I first came to know of 1-TwentySix about 3 years back. It was New Year’s Eve then and instead of diving into the mosh pit called The Padang to catch the fireworks display, my friends and I headed down to East Coast Park instead. Where we seated ourselves on the beach, background music was playing to the tunes of Rick Astley, Bananarama and Human League, music legends of days long past. As a mambo jambo fan, it inevitably caught my attention and I was soon drawn to the source of the commotion, finding myself at the doorstep of 1-TwentySix.
They were hosting their New Year party and the place was packed with well-heeled revelers adorned in cocktail dresses and suave outfits, more than occasionally clinking their slender champagne glasses to foster in the new year or more likely, to find an excuse to get wasted. And yes, that lifestyle called to me.
There’s 2 seating areas to 1-TwentySix; the sheltered restaurant area that caters for semi fine-dining meals that are identical to what is available at 1-Rochester and the al fresco area that serves a separate newly launched tapas menu, which explains the rationale for this tasting invitation.
I was there on a Friday night and was entertained by resident band EJS and their impressive array of acoustic tunes, which turned the outdoor restaurant setting into a rather ideal place to just catch up with friends over a cocktail or beer with some tapas.
It seems that the idea of tapas has been catching on in Singapore lately with the openings of relatively new establishments such as Kaixo, Binomio, Los Primos and not to mention the highly hyped about Esquina all holing themselves around the Tanjong Pagar vicinity. 1-TwentySix’s tapas menu proved to be slightly different from the above said Spanish tapas joints though, as the tapas items here weren’t limited to simply Spanish finger food but played on several cuisines like French and Italian as well.
The Tapas Platter ($42++), comprised of Deep Fried Salt & Pepper Squid, Gambas pil pil (aka Prawns in Chili & Garlic), Potato Bravas, Spicy Meatballs and Chorizo with Garbanzo Bean, all very traditional Spanish tapas dishes but nothing that came across as overly exciting.
I much preferred the The Charcuterie Platter ($28++), consisting of Jamon Serrano, Proscuitto de Parma and Contechino Sausages (a type of Pork sausage). Cured hams taste more or less the same to me but there’s a number of distinctions from one another. For example in this platter, a difference between the Jamon Serrano and the Parma ham is where it is sourced from, the former being sourced from Spain while the latter being sourced from Italy. Another difference would be the duration in which the hams are cured. Spanish hams are usually cured for longer durations compared to French or Italian hams and hence gives off a stronger flavour but honestly, it’s really quite hard to tell.
Even within the same country, not all pigs are born equal. For Spanish hams, Jamon Serrano is more or less an entry level breed, relatively affordable and eaten by the masses. In contrast, the Jamon Iberico (aka Iberian pigs), which would be the “wagyu” of Spanish pigs. And even amongst the “wagyu”, there are of varying grades, where there is a type of free-range Iberian pig which feeds on acorns called Jamon Iberico de Bellota, which is the most prized Iberian pigs.
The 126 Sliders ($42++) arrived as a set of 6 burgers; a pair of Beef with Foie Gras & Caramelized Onions, a pair of Beef with Cheese, Tomato, Bacon & Mustard Mayo, and a pair of Beef with Rocket, Tomato Jam sliders. This was accompanied with a dish of Crispy French Beans & Truffle Fries. Weird to hear of Deep Fried French Beans but they actually tasted rather good.
Of the 3 types of sliders, the one with bacon appealed to me most. It was candied bacon after all and the explosive mix of savoury, sweet and creaminess from the mayo and cheese was indeed a rewarding experience. The foie gras sliders were good as well, though the foie gras was less fatty than I would have liked and slightly overcooked.
Guy will love this one, the Poultry Platter ($52++), which comes with Roasted Baby Chicken, Duck Leg Confit, Honey Grilled Quail, with sides of Pine Nut & Raisin Stuffing and Sauteed Mushrooms. We hardly find quail in Singapore and the last time I vividly remember eating it was during an orgasmic luncheon at Caprice, a 3-star Michelin French restaurants in Hong Kong. The grilled quail sadly didn’t offer a similar experience here. What I liked in the Poultry Platter however, was the Duck Confit. The meat was slightly dry but the crisp skin was delicious. The sauteed mushrooms were great too!
Alternatively, there’s also the Meat Platter ($68++), which has Grilled Ribeye, Sausage, Pork Belly with Mashed Potatoes & Baked Vegetables. The Western-styled 烧肉 was the highlight of this platter, crisp on the outside with a good balance of tender meat and fats.
The Deep Fried Brie with Red Onion Marmalade ($16++) felt a little steeply priced to me, given that it tasted like the Cheese Sticks from Burger King. Ouch.
The Grilled Octopus was decent, lightly charred yet retaining a moist chewy texture. I don’t understand why octopus tastes the way it is over in Singapore. It’s so much chewier than the ones I had in Spain and Portugal, where the octopus actually boosts a texture similar to a slightly more elastic form of stingray.
After our meal, I got the chance to go into the bar to concoct a drink for myself. It’s something that 1-TwentySix has been experimenting with, where diners can get involved in the cocktail making process and customize a drink for themselves and their friends at a nominal fee (I’m guessing its something like 20 bucks per cocktail?). Of course, the friendly bartenders will be at your side giving advice on which types of alcohols and mixers go well together so that you don’t screw up too badly and set the bar on fire whilst trying to make a Flaming Lamborghini.
Overall, I believe that the attraction of 1-TwentySix lies in its laid back ambience away from town, rather than the glamorized bar food. It has the vibes of Timbre but with more class.
Special thanks to 1-TwentySix for the invitation!
902E East Coast Parkway, #01-26 Playground @ Big Splash
Tel: +65 6681 6464