The Philippines was once a distant territorial outpost of the then New Spain from 1521 to 1898, also known as the Spanish Colonial Era. Interestingly, Filipinos today speak a variety of different dialects, all of which contain up to several thousand Spanish loanwords; so it’s unsurprising that Spanish cuisine abound in the country, especially in the capital city of Manila.
I had a very nice dinner at Las Flores (means The Flower) some 2 years ago. I was reminded of it when I went to Rambla at Rockwell (post coming soon) and learned from Corporate Chef Pepe Lopez there that their group operates Las Flores as well.
So for the year-end dinner with the Clozette Philippines team, I decided on Las Flores, set in the modern Bonifacio Global City (affectionately referred to as BGC by the locals), a financial district beautifully architected and located just 11 km south-east of the center of Manila. The restaurant, serving contemporary Spanish tapas infused with strong Catalonian and Mediterranean influences, has gotten even more popular; we only managed to score a table in the alfresco area, which turned out well given the cool evening.
The Clozette Philippines team are a fun-loving bunch; here’s a closer look at the Clozette Babes.
The interior of the restaurant was warmly and cozily decorated as befitting a smart casual restaurant, which was buzzing on a Thursday night; diners were still coming in when we left late.
I like the quirky touches that you can spot there and there: the exotic industrial lamps and wrought-iron chandeliers; the Spanish ceramic ornaments adorning the wall; long-play vinyl records used as menus; the liberal use of mosaic tiles, and even a trolley-bar.
The good was just as good as I remembered it: contemporary Spanish tapas, not as cutting-edge as Rambla but just as good in a different way. The Tuna Tartar got us off to a good start: fresh and chunky tuna that went well with the pickles, capers, crispy onions and calamansi mayonnaise dressing.
Next came the Spicy Garlic Fried Shrimps in olive oil. The shrimps were equally fresh and tasty, with the garlic a perfect golden brown. We were rather annoyed that our multiple requests for bread to soak up the oil fell on deaf ears – it came almost at the tail end of the dinner.
The ubiquitous Iberico Jamon Croquette was fluffy and fried to golden crisp – lovely bites.
I’m not a particular fan of Bacalao (dried cod) but I must say that the Codfish Fritters with Romesco sauce and pine nuts were quite delectable.
The Crispy Baby Squids were flavourful with a tender bite, and like all the fried dishes we ordered, fried perfectly with a light dusting of flour.
The traditional Catalan Beef Stew with Boletus & Pine Nuts was delicious. Poultry-wise, the Roasted Chicken Leg with prawns, prunes, apricots and pine nuts was tender, with the fruits adding a delicate sweetness to the dish. I would suggest to order just one of these two dishes. I prefer the beef stew which is more savoury.
Being a carb-man, no Spanish dinner is complete without the quintessential dish of Paella. We ordered 2 varieties; the Black Rice with Squid was disappointingly one-dimensional.
Fortunately, the ensuing Paella de Cochinillo was the highlight of the evening, with the fluffy al dente rice beautifully coated with a robust sauce that complements well the juicy pieces of sucking pig with crisp crackling.
The assorted dessert platter of churros, chocolate mousse and a delicate cheesecake was artfully presented and Instagram-ready. My fave is the churros – warm pieces of fluffy dough were yummy coated with the sinful molten chocolate and vanilla the ice cream.
Las Flores, along with its brethren Rambla, and led by the capable Spanish invaders, has made its mark on the Manila dining scene, and deserving so with its solid and authentic cuisine, lovely ambience and earnest service, albeit somewhat erratic at times. In the words of MacArthur: We shall return.
G/F One Mckinley Place, 25th St. corner 4th St., Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig City, One Mckinley Place 5th Ave,
Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines
Phone:+63 2 552 2815