Comfort food elevated at ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Weekend brunches have grown popular lately, with many establishments offering hearty comfort dishes that can be leisurely enjoyed by diners.

At ALTA by Relik at Santolan Town Plaza, families can enjoy the flavorful comfort food amidst vibrant and colorful surroundings.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

The restaurant is an offshoot of the popular BGC restaurant Relik. Restaurant owner Gen Mortel and Chef Jam Laboriente collaborated on a Filipino-Spanish menu to provide an elevated dining experience to San Juan’s foodies.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Last weekend I had brunch together with my fellow foodies from #WeLoveToEatPH and #SaanSaPH at ALTA by Relik where we had a taste of its comfort food elevated with fresh twists such as:

Relik’s Nachos (Php350). Homemade tortilla chips topped with meat sauce, crisp lettuce, tomato and cucumber relish, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Chilean Mussels Croquettes (Php495). Chilean mussels topped with thick bechamel sauce and bread crumbs and served a with a lemon judge.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Pulled Pork Quesadilla (Php235). Tender pulled pork, cheddar, mozzarella, corn kernels, lettuce and source cream encased in homemade flour tortillas.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Watermelon and Kesong Puti Salad (Php265). Mixed greens, arugula, watermelon cubes, bits of kesong puti and candied walnuts tossed with balsamic reduction.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Longanisa Flatbread with Salted Egg Cream (Php375). Crisp flatbread topped with sweet pork longganisa, tomato salsa and salted egg dressing.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Seafood Chowder (Php295). Shrimp, squid and herbs incorporated in a flavorful cream soup and garnished with croutons and parsley.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Bagnet Sinigang (Php395). The classic sinigang dish deconstructed into pieces of bagnet and vegetables served with a broth made of fresh sampaloc dialed up to its asim-est level.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Lamb Pares (Php355). Slow-cooked shoulders of grass-fed New Zealand lambs in garlic soy sauce served with garlic rice.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Sizzling Bulalo Steak (Php489). Tender beef shank with its decadent bone marrow served sizzling in a garlic bulalo gravy together with fried potatoes, green beans and garlic bits.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Seafood Paella (Php995). Rich saffron-infused medium-grain rice with white shrimp, squid, Chilean mussels and roasted bell peppers served in a special paellera pan that helps it develop a nice toasty crust at the bottom. (Fun fact: that flavorful toasty crust is called socarrat in Catalan. Paella connoisseurs consider this the key to paella’s fabulous flavor).

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Mango Tapioca Trifle (Php215). Fresh sliced mangoes, caramel,sauce and tapioca pearls top a layer of lady fingers.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Milo Dinosaur Cheesecake (Php195). A chocolatey frozen cheesecake flavored with Milo and garnished with sprinkled with Milo powder.

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

So if you feel like enjoying an elevated brunch experience or dine on an excellent selection of Filipino-Spanish fusion dishes, drop by at Santolan Town Plaza to experience ALTA by Relik!

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

ALTA by Relik, San Juan

Many thanks to Gen, Jam and the staff of ALTA by Relik for the warm welcome and the fabulous food!

ALTA by Relik is located at Santolan Town Plaza, Col. Bonny Serrano Avenue, Little Baguio, San Juan City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 8am to 12 midnight and Fridays to Saturdays from 8am to 2am. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 917 3172582.

Here are more reasons to head to ALTA by Relik:

  • DJ Nights every Thursday night at 8pm.
  • Live music every Friday and Saturday at 8pm.
  • All-You-Can-Eat buffet breakfast every Sunday from 8am to 11.30am.

ALTA by Relik Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with my fellow foodies, I attended a foodie meetup held here. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my blog posts on breakfast joints around the metro:

 

Delicious Holiday Food Finds at Ilustrado

Make your holiday gatherings and gift giving more special with unique and delicious finds from Ilustrado Restaurant.

Ilustrado’s Holiday Tienda offers something for everyone. The cheese lover will surely love homemade cheese wheels in Boursin, Pimiento (a sure kids’ favourite!), Spicy Cheese – Edam with garlic and spices, varieties. You cannot go wrong with bottled Atsara, Bagoong, Moringga Pesto, Gourmet Tuyo and Chimichurri.

