Philippine Daily Inquirer / 11:46 PM November 30, 2011
Aged wine and cheese are better than the new vintage. Some restaurants consistently serve delicious food through years and years of operation, never deviating from food quality and efficient service. Then, after a good satisfying meal, a good cup of coffee will provide perfect satisfaction.
LaTienda Restaurant, Cocktail Lounge, and Gourmet store—Sabores de Espana (Flavors of Spain)
43 Polaris, Bel-Air, Makati City, tel. 890 4123
This store-cum-kitchen and dining area opened 25 years ago, offering paella at P55 per order and cocido at P75, immediately gaining a faithful and regular clientele who love Spanish cuisine.
Seventeen years ago, a true-blue Spanish chef, Javier Lecumberi from San Sebastian, came and added more authentic dishes to its menu. He has stayed and today, La Tienda stands proud of what comes out daily from its kitchen.
Dining area—very quaint/cozy, with coffee-brown color scheme, heavy furniture, hand-painted plates of various sizes on the walls, checkered green and white table cloths. There is an area which can be closed by a divider for more private dining. The bar is on the right side as one enters.
Service—Spanish food normally takes longer to prepare, specially the paella, so a short waiting time is expected. A pitcher of sangria is best ordered while waiting.
Staff—Neat in their crisp uniforms, quick when summoned.
Suggested menu—Start with the tapas—Gambas Al Ajillo, Chistorra chorizos, Croquettes and not to forget Manchego cheese. Follow up with a Salad of Blue Marlin ahumado (smoked) with Black Olive Vinaigrette dressing and maybe a Sopa de Calabaza, unless one wants to pass up the soup and gear up for the heavy mains.
There are six paellas one can choose from, but we suggest the Mixta de la Tienda of pork, chicken, Spanish sausage and seafood. A lighter one is the Paella de Verduras with artichoke, cauliflower, green peas, green beans, and red and green peppers. Order the surprisingly jumbo Bisugo à la Oriotarra, so deliciously done in its juices with lots of roasted slivers of garlic. Cap the meal with Caramela Catalana… super! Plus a strong cup of coffee.
Service charge is added to the bill. Senior discount is extended.
Greenbelt 5, Makati city, tel. no.756-Luxe
The Italian name means “luxe” in English. The male attendant explained it was to suggest luxury, and so it does look luxurious. One day, this diner thought of having coffee and desert (after lunch) in a high-end place. No better outlet than Lusso.
Dining area—This is a small place. But it exudes the air of elegance, due mainly to its interior design and high-backed chairs done with golden beige velvet upholstery. Even the “little” common room is classy, done in granite.
Suggested snack—At mid-afternoon, coffee is a must. They serve Italian blend, we had the cappuccino. Going through the menu, we chose some light snacks and were very gratified with the new taste offered: the Luxe Fries in three variants— asiago, truffle salt, cambozola, cress with black pepper, and truffle mushroom with cream, all excellently done. A dessert person will not go wrong ordering the Gelato di Lusso, which is unusually made with extra virgin olive oil (a flavor that does not overwhelm but rather enhances) and sea salt.
The usual service and taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.