I have been celebrating my birthday with various groups of people in mini get-togethers for the past two weeks. I’ve celebrated with my office friends, college friends and office sales team at three times.
And despite going to three different restaurants, there was one dish that was common to all – PAELLA – a Spanish rice dish, cooked in an iron pot garnished with meat, seafood, vegetables and herbs and spices.
So I decided to do an entry on Battle Paella to see which restaurant serves the best paella.
ENTRY #1 – RELIK TAPAS BAR
On April 2, two days before my birthday, my friend Mitzie and I celebrated our joint birthdays (her was last February 28, however her celebration always got delayed) at the newest and hippest resto bar in town – Relik Tapas Bar – located at the Fort.
This place has been buzzing amongst social circles as a great place to hang-out and drink so we decided to hold our celebration there. Since it was a Monday night, it was relatively empty so we had the place mostly to ourselves, but I can imagine this place full on a weekend. Even so, I had to call in to reserve a table for our party of 15.
Relik Tapas Bar, with its dark interiors, offers a cozy atmosphere for friends to hang-out and get some drinks. The place is spacious with comfy chairs, couches and booths to sit on. Guys can enjoy watching their favorite NBA games on TV screens around the restaurant.Their specialties are their tapas, an assortment of appetizers for us to nibble on. Mitzie and I ordered a bunch of those on the menu, their special ingredient being the chorizo (Spanish sausage) which can be found in many of their dishes. Each dish is about P200-P300 a serving. I wasn’t able to get a lot of pictures tho. But their specialty dish is the Paella. Their Paella is ordered one day in advance and served hot on a iron hot plate. One serving costs over P800 and is good for about 5-6 people. I actually liked their paella but I found it lacking in presentation and ingredients. It was a bit tomato-ey for my taste, but the consistency of the rice was really good. Aside from their tapas and Paella, Relik also offers great choices of cocktail drinks that tastes really sweet and fruity. You can’t even detect the alcohol, which makes Relik a great place to go load up for drinks before heading out clubbing. Rating: 3/5 ENTRY #2 – BESO CUCINA VINOTECCA My second birthday celebration was with my college friends. I’ve heard about Beso from my officemate Mitch and decided to celebrate here as well. Spanish tapas and wine bars are now the rage in Manila (with Relik above) and Beso is one of the newest places to open in the up and coming Bonifacio High Street Central Area. The restaurant is spacious and cozy. Unlike Relik, which has a more drinking/partying/hangout atmosphere, Beso’s ambiance caters to more of a dinner/date/hangout crowd. Even if its a weeknight, a Thursday, I still called to make reservations and the staff was very accommodating. I found it easy to coordinate my needs to them prior to the dinner through text and calls. For starters, I ordered from their selection of tapas and cold cuts – ranging from cheese and prosciutto samplers, croquet balls, gambas and clams. I was very pleased with their tapas servings as they were plentiful and cooked just right. The gambas was a clear winner with those large prawns and yummy olive oil and garlic sauce. To top off the evening I also ordered the specialty Beso Paella. This surprisingly has a maximum pre-order time of 15 minutes, quick if you ask me. And the paella was overloaded with toppings such as prawns, mussels and clams. Simply divine! Set in servings good for 6-8 people, at P1,200+++ per order, I could safely say it was worth the price. Only negative comment that it had too much tomato sauce. And their desserts were superb as well 🙂 I had an impromptu candle blowing session over their bread pudding ala mode which had the right amount of sweetness per spoonful. Over all, I enjoyed the restaurant experience although it was a bit more expensive than other tapas bars. Rating: 4/5 ENTRY #3 – PATIO CARLITO I’ve already made a previous entry for Patio Carlito early this year, but this is still included in Battle Paella due to 1) its still part of my birthday celebration, and 2) we also ordered paella. The boss treated the team to a team lunch to celebrate Charles’ and my birthdays at Patio Carlito. The restaurant mainly differs from the above two entries because its not a tapas bar and their specialties are more Filipino than Spanish. To accompany the paella, we ordered some of their best sellers as well. And for the main contender, the paella: Their serving is smaller than the two other restaurants, but its cheapest of them all at P500+++ for a serving good for 5 people. It was teeming with ingredients from pork and seafoods and the waiting time was also around 15 minutes for it to be served. It was served just as the other orders were brought out. It tasted very good as well and I am pleased it wasn’t so tomato-ey. Rating: 4/5 There you go for battle paella! I think I will rest for a while from this due to too much carbo loading in a span of two weeks.