The Place The truth is I have never stepped foot into the previous Alkaff Mansion when it was an Italian restaurant. Fast forward a few years, the centurion old historic building reopened last month and is now home to three dining concepts. Managed by 1-Group, TXA Pintxo Bar located at level one of the mansion focuses on Basque cuisine, with Wildseed Cafe occupying a separate space on the same level. UNA, a familiar Spanish restaurant name which was previously at Rochester Park, occupies level two of The Alkaff Mansion.
Looking at 1-Group dining concepts the past few years, there is an obvious penchant for conserved heritage buildings such as The Summerhouse and The Garage, and I can see why The Alkaff Mansion is easily set to be the best dining destination. The lush garden at its entrance is a luxury of space in Singapore.
The setting of TXA Pintxo Bar sets a fine casual mood, denominated by the long bar seating by the counter for an authentic Basque dining experience. I didn’t dine at UNA this time, but it is definitely one of those places to keep in mind for a romantic date night.
The Food Pintxo takes centrestage of Basque cuisine, akin to the more mainstream Spanish tapas we are more used to hearing. I started with the Aceituna Rellena De Vermouth (S$2.90), a little olive stuffed with vermouth jelly and orange zest and topped with fennel flower.
The next one if one of my favourite, Crudiente de Jamon (S$5). This crispy Iberico cracker is sandwiched with smoked cod roe sauce, where the smoked cod roe sauce has elements like mascarpone, lemon zest and mentaiko. The flavour is a little salty in a good way.
The Pintxo Igeldo (S$6.90) is an interesting combination of confit tomato, tuna, anchovies and piparra, which is a type of Basque chilli pepper and it is not at all spicy. The tuna used in this pintxo is also sourced from Basque Country. While the anchovies lend the dish a slightly fishy flavour, it is well negated by other pronounced elements here like the piparra.
Another traditional Basque dish, the Boquerones con piperrada (S$3.90) plays on peppers by having piquillo cream on the toast, topped with sauteed onions, green and red bell pepper, and sundried black olive. The flavour is rich and satisfying, and I like the smooth taste of the piquillo cream.
For cheese lovers, the Crema de Roquefort Con Manzana Y Nueces (S$4.90) is a must try. This dish uses a type of blue cheese from Southern France, Roquefort cheese, which is made into white cream here. The blue cheese flavour is not that pungent, and is well-balanced by the apple jam and walnuts. Not a self-professed blue cheese lover, but this dish is acceptable for me.
Another easy snack to share is the Croquetas de Jamon Iberico (S$14 for 4 pieces). These cured ham croquettes are crispy on the outside.
As I would have realised by now, pepper is quite a prominent ingredient in Basque cuisine, which can’t be more true in this dish. The Pimiento Del Padron Con (S$12) is not your usual peppery dish, as these fried Padron peppers are only lightly seasoned with maldon salt. There is an option to add some Jamón ibérico (Supplement of Jamón ibérico de bellota 5J (5 gram) at $3) to it for an added dimension of flavour. This dish goes well with beer, and think of it as a “healthy” beer grub.
Peppers stuffed with fish? It is not often I come across a dish like the Piquillos Rellenos de Brandada (S$4), which was pretty intriguing the moment it was served. The piquillo peppers are stuffed with Alantic Cod Fish and served with piquillo emulsion, and the result is a strongly flavoured and well-executed dish. As with my encounter with piquillo in the previous dish, this is not at all spicy.
Another dish which I enjoyed is the Txangurro a la Donostiarra (S$14), basically gratinated crab in a shell. The highlight here is that it uses local fresh flower crab, something which I appreciate in restaurants these days. The base of the dish is a sofrito base prepared with leek, onion and tomato, before brandy and crabmeat are added. It is then topped with bread crumbs and butter before being grilled. This is my first time having crabmeat this way, and the flavours are strong here primarily from the sofrito sauce. Go for it.
Donuts are common but how about squid ink donuts? Go for the Black Rabas “A Fuego Negro” (S$22 for 5 pieces) which is surprisingly good. Just beware not to talk to anyone immediately or smile widely before drinking some water.
Meat options include the likes of the Pulpo a la Parrilla con Pure de Nabo (S$8), where the grilled octopus is done to the right texture. The octopus is rested on delicious turnip cream along with honey and picada oil, which adds a nice balance to the octopus.
For something more substantial, the Carrillera estofada al vino tinto con espuma de patata (S$8) can’t go that wrong. The beef cheek is stewed with red wine, along with potato foam and caramelised apple cubes with parsley and garlic oil.
If you are still craving for a simple snack, the Tortilla de Patatas (S$4.90) or Spanish Omlette here is a relatively thick and filling serving, which is a mix of potatoes and eggs.
For desserts, the Tarta de Queso “LA VIÑA (S$4.90) is a simple cheesecake to conclude the meal. The crust is slightly burnt, while I feel that the cheese flavour could be more intense. I couldn’t view cheesecakes the same way anymore, after I had the divine one from Olivia Restaurant & Lounge.
Alternatively, there’s always the customary Churros con Chocolate Picante (S$7.90). The churros here is served with spicy pecan chocolate sauce, so there’s a tinge of chilli oil element in the sauce.
Rants The offbeat location of The Alkaff Mansion makes it inconvenient to access without a car.
Will I Return Again? TXA Pintxo Bar is a one of its kind destination. The charming location and mansion, coupled with Basque cuisine, are not common in Singapore’s context. For this, it is enough reason to head back.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
The Alkaff Mansion
10 Telok Blangah Green
Tel: +65 6773 0070
TXA Pintxo Bar (Level 1): Tuesday to Sunday: 5pm to 11pm
UNA (Level 2) : Wednesday to Sunday: 6pm to 10.30pm
Wildseed Café (Level 1): 8am to 5pm daily
Ranted by The Ranter