Ilustrado Holiday

Ilustrado Holiday

Ilustrado Holiday

Tea Cookies come in boxes of 12 cookies in flavors of Double Chocolate, Coconut, Matcha Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Snickerdoodles. Brownies come in boxes of 4 bars with Cashew, S’mores, Salted Caramel, Pretzel and Cream Cheese flavors. Ready to serve for a party are Cake Squares in a box with these delectable selections – Baked Cheesecake, Chocolate Fudge and Sans Rival. Cheese Pimiento Wreath and Quezo de Bola Ensaimada Tree are both unique, festive and appetizing.

Ilustrado Holiday

Ilustrado Holiday

A new addition to their lineup are fun Artisan Holiday Boxes dubbed “Christmas Morning” – a selection of cookies, brownies, loose leaf tea and tablea chocolate while “Holiday Cheer” is a Graze Box with Jamon Serrano, Chorizo, Stuffed Lychee with Roquefort and Pistachio, Chorizo Puffs, Spicy Cheeseball, Boursin Cheeseball, Chocolate Dipped Dried Mangoes, Crostini and Pretzels, Mandarin Oranges, Marinated Tomatoes and Olives. These are the perfect hostess gifts to bring to a party or as gifts in themselves to those you hold dear.

Ilustrado Holiday

To spruce up your Noche Buena table, choose from a long list of mouthwatering selections: the stellar Twice Cooked Angus Beef Short Plate is a must order along with Adobong Bagnet with Taba ng Talangka, Callos Madrilena, Kalderetang Kambing, Lengua con Setas, Hamon de Hacienda, Stuffed Chicken Ilustrado (ala Relleno), Pineapple Glazed Leg of Ham and U.S. Prime Rib.

Ilustrado Holiday

Your meal will not be complete without Ilustrado’s Signature Paella. Choose from Paella Ilustrado (Meat and Seafood), Paella Marinara (All Seafood), Paella Negra (Squid Ink)or Paella Bacalao.

Ilustrado Holiday

Those who like pasta and noodles can pick from Classic Carbonara, Espanyola (Spanish Sardines, sun-dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil) Filipino Spaghetti, Ilustrado (Shrimp, olive oil, Paprika) Machito (Tenderloin Bits and Mushroom) Palabok with Bagnet and Pata Pancit.

Ilustrado Holiday

To know more offerings and other details visit Ilustrado at ‪744 General Luna Road‬, Intramuros, Manila (‪527-3674‬, ‪527-2345‬); Café Ilustrado, 4th Level SM Makati (‪818-6760‬) or Pasteleria Ilustrado, 2nd level, Alabang Town Center (‪0919-845-9503‬) or email caterings@ilustradorestaurant.com.ph or log on to www.facebook.com/ilustradorestaurant/.

Disclosure: Menu details and images provided by Ilustrado Restaurant in a recent press release.

Check out my previous post about Ilustrado Restaurant’s Degustation Menu here.

Get the best cochinillo in town from Mr. Cochinillo

While the lechon (roast pig) is a staple in many Filipino gatherings, few might know that there is a version of this delicacy that originated from Segovia, Spain.  The Cochinillo del Cielo, characterized by crispy light golden-brown skin and buttery, falling-off-the-bone meat, is a piglet that is roasted after feeding on sow’s milk from two to six weeks.  The true test to a good cochinillo is that it is so tender, it can easily sliced by a delicate porcelain plate.

Mr. Cochinillo is the brand created by former DJ-turned-photographer-turned-business owner Tinee de Guzman for his roasted suckling pigs and other Spanish-influenced items on the menu. The pigs are roasted in brick ovens located right in his home.

It all started when a friend of his was considering renting a venue he owns for a party and he volunteered to cater it as well.  Among the dishes he claimed to be able to prepare, but actually hasn’t done so by then, is the cochinillo.  His friend ended up just ordering this dish.  Fortunately, he had a month leading to the party to learn and perfect his cochinillo recipe.

