If you’ve read Don Quixote (or Don Quijote in Spanish), you probably remember the eccentric fella who believes that he is a knight and rides around the country seeking adventure. I don’t remember much of the book (I read it in school after all) but I do remember him battling windmills that he believed to be giants. But that was enough to get me curious and excited, when I heard about the character’s namesake restaurant (Don Quijote, duh) in Dempsey Hill.
Head down to the modern-day Don Quijote if not for adventure and chivalry; then certainly for some authentic, tantalising, plant-based fare from Quijote’s land. You might not get to battle windmills here or be awarded Knighthood by the “innkeeper”, but you’ll surely come out well-fed to embark on your adventurous quests.
Don Quijote, Singapore is best known for its Tapas, but the Spanish Restaurant offers an extensive menu with several vegetarian and vegan options ranging from cold and hot tapas to soups and paella. The interiors are simple and the restaurant has a homely feel to it, which is reflected in some of their dishes. Here’s a low down on several of their veg dishes.
Vegetarian & Vegan Spanish Food & Tapas at Don Quijote
We started off with the vegetarian Gazpacho (S$7) – a cold Tomato/ Vegetable Soup drizzled with EVOO – which was excellent and set the expectations high. Must try! Accompanying the soup were home-baked bread rolls with garlic butter. The bread was warm, tasted fresh and is vegan. Upon enquiring, the chef mentioned that the bread is partially baked and frozen, so it does not dry upon re-heating. Note: Don Quijote’s Gazpacho normally comes with cured Spanish ham which isn’t mentioned in the menu and can be a bit misleading. While ordering, make sure you specify that you want it vegetarian.
Following the Gazpacho was Pa amb Tomaquet (Vine Tomatoes on Toasted Bread), which should go down well with those who love their carbs like I do. Kind of a Spanish version of Bruschetta, the vine tomatoes here are grated instead of chopped, making it more “saucy”.
The Cream of Mushroom Soup (S$9) did not fare as well as the preceding dishes but the Setas al Ajillo (Garlic Fried Mushrooms, S$10), more than made up for it. 3 types of Mushrooms stir-fried in garlic and olive oil, the dish was very well received, with even those who don’t normally like mushrooms going for seconds. The mushrooms tasted buttery and we were surprised to learn that they are done with olive oil, making them vegan.
More Hot Tapas followed with Vegetable Croquettes and Tortilla Espanola, both dishes contain egg. Tortilla Espanola (S$11) is a Spanish Style Omelette stuffed with layers of potatoes. It would probably appeal to egg-lovers but for us, it paled in comparison to the croquettes. The deep-fried Vegetables Croquettes come with a lovely warm, tomato-based dip and are delicious – nicely moist, with everything in the right ratio.
Another vegan dish, the Brotes Espinacas (normally comes with ham but can be done without) certainly gave the Gazpacho a run for its money. Stir-fried baby spinach with raisins and toasted pine nuts, the dish is a complete delight, the raisins add a nice touch breaking the savoury taste. My top pick of the night, the dish deserves a repeat visit.
As floored as I was by the spinach, a friend in our group was equally floored by the Berenjanas al Horno (S$10) which is an Oven-baked Eggplant stew that is cooked with herbs, onions and tomatoes. This is a very simple, home-style dish that tastes flavourful and outstanding. Unpretentious and guilt-free, it was a nice change after all the calories that had been consumed. Hit across the board with several ideas for replicating it at home.
Besides the vegetarian fare on the menu, the chef is happy to do unlisted plant-based dishes upon request (they do prefer that you make a reservation and order special dishes a couple of days in advance). One such special dish is Cauliflower Fried Rice, sans the rice. Crunchy cauliflower bits are stir-friend with sweet corn kernels and carrots, making this dish gluten-free, vegan and healthy. This is a simple, mild dish that should appeal to kids and the health-conscious. I found it to be average but another friend loved it so the jury’s still out on this one.
A Spanish meal would obviously be incomplete without a Paella, so we rounded off our meal nicely with the Paella Vegetariana (S/M/L at S$30/40/50) aka stewed vegetables cooked in rice and saffron stock. The good folks at Don Quijote do their Paellas the traditional (and right) way, which means that the cooking time is 25-45 minutes, so don’t wait till you finish the Tapas to order this.
Stuffed to the core, we had to leave a few dishes for next time. Till then, Adios Amigos and Buen Apetito!
Vegan Dishes: Vegetarian Gazpacho (ask to omit the ham), Setas al Ajillo (Garlic Fried Mushrooms), Brotes Espinacas (Baby Spinach) without the ham, Berenjanas al Horno (Oven-baked Eggplant), Cauliflower Fried Rice, Paella Vegetariana are all vegan.
Verdict & Top Picks: If you’re confused about what to pick from the plethora of dishes I’ve mentioned, the top picks of the night were the Vegetarian Gazpacho, Brotes Espinacas (Baby Spinach) and Berenjanas al Horno (Oven-baked Eggplant) – all three dishes being vegan and gluten-free – and the Vegetable Croquettes. To top the veg-friendly factor, the restaurant is also pocket-friendly and should make for a good meal whether you dine with family, friends or head over for a corporate lunch.
Don Quijote: Block 7 Dempsey Road, #01-02, Singapore 249671. P: (+65) 6476 2811
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