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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

TAPAS TIME AT BASTY'S




          The biggest drawback of coming from a family that specializes in the art of cooking Spanish cuisine is that it's very difficult to find a restaurant that impresses me. The extensive culinary knowledge of my legendary Grandmother was passed down to my mother and her sisters, who in turn did their best to impart their wisdom to their children. These are cooking techniques that have been used from generation to generation, for classic Spanish dishes such as Paella, Lengua and Gambas. My mom could whip out some of the best these dishes you would ever try. Can you imagine restaurant quality food.. As your home cooked meal.. on a daily basis? (My dreams of having a Ryan Reynolds physique never had a chance) 


       In a nutshell, that explains why it took me over a year to blog about my first Spanish restaurant. 


         Though I was absent the day my mom taught my sisters and brother how to cook, the love of food which has become my family's most valued inherent trait lives (arguably the strongest) inside of me. So after receiving a free voucher from the wonderful people at The group buying site Groupon Philippines for a dinner at Basty's (Thanks Joey and Kev!) as their token of appreciation for becoming a finalist in the Philippine Blog Awards, I thought it was the perfect time to do my first post on a Spanish restaurant.




            The voucher Groupon sent me came at the most opportune time, because Rina and I had just discussed taking her dad, her sister Chaikka and Chai's BF Don out for dinner as a thank you for all the support they've given us when Rain was born. Chaikka and Don never left my side on that day we took Rina to the hospital, and I could have very well lost my side if I had to deal with the stress of wondering how Rina was doing in the labor room all by myself. 




                 Not to knock on the Colonel, but I didn't want this to be a simple bucket meal treat, but at the same time, I didn't want to spend too much. So I needed a respectable place that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg.. and based on the menu of Basty's that I found on their Facebook page, it seemed just that. 
 
                Though we made reservations, I was a bit concerned upon entering, because the place looked hella cramped. Since Basty's is located at the same building as Eat Well, my memories of claustrophobia during our visit there came rushing back into my head.. That was until Rina assured me that we'd be seated at the larger dining area upstairs.


          The place had a cozy feel to it, with its brick wall interiors and abstract paintings. They made use of large glass windows to give the illusion of space. 



             Like Eat Well, the floor area of Basty's isn't very spacious, however, unlike Eat Well, Basty's didn't jam as many tables as it could into the dining area at the expense of their customer's comfort. We got there a little bit before 7 so we ended up having the top deck pretty much to ourselves, with the other customers choosing to stay at the ground floor, where the bar is. 


         Since we were in a Spanish restaurant, we decided (unconsciously) to go all tapas style, where we all order small plates, place it in the center, and then it's a free for all (except for me, since I was footing the bill).

    THE FOOD


STARTERS



              The free bread that came during the start of the meal was nowhere near the vicinity of how kick ass Buenissimo and Italianni's were. This was basically wheat(?) French bread that was left in the toaster a few seconds too long. The Flavor was decent, but it was a bit dry. 


         I hoped that this would not be indicative of how the meal would be. 




           Then came the Gambas con Chorizo (P230) which instantly erased any doubt I may have had in my mind about Basty's. Ok i'm going to put this out there. You guys have come to accept the fact that I'm a picky eater, and there are some things that I don't eat.. and Shrimp is one of them. But since this was Gambas Con Chorizo, I summoned up the courage to give it a go, and had my mind blown away with how good this was. Granted, my concentration was focused more on the chorizo than the actual shrimp, but it had a wonderful blend of spices and acid that made even the sauce, poured over rice, a meal in itself. 


        And they weren't stingy with the chorizo bits either. They had a nice amount of fat in it. I almost didn't notice there was shrimp in it!


        

            One of my favorite Spanish dishes is Croquetas. This is something I've grown up with, so like other Spanish dishes, my standards for this is very high. My grandmother's version was basically shredded chicken and mashed potatoes, rolled up into a ball a fried up. Apart from the home made version, the Croquetas I've tried around the metro that stood out is D' Marks. I wanted to see how Basty's incarnation of Croquetas would fare against my memory of my two favorites.


         And it turns out.. I have a new favorite. I ordered the Croquetas de Jamon Serrano (P165) for us to try.. and holy crap were these good. The exterior of the croquetas had a beautiful light golden color, while the potato inside was unbelievably creamy and smooth. You could taste the Jamon Serrano only in subtle hints, but the star truly was the potato. 


           This was so good that I had to order yet ANOTHER plate of Croquetas.. Chorizo this time. My only comment about the Chorizo Croquetas (P175) is, I couldn't tell them apart because the savory part of the dish got overpowered by the awesomeness of the potato. Also the sauce, which tasted closer to Aioli for me than bechamel, was a great companion to the croquetas, but it could honestly stand alone without it. 


ENTREES


FISH


           Chaikka ordered the Pescado Con Vino (P275) which was oven baked dory in a lime butter sauce. For me, this lacked a little punch.. Perhaps maybe a little more salt, because it was border-lining on bland.





            The Fish Fillet with Tartar sauce (P265), which My father in law ordered  surprised me with the generous portion size. The fish was cooked perfectly, with the crunchy coating giving way to the tender white fish underneath. At first it may come off as in need of seasoning, but when added with a bit of the Tartar sauce, it comes together nicely.