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

Tinee’s style of preparing cochinillo is no mean feat.  As he relayed to the chef his friend hired for the party: “To be able to prepare this, you have to have time, you have to do everything properly.  You have to clean it; you have to defrost it properly; you have to have it marinated before and after.  Your oven has to be at a perfect temperature.”

That amusing start to his cochinillo business was in October 2012.

Since then, his cochinillo has been garnering praise from publications and food pundits and the orders just kept coming in.

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

In a party he recently held for bloggers, he relayed how he expanded his repertoire with other Spanish-themed dishes, which we were also able to sample.  These included:

Seafood Fiduea/Fideo. A dish akin to paella but uses short noodles instead of rice, then cooked over a wood fire.

Fabada. Beans cooked over firewood and infused with his signature boneless Cochinillo del Cielo, which we enjoyed together with garlic bread.

Rabo de Toro. A rich stew made with bull’s tail, slow-cooked to absolute tenderness and rich earthy flavor.

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

During this event, Tinee also unveiled his newest offering, the Cochinillo rubbed with Goose Oil which further enriches the flavor of the pig’s skin and meat.

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

The dishes served gave a taste of the richness of Spanish cuisine which also called to mind many of the flavors we Filipinos grew up with and loved.

The following menu items are all available for order at his online store – mrcochinillo.com.

  • Cochinillo del Cielo: Php6,500 for regular (good for 8 to 12 people) | Php7,500 for large (good for 14 to 18 people)
  • Mr. Cochinillo’s Black Pig (Baboy Ramo): Php12,500 (good for 24 to 26 people)
  • Seafood Paella | Paella Negra: Php5,500 for regular (good for 16 to 20 people) | Php9,500 for large (good for 26 to 30 people)
  • Seafood Fideua | Fideua Negra: Php5,500 for regular (good for 14 to 18 people) | Php9,500 for large (good for 26 to 30 people)
  • Mr. Cochinillo Paella: Php6,000 for regular (good for 16 to 20 people) | Php9,500 for large (good for 26 to 28 people)

Frozen Items (vacuum-packed to ensure freshness):

  • Mr. Cochinillo’s Fabada (infused with cochinillo): Php600 for regular (good for 2 people) | Php2,000 for large (good for 6 to 8 people)
  • Rabo del Toro: 2,500 (good for 6 to 8 people)
  • Callos: Php700 for regular (good for 2 people) | Php2,500 for large (good for 6 to 8 people)
  • Cochinillo del Cielo: Php800  (good for 2 people)

(Note: Mr. Cochinillo has specific instructions on reheating these items, and does not recommend microwaving them.)

Ordering is as easy as 1-2-3:

Step 1: Fill out the online order form or call +63 2 6330043, +63 2 9524102 or +63 917 545 4888.

Step 2: After receiving a confirmation message via email or phone, deposit payment to Carlos V De Guzman  | BPI | Account Number # 2900-0063-84.  Afterwards, email a copy of your deposit slip to orders@mrcochinillo.com.

Step 3: Go to the pick-up location – No 5 Parakeet Street corner Swallow Drive, Green Meadows Subdivision, Quezon City – at the specified time to ensure the crispiness of the skin and tenderness of the meat of your cochinillo.  Be sure to bring the deposit slip when you claim your order.

If you want to serve succulent cochinillos or any of the tasty dishes offered by Mr. Cochinillo at your family gathering this Christmas, it would be best to order as soon as possible.  Note as well that cochinillo orders for pick-up from December 1, 2018 to January 3, 2019 will have a surcharge of 10% (but it will be so worth it!).

Mr. Cochinillo Bloggers’ Night

Disclosure: I attended the Bloggers’ Night hosted by Mr. Cochinillo.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Filipino comfort food you grew up with at Limbaga 77, Tomas Morato

Filipino food sometimes get some flak for being unimaginative, too greasy, salty or sweet.  Many of us, however, grew up with happy memories of the dishes that our mom lovingly prepared during holidays, our lolas slaved over the kitchen during family get-togethers, or were proudly served by our neighbors during fiestas. Criticism against our beloved dishes either go over out heads or are met with fiery backlash.

