Spanish-food lovers in Singapore will probably be familiar with Sabio, the tapas place at Duxton Hill. After all, this hugely popular establishment by the Deliciae group has been a cornerstone of the rejuvenated Duxton Hill enclave for five years now – and for Singapore, that’s a seriously long time.
A pioneer in spreading the Spanish cuisine gospel, Sabio feels like a little piece of Spain with its small cosy space, dim warm lighting, and interiors that sport traditional Spanish elements with contemporary influences. You can choose to sit outside, at the bar counter (recommended to better soak in the ambience), or at the plush booth seats along the side of the restaurant.
The beauty about Spanish tapas is the luxury of trying and sharing everything, much like Chinese dim sum. Except, the menu here is much more extensive than its eastern sibling, sporting an impressive variety of well-priced hot and cold small plates.
We started off with the classic Gazpacho ($8) – cold tomato-based soup served over crispy croutons in a large glass, delicious and highly refreshing in Singapore’s humidity. Ensalada de queso de cabra ($18), a tasty salad of baby spinach, red onions, cherry tomatoes and walnut with generous bits of goat cheese mixed in, was another appetizing dish chockful of flavour, thanks to the fresh cheese.
The signature Pan con boquerones y tapenade ($12) – mini baguette topped with green olive tapenade and meaty anchovy was simple and good for a quick bite, though we found the bread here to be less crispy than its counterpart at Quayside Isle. We absolutely loved the Almejas al ajillo ($15) – clams in garlic sauce – which was quickly finished in just a few minutes, and the leftover sauce we soaked up with bread.
Having said that, the star tapas in our books was Pulpo Con Sofrito ($15), a deceiving plain-looking dish of sunny side up egg, baby octopus, and sofrito mushroom pickle. A recipe by acclaimed culinary host and TV presenter Angela May, the egg is broken and mixed with the other ingredients, and the result is just marvellous. Coming close was Gambas al pil pil ($17) – prawns cooked in virgin olive oil with garlic and grilled red peppers. The dish featured a creamy bisque-like sauce which went great with the prawns.
Purportedly one of the best in the country, Sabio’s wonderfully-fried Churros ($11) were crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Served with hommade chocolate or caramel sauce, if you have to order only one dessert, get this.
After five years, Sabio Tapas Bar remains a fantastic place for quality and affordable Spanish food. It’s a good place to let loose and chill after work, with a decent selection of Spanish wines and cocktails (sangria!) to be had. The place is full of spirit, and the weekends get pretty busy from 7pm onwards, so make sure you head down early to secure a table.
If this sounds like the place for you, Sabio Tapas Bar’s All-You-Can-Eat menu (not available on Sundays) offers a wide selection of 24 different tapas at only $39.90++. On Sundays, indulge in the Hangover Brunch with even more choices at $49.90++ per person. Enjoy free flow tapas and desserts polished off with soft drinks, juices, hot coffee, and tea. Muchos tapas awaits!
Sabio Tapas Bar is located at 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591, p. 6690 7562. Open Mon-Thu 12pm – 11.30pm, Fri 12pm – 12am, Sat 5pm – 12am, Sun 11.30am – 11.30pm. Reservations for bar counter only.