The Tapas Tree, Clarke Quay

The Tapas Tree is my favourite Spanish restaurant in Singapore. In my view, they serve the best Spanish food around. Back when I was single, my friends (the BF was one of my dinner and clubbing kakis then) and I would have dinner here before clubbing.

Some of my colleagues have never tried Spanish food, and I thought I'd introduce them to the Mediterranean cuisine by organising lunch at The Tapas Tree for our March L.A. Lunch.

Studies have shown that Mediterranean diets are very heart-healthy because of the heavy use of olive oil and garlic, so you get to pig out and feel good about pigging out. Tapas are the Spanish version of Cantonese dim sum. Every dish is served in small tasting portions, so you get to try everything.

We started off with the Chorizo Frito ($11), pan-fried Spanish pork sausage in olive oil. This is the Spanish version of our Chinese lup cheong. Salty and texturised, the olive oil provides some moisture to the typically drier sausage.

The Pollo Salteado en Salsa de Setas ($12.80), sauteed chicken breast with button mushroom in cream sauce was a hit. The addition of red and green peppers ensured that the creamy gravy wasn't too heavy.

The Gambas Salteadas al Ajillo con Guindilla ($14.50), sauteed shrimps with garlic and olive oil and chili was deceptively spicy. The prawns weren't very huge, but they were fresh and sweet.

The Solomillo Salteado con Ajillo ($15), beef tenderloin cubes sauteed in olive oil and garlic was another hit. The moist and tender tenderloin cubes was robust and flavourful.

The Champinones Salteados al Ajillo ($9.50) sauteed mushrooms in olive oil and garlic was another hit. I mean, what's not to like about olive oil and garlic? It's such a simple yet effective cooking method of bringing out the natural flavours of the dish.

The Espinacas Salteadas con Pasas y Pinones con Ajo ($8.50), sauteed spinach with garlic, pine nuts and raisins was our fibre of the meal. I love how the raisins added a subtle sweetness to the slightly metallic taste of spinach (spinach is full of iron, which can cause a slightly metallic taste).

The Tortilla de Espinacas ($10), spinach omelette, was healthy and delicious as well. The omelette was more packed than fluffy.

We also ordered the Croquetas de Pollo ($10) and Croquetas de Queso ($10.50), chicken and cheese croquettes. These fritters were lightly battered and crispy.

The Calamares Frito ($11.50), deep-fried battered squid rings served with allioii were also another hit, crispy, firm and mildly sweet.

The Calamares a la Plancha ($11.50), grilled squid with allioii were also fresh, juicy and cooked just right to the point where they weren't rubbery.

The Cangrejo de concha blanda con Allioii ($14), deep-fried breaded soft-shell crab was one of 2 disappointments, the soft-shell crab wasn't very fresh.

The Vieiras con Salsa de Azafran ($16), baked scallops with saffron was the other disappointment. The scallops were similarly not fresh. The mushrooms and ham were delectable though.

The Cordero con Salsa de Mente ($19.50), grilled lamb racks with brown mint sauce was another winner. The spiced lamb racks were succulent, tender and marinated very well.

Of course we got the Paellas, the classic Spanish rice dish flavoured with saffron and seafood broth. The Paella de Marisco ($38 for small), with squid, mussels, shrimp, fish, vegetables and eggs was lovely. The fragrant rice was moist and richly flavoured and the seafood was plentiful and fresh.

We ordered the Paella de Carne ($36), with chorizo, chicken, ham, beef, pork, vegetables and eggs for the meat-lovers. This was similarly aromatic and delectable.

Some of us still had space in our tummies for dessert. The Churros con Chocolate ($8.50), the classically famous Spanish dessert with homemade chocolate was wonderfully decadent and yummy.

The Flan de Caramelo ($7.50) was a letdown, it wasn't very smooth and it was too heavy in texture.

Update 12 April 2011: The Tapas Tree has had a change of management and is now called "Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar"

The Tapas Tree
Clarke Quay Block D
#01-08, River Valley Road
Tel: 6837 2938
Open from 11.30am to midnight on weekdays and 11.30am to 1am on weekends and public holidays
Website: www.thetapastree.com/

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