POULTRY



            Don ordered "Sebastians Chicken" (P285), which oddly enough requires a 25 minute lead time to cook, but they managed to serve it in 15. It was a little bit oily for a "roasted" dish (even if it was olive oil), and is one of those entrees that won't dazzle you with flavors that will explode in your mouth, but will instead settle into your taste buds and you find yourself looking for another bite after a few minutes.


      The chicken was roasted just right, and in my opinion, maybe a dash of salt would've helped, but on the whole, this was quite good. 
         


              Maybe I was expecting something to the effect of Krave's "Pinwheel Steak", but for some reason I ordered the Hanging Tenderloin Steak (P380). It's odd for me because my least favorite cut of beef is tenderloin. 


           Luckily enough, Basty's didn't let me down, and came up with a tenderloin dish that is so tender and juicy, it made me forget there wasn't too much fat on it. The beef was topped with a thin mushroom gravy, that didn't skimp on the mushrooms either. My butter knife sliced through the beef the greatest of ease, which was impressive considering the mean wasn't that thin either. 


       I enjoyed the dish, however I'm still on the fence about the price, especially considering there are other less expensive dishes on the menu that were just as stunning. But if you take portion size into consideration too, then it kinda does balance out. 


           If you read my Boracay Post of our visit to Valhalla, you'll know that Rina loves her Beef Salpicao, which is why it came to no surprise that this is what she ordered. I was a bit taken aback when she first said she was contemplating getting the Chicken Cordon Bleu, but as she always does, she decided on the Salpicao (P325). 


       This was pretty amazing. The cubes of beef were so soft and buttery,it was like they would melt in your mouth. The kick of the sprinkling of toasted garlic just comes in and enhances the natural flavors of the beef. When every morsel of beef was gone, Rina grabbed more plain rice and pour the salpicao sauce all over it, and continued to devour it the same way she did when there was actual beef in it. 




            You can't think of Spanish Cuisine without thinking of Paella. And again, among the the dishes of Spain, one of the hardest things to impress me with is this. My mom makes great Paella, and two of my aunts sell a different variety of it for a living.


        But despite my fear of hyper acidity because of its tomato content, I figured a post on a Spanish restaurant would not be complete without some Paella in it (You see the pains I go through for you guys?!). But what Paella would be fitting for The Pickiest Eater In The World? 


      The "Mixta" (P300) is a Mixtya (see what I did there?) of Chicken (yay), Pork Chorizos (YAY), mixed vegetables (boo) and even proudly states in their menu, "No Seafood" (I eat fish, but any other form of shellfish is out of the question for me, and I actually find it cumbersome when its mixed in a paella). 


       Again, this was goooood. The Paella was cooked just right, so it was nice and sticky, and the chorizos gave it a strong meaty flavor to it. When taking into considering that Don, notorious for his servings of rice that make a Jeepney driver go "DAMN", and I really pummeled this dish and there was still more than enough for everyone, the personal size is a great deal (Get what I mean about the Hanging Tenderloin Steak?). 
        



            Something about this Paella, however, was too good to be true. I'm no expert on the cooking part, but if I recall correctly, Paella takes around at least 30 minutes to cook, and maybe an extra five minutes to rest.. but they brought this to us within 15 minutes. The amazing part was, it didn't taste pre-cooked. 


      So I dug deep into the paellera, and tried to find everyone's favorite part of the dish.. the little burnt bits at the bottom of the pan, which is usually the mark of a good paella.


    I'm not complaining but, I don't know how they did it in such short time. I was pleasantly surprised to find the burnt bits present, and absolutely delicious.  


        I gave up and decided to just leave it be.. and just enjoy the wonderful food at a very charming place, with some special members of my family.




            Though they take pride in being more of a "Fusion" restaurant than an authentic Spanish one, make no mistake about it- Basty's knows how to cook Spanish food. The prices are VERY reasonable, and (especially if you get a table upstairs away from the drinkers hehe) has a very soothing ambiance. We didn't realize time flew by because we were having so much fun!




           Before I forget to mention it, their service was impeccable. Our waitress, who seemed to be holding the fort down all on her own, did a masterful job of balancing BOTH floors. which was impressive because some of the guys downstairs were getting a little bit tipsy. Questions about dishes were answered confidently and orders were served promptly, so kudos to both the front of the house and the kitchen. 





               Thanks again, Dad, Chai and Don for your support! 

Thank you GROUPON PHILIPPINES! You guys truly are awesome!


       Much love from Me, Rina, and Baby Rain :)

5 comments:

  1. Hi Richie! I'm not too keen on shellfish too. :D Glad you had a great time, it's been a while since I've had a good paella. :D

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  2. hmmm, the foods look delish ha. .especially the paella!!! :) i think you forgot to comment with Don's smile/eyes?hehe kainggit yung ganyang bonding. :(

    -Zai

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  3. You should try this place Michy :)

    Haha Zai! You never cease to amaze me with how well you know me! I was gonna comment on Don's "beautiful eyes" but i figured it was too easy a target hehe so I chose not to nalang hehe.. Family bonding is the best!

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  4. I haven't tried a lot of Spanish dishes in my life so your post really made me crave for some tapas and Paella! <3 If only Basty's had a branch somewhere nearer (QC or Ortigas), I'd definitely give them a go really soon.

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  5. You should, Sumi! Im planning din to try out some places in QC soon.. puro makati nalang ako hehe.. any suggestions?

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