For an idea of this restaurant's atmosphere, think Gypsy Kings blaring in an environment laden with Latin ornaments and dark furniture! Yes, dine here ... More
Esmirada Grill & Wine Bar
For an idea of this restaurant's atmosphere, think Gypsy Kings blaring in an environment laden with Latin ornaments and dark furniture! Yes, dine here and you will be served Mediterranean fare in a loud environment. Popular with expatriates and tourists, the food is hearty and the kebabs, chargrilled to perfection, are firm and juicy. The other dishes such as couscous with lamb, Spanish paella and salads are laden with ingredients, and while slightly overbearing at times, also challenges your palate to the maximum. The wine list comprises of mainly wines from Europe.
My wife and I have stayed many times just up the road and used to eat at Esmirada frequently, even bringing colleagues and students here for special occasions - we loved it then, but frankly, my experience this evening was the worst I have ever had in Singapore and I have been coming here a number of times a year for ten years, for periods of days or weeks at a time, and on one occasion for two months, living just up the road from this restaurant.
The Greek salad was pitiful, the greens were not green, the olives almost non-existent and the feta cheese bore no resemblance to any feta I know. But that was not the worst - the chicken skewer, which was always my favourite, and always consisted of succulent pieces of tender, boneless meat, was anything but this time - it consisted of mainly bony pieces with little or no meat on them. The lamb was OK, nothing to write home about, but also not something we could complain about. When I tried to call the waiters to speak to them, I was unable to get their attention for over ten minutes. I then approached the maitre'd (or whatever you call her) and asked to speak the manager. He took his sweet time coming on over and then was not accommodating at all - told us that customers liked this new approach. He did not offer any apologies for our disappointing meal - we started off being quite polite, but at the end I was furious at his attitude and told him we should not pay for the chicken. He reluctantly agreed to deduct this cost but was still quite rude. We waited a long time and no-one brought us our check, so we got up to find him to tell him that we would not be paying for such substandard food and service and left. I have never done this before, but then I've never had such bad food and such bad treatment before either.
Will I go back again? Frankly, I don't know. I would like to believe that this was an aberration as my wife and I have such wonderful memories of many great meals and evenings at Esmirada, but I am afraid that this may reflect a possible new change in management or a new chef, or something of that nature. Time will tell.......
I went to Esmirada alone after seeing it the day before while exploring; I am in Singapore on business. I was seated close to the building, outside where I had a good view of the goings on in the courtyard. The only bad thing was the piped in music that continued to play alonside the live music at Chijmes itself...oops! Other than that, the service was average--OK, but not special.
The food was very good. I had a Greek salad with a variety of greens and the usual veggies and feta cheese. The feta was very bland, not tangy like that found in the Mediterranean, but it worked OK. The salad was huge, and from looking at the menu and the other tables, it seems Esmirada assumes you will share; this is a problem when dining alone. The clear winner though was my main course, the couscous with lamb shank. The meat was falling-off-the-bone tender, the vegetables and sauce gently spiced, and the couscous fluffy. I ate every bit of it except the bone! Given the huge salad, a glass of wine, and the main course, there was no room for dessert.
All-in-all, an enjoyable meal. I would go back, but probably only with at least one other person so as to be able to sample more things. Value for the money was reasonable at $70 including 10% service charge.
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