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