Unbeatable bar bites at TXA Pintxo Bar
Thanks to the 1-Group, The Alkaff Mansion has been revived and it is now more worthwhile to make the trek up the hill because this stately building houses three concepts.
Wildseed Cafe occupies the outdoors, with UNA on the top level. The new concept gets to be the mansion's centrepiece - housed on the ground level is TXA Pintxo Bar.
As the name implies, TXA serves Basque bar snacks called pintxos (pronounced pincho). So instead of a table, the best seat in the house is at the bar, watching chefs Marta Elvira Segales and Silvana Pascual Romero busy at work.
The pair came to Singapore after they graduated from the Basque Culinary Centre.
They created some of the best bites I have ever had. A lot of the stuff is prepared on the spot, and while they have yet to develop engaging, compelling personas (they seemed almost shy), they let the food be the focus.
You can get your pintxos in two styles: Barra De Pintxos (the pintxos are already on the bar counter and you just point to the ones you want) or Pintxo Al Momento (where you order off the menu).
One of my favourite items was the Crema de Roquefort Con Manzana Y Nueces ($4.90), or Roquefort cream, apple jam and walnut.
This two-bite item was a mix of sweet and salty, with the buttery crunch of walnuts.
Also excellent was Piquillos Rellenos de Brandada de Bacalao ($4), peppers stuffed with bacalao.
Bacalao is salted cod fish, and one of the best culinary inventions known to man. I love it and think it goes with everything.
What elevated it was also the creamy Piquillo emulsion, with a gentle, beguiling heat.
The Carrillera Estofada al Vino Tinto con Espuma de Patata ($8), or beef cheek stewed with red wine, was the star of the evening, going by the reaction of the other diners. It was compliments all around the moment they bit into it.
I liked that the meat was tender without losing flavours, and the creamy comforting potato foam sealed the deal.
Pimiento Del Padron ($12) is for thrill seekers. It seems that 5 per cent of whatever Padron pepper the restaurant gets will be through-the-roof spicy - you just don't know which.
I spent five minutes tentatively biting into peppers in fear of retaliation - I survived.
And I enjoyed the peppers that were fried, with a pinch of salt over it. Also, do pay $3 to add 5g of jamon. It is worth the money.
While I liked almost everything on the pintxo menu, the Croquetas de Jamon Iberico ($14 for four) failed to register.
The ham is mixed into butter, flour, milk and nutmeg, then deep-fried. It reads as if there will be an army of flavours bursting through, but the reality was definitely less exciting.
TXA Pintxo Bar
10 Telok Blangah Green
TEL: 6773 0070