (Bodegas Franco-Espanolas Rioja Bordon Reserva).
Otherwise there are street-style cocktails too, ranging from your favourite sangrias to aperitifs and various spirit-forward tipples. We found ourselves falling in love with the El Rubujito, a sherry highball made with fino sherry, lemon-lime soda, and mint. This could just be the best new way to enjoy sherry, a wine that’s fallen out of fashion.
“Singapore was the natural destination for us when considering our first Asian outpost. We have no doubt that Singapore’s nation of foodies will embrace Tapas,24,” shared Chef Carles Abellán.
Singapore may already be bustling with Spanish tapas concepts, but Tapas,24 looks to set itself apart with its classic Catalan cooking, lively vibes, and a drinks menu that puts most others to shame. Embrace it we shall.
Address 60 Robertson Quay, #01-04 The Quayside, Singapore 238252 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 11pm Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays