Dining: Spoilt for Choice at Bilbao Restaurant and Gastrobar
The former PUB or Singapore Power building has been transformed after extensive renovations. It is now called TripleOne Somerset. Many restaurants have opened there and the building also houses FairPrice Finest (the top-end supermarket by NTUC FairPrice) on the ground floor.
Located on the second floor is a Spanish restaurant called Bilbao Restaurant and Gastrobar that we wanted to check out. It is owned by a husband and wife team – Umberto Vizcaino and his wife, Lisa Olsen, who is an American.
The restaurant has a seating capacity for 30 diners indoors and 70 at its outdoor terrace garden. Just next to the restaurant is a small retail shop selling Spanish food products and wine.
We were warmly greeted by Lisa Olsen when we went there for lunch. She was chatty and made us feel at home immediately. The indoor dining area had engraved glass panels, while the tables had red and white chequered table cloths that matched the red and gold carpet and black leather chairs.
Before our orders came, we were served a plate of bread with a creamy dip. It tasted more like the focaccia bread. The bread is good to be eaten on its own without the dip.
Bilbao has a paella promotion on Sunday. The Sunday Paella Fiesta comes with a free flow of Paella mixta, bread with tomato, green salad, Jamón Ibērico Platter and desserts. The Paella Fiesta costs S$30++ for adults and S$20++ for kids.
The menu is quite comprehensive and we needed guidance from Lisa Olsen on what to order. We opted for a Sunday Paella Fiesta to share. Under the Tapas section, she recommended Croquetas, which are small savoury croquettes with Jamón (S$8). The dip for the croquetas is tomato-based.
The Jamón Ibērico Platter is the restaurant’s specialty. The finely sliced ham is a tad salty but went well with the bread.
The Piquillos Rellenos de Langostino or roasted Basque Capsicum stuffed with shrimp (S$10) was another tapas we chose. Taste-wise, it was not outstanding.
A dish that stood out was the Ternera en Salsa de Champinõnes or chunks of beef covered in the chef’s luscious mushroom sauce (S$15). It was cooked like a stew and the mushroom sauce was creamy and good as a dip for the bread. The restaurant is very generous with the serving of its bread and the serving staff kept asking whether we wanted more!
Luckily, we only ordered one main course to share as we were quite full after eating so much bread. For the main course, Lisa recommended their new dish in the menu, which was the Zarzuela de Mariscos or seafood stew with three types of fish, clams, and shrimp in a traditional succulent gravy (serves two) (S$42). The three types of fish were grouper, Bacalao and sea bass. The dish came with a creamy stew that had a strong seafood aroma. It tasted like lobster bisque. We did not particularly like this main course as it was salty. Stewing is not the best way to cook seafood as it does not bring out the distinct taste of each ingredient. Instead, they tasted mushy and it was hard to tell whether the fishes were fresh.
The last dish served was Paella with clams, shrimps, sliced chorizo and chicken bits. The grains of saffron rice were fluffy and full of flavour. We particularly liked the burnt bits of the rice.
The dessert that came as part of the Paella Fiesta was a slice of cake, which tasted very ordinary and was dense in texture. We also ordered another dessert, which was the Perfecto de Chocolate or ‘chocolate tart perfection itself’ in English (S$12). The outside crust of the tart was hard with soft melting chocolate in the centre. The tart was not too sweet, which suited our palates.
The restaurant was quiet on a Sunday afternoon. Its serving staff were cheerful and service was quick.
Address: 111 Somerset Road
Monday to Saturday: Noon to midnight
Sunday: Noon to 6 pm
Note: Unless otherwise stated, Biz Daily pays for all the meals reviewed in Dining.