Pool Grill @ Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel: Flavors of Spain

"A bonus is that the Chef is really cute," spouts the  sprightly PR figure that greets us at the table. An innocent comment that grabbed my attention instantaneously. Needless to say, the menu cards displayed on the tables were real head-turners as well, revealing placid Spanish roots with a real potential for mischief in between the gaps. 

Guest Chef Albert Ortiz is no stranger to traditional Spanish cuisine, his 12 years of kitchen experience coupled with knowledge of global cuisine catching the eye of talent scouts always on a lookout for new perspectives. A quick chat with the maestro revealed his inspiration - a love from Japan (cue, disappointed sighs) that has fine-tuned his taste of exquisite Japanese produce and foster a kinship for its delicate cooking methods. Gamely combining that with his own traditional Spanish cooking training, the result is something so distinctively intriguing in taste profile that it would have you second guessing the provenance of the meal. 

We kick off the meal with 2 appetisers. The Cured Spanish Mackerel leads the way, a small tuft of smoked eggplant mayo providing a jauntily revered contrast to the lime-cured fish. It's fishiness non-existent. Perfectly Seared Scallop sit above scattered bits of chorizo migas siding a residual smudge of sofrito puree, the latter which I sucked on gingerly, its flavors too overpowering for the benign mollusks. Chef Albert explains that migas is a traditional Spanish breakfast dish made of leftover bread or tortas, in his rendition, he pan-fries it with chorizo, it's spicy oil notes adding contrast to the bready nose.

Power and nuance are packed into the starters to make the other city offerings appear heavy-handed in terms of seasoning. The Grilled Octopus for one is utterly delightful, a thick hunk of octopus tentacle sous vide and grilled plonked on a bed of buttered mash potato which sees the jovial company of wait,what? - MORE melt-in-your-mouth delights in the form of pork jowl. My only complaint being the intimidating ratio of potato to protein seeing that its a starter that threatens to throw your appetite off kilter. Equally sensational is the Smoked Salmon Mi-Cuit, spinach, black tea cream, whipped goat cheese and candied grapefruit; revelatory on the palate, the coating of black tea leaves on the gravlax leaving a strong impression. the Candied walnuts, the icing on the cake.

Mains dulled down into a state of sensibility with the Braised beef cheek taking precedence over the Char Grilled Black codfish for me. My initial impression that the Chef was more comfortable with wielding magic upon seafood, corrected with this side by side comparison. The Beef cheek, rendered a shade of crimson red from its marinade in a wine based sauce worked in perfect unison with the sparsely spiced olive oil crushed potato; oily nuggets of potato mingling affably with the fork-tender protein. A sluice of passion fruit in the jus slicing thru its richness. I would have loved the codfish a lot better if only its gelatinous skin had been crisped up. It's slithery coating throwing me off just a little while the pungent garlic llaune mousseline attempts to resolve our differences.

A Dark Chocolate ice cream, char-grilled banana, gorgonzola cheese and caramelised butter bread dessert made me smile all of three times - Till I hit rock bottom with buttered bread, marginally better than cardboard, this vessel was totally not in sync with the deliciously intense portion of the dish. chocolate ice cream draped seductively over sugar-coated bananas, still warm from its brulee. For something a little more sour, opt for the Lemon Tart, this deconstructed work of art, not seemingly as nice on the lips as it is on the black platter. Italian meringue in estranged bite sizes attempt to shatter into bits with the loud clanging of your spoon against plate when slicing thru. And even as the candied grapefruit provide a nice touch to the tangy lemon curd, the Spanish roots were somewhat lost in this course... I suppose a classic flan would have done the job better.

Irregardless, Pool Grill is fantastic spot for catch-ups and romantic dates. It's unprecedented views of purple hued skies and the ION skyline, coupled with breezy circumstances from large fans whirling across the ceilings definitely worthy of a visit, a tipple, if not, a meal in the private marquees pushed up against the luxurious swimming pools. 

Take note that the Flavors of Spain featuring guest Chef Albert Oritz will be available till the 13th March. 
3-Course Lunch: $35++ per person
4-Course Dinner: $58++ per person

Pool Grill
Mariott Tang Plaza Hotel
320 Orchard Road
t: 6831 4605

Operating Hours:
Sun - Thurs: 11am - 10pm
Fri- Sat: 11am - 11pm

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