It's been more than a year since I last met up with Lips for our girls-only dinner, as she'd been busy being a yummy mummy of twins. Now that the bubs have somewhat settled into a routine, we took the opportunity to go a little farther out of her immediate hinterland, and indulge in a languid dinner over Spanish food at the new-ish UNA.
UNA is the Spanish reincarnation of what was formerly known as One Rochester. The head chef had heretofore helmed Bomba, a now-defunct restaurant I'd missed out on back when it was at Martin Road, so I made it a point to pencil in UNA for a visit.
Parking is a breeze now that interest in the previously dining enclave du jour has waned over the years as it lost its shiny and new appeal, and reservations are hardly necessary. Still, call ahead to make sure the picturesque restaurant isn't booked out for private events.
The food's a mixed bag of memorable highs and pedestrian fare. But while the food may not be strikingly fantastic to draw diners from around the island, the gorgeous setting might. With its candlelit and lush backdrop, and tranquil ambience, UNA makes for a wonderful date-night spot.
The Gambas a la Jio ($28) of fresh prawns slathered in a thick jus sweet with the essence of prawn stock, and seasoned with crisp fried garlic, chilli flakes and seasalt. A change-up from the usual olive oil-infused version, and while I would have preferred the olive oil version, this was lovely.
Complimentary bread, warm and fluffy, paired with an excellent extra virgin olive oil, were really handy in wiping off all that prawn sauce.
I wasn't a fan of the Pinchos Morunos ($25), pork fillet marinated in paprika and garlic, and served with piquillo pepper. Though commendably juicy, this was too full-bodied and overwhelmed the delicate sauce.
The picture belies the actual scale of the Iberico Ham Croqueta ($14) creamy bechamel croquettes dotted with iberico ham nubbins, as these were the biggest fried balls I've ever had. Well-balanced and scrumptious, this was a must-try.
Another hit was the Scallops la Plancha ($26), beautifully seared to perfection, and sided with meltingly tender veal cheeks, iberico crisps, velvety mash, and a robust red wine jus.
The highlight was undoubtedly the Bonuelos de Belacao ($23), sumptuous salted cod fritters contrasted with a drizzling of a bittersweet and piquant orange sauce. So good I took away 3 portions of these for the Hubs.
For dessert, the Churros & Chocolat ($14) of crispy dough sticks with dark chocolate syrup and honey ice-cream is a fail-safe. This was very well done.
UNA at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
Tel: 6884 6884 / 6773 0070
Open Mondays to Saturdays for dinner from 6pm to 11pm;
Friday lunches from 12noon to 2pm;
Sunday brunch from 11am to 4pm