Age-old northern Spanish recipes are reborn as Chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive brings modern techniques into play, offering diners a special blend of Basque heritage, culture and culinary innovation unique to Singapore.
Located in Chinatown, an area with a growing reputation for quality restaurants and bars, the latest casual fine-dining culinary concept from Unlisted Group is Basque Kitchen by Aitor, a soulful celebration of northern Spain’s most distinctive flavours.
Fresh from leading the acclaimed Iggy’s Restaurant on Orchard to its first Michelin star, co-owner and Head Chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive, who earned his spurs at The Fat Duck and Mugaritz no less, offers an abundance of exciting dishes crafted and created with a modern twist in the traditional Basque style.
Small and intimate, Basque Kitchen is situated in Amoy Street, in the space recently vacated by the excellent but short-lived Blackwattle, and retains much of the former occupant’s beloved intimate ambience.
The main, elongated dining area and the bar upstairs have been refreshed and the addition of a small kitchen-facing counter offers a great opportunity to interact directly with the chefs in the open kitchen. The upper floor also features a private dining room, set just off the well-stocked and well-tended bar.
Serving lunch and dinner, it’s the food that takes centrestage at Basque Kitchen, presented via a medley of extremely well-priced set lunch, dinner and tasting menus, along with a select à la carte choice, all backed by a long drinks list and affable service.
Aside from pintxos, the dishes of Basque cuisine are probably quite unfamiliar so the five- or eight-course tasting menu could be the best way to go. The degustation-style tasting menus can be paired with wine or diners can self-select from a drinks menu that includes Basque favourites like txakoli cider, a good selection of wine by the glass and a large choice of whisky and bourbon.
After a round of tasty amuse-bouches, courses like the rich and smooth ankimo start to arrive, a thick slice of fish liver with escabetxe and carrot gel topped off with Yarra Valley trout roe. Moving on, you are invited to indulge in a steady stream of small plates, including the risotto-like oxtail bomba rice. Inspired by Japanese gyu-don, the bomba rice features prime oxtail, confit quail egg yolk and chive aioli – there’s a vegetarian version too.
For the carnivores, txuleta, bone-in Basque steak, is a must, like the charcoal-grilled Angus prime rib served with classic mashed potato and jus. Meanwhile the battered grouper with piquillo espuma served with sweet peas offers a delicious and elegant fish alternative.
Wrap it up with a choice of desserts like textures of chocolate and the distinctive cherries and chocolate, a taste sensation with pickled cherries, cherry coconut foam and rich chocolate mousse.
The Basque country has a long and impressive culinary tradition and, on reflection, it’s a surprise that this is the first regional restaurant in Singapore. Having sampled the delights however, one feels that it may not be the last as the city’s perceptive gourmands are sure to get a taste for it.
Exquisite Taste June – August 2019