The thing with Filipino food is that one dish may have numerous versions, depending on the region, or even the family, that serves it.  In fact, these recipes are even more enriched by the stories and histories that go into their preparation.  Filipino food is basically an amalgamation of native and foreign influences, and can easily be adapted according to regional, familial or even individual tastes.

This makes the work of Limbaga 77, a Filipino restaurant located along Scout Limbaga Street in the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area, all the more challenging.  According to owner Sonny Fortuna, the restaurant tries to stay true to the traditional and classic Filipino recipes. But with so many regional or individual variations, which versions should the restaurant present?

Based on my experience during a recent Zomato Foodie Meetup held at Limbaga 77, the versions that showcases the use of traditional and native ingredients take centerstage.  The dishes served belie, more than anything, the allegation that Filipino food is unimaginative.

Take for example the Stuffed Bulaklak ng Kalabasa (Php227), an appetizer that made of squash blossoms stuffed with native cheese and minced pork, dipped and batter and deep-friend to achieve that crisp golden brown layer that gives in to a sumptuous bite of melted cheese and pork.

The Green Mango Pomelo Salad (Php377), on the other hand, combines the citrus-y flavors of the fruits with the grilled shrimp.  Some shrimp pieces are a bit over-grilled though.

Most of Limbaga 77’s offerings are reminiscent of the special Sunday lunches that Filipino moms prepare to feed the family after church.  The Roasted Chicken (Php577), Bistek Tagalog (Php477), Crispy Bagnet (Php477), and Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing (Php477) are all on-point as main dishes, showcased by the Danggit Rice (Php77) and Garlic Rice (Php57).

In the Pochero (Php577), in particular, the rich tomato-based broth provides a savory-sweet background for the slow-cooked beef short ribs, the crisp vegetables and saging na saba; in terms of presentation and use of fresh ingredients, I think the dish wouldn’t be out-of-place in a hapag-kainan during the colonial period.

Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that the Pochero is one of the favorite dishes of Filipino reformist, writer and journalist Marcelo H. del Pilar?  (Many thanks to fellow foodie Lawrence Chan for this interesting tidbit!)

The Buffalo Wings (Php277), was developed by the resto to appeal to younger diners who may want some finger foods for their after-office hangouts.  Its blue cheese dipping sauce has some bits of cucumber in it, adding some cool freshness to the spicy dish.

However, for me, the star of the show is the Limbaga 77 Paella (Php1,277).  Five people can share this hearty Filipino-Spanish masterpiece made with generous helpings of seafood – shrimp, mussels, clams and squid – as well as chicken, Spanish chorizo and hard-boiled eggs.  It’s a good thing we foodies took a while in taking pictures of this dish together with the other viands served as the heated shallow pan the paella was served in gave the grains at the bottom a bit of a toasty crunch.

The desserts served also had interesting stories  The Brazo Tableaand the Davao Tablea  Cake, for instance, use cacao discs sourced from Davao, the country’s top producer and exporter of cacao, giving these confections a rich chocolate taste.  (The cakes can be further improved to have a moist texture, though.)

If you ever wondered what other uses can there be for queso de bola beyond the Christmas season, look no further: Limbaga 77’s Queso de Bola Cheesecake has a sweet-salty flavor that will satisfy those who tire of too-sweet delicacies.

The classic chocolate mousse dessert also gets a local twist with the inclusion of native coffee to the Barako Brownie Mousse: the thick mousse is flavored with coffee and topped with rich powdered cocoa.

Here’s another trivia: Did you know that kapeng barakogot its name from varraco, the Spanish word for wild boar?  In Spain, wild boar are very fond of eating the plant’s leaves and berries.

Two classic Filipino desserts were fused together in Bikoron: a mashup between the biko and turon wherein the mild-tasting kakanin is wrapped in lumpia wrapper, deep-fried and drizzled with a slightly sweet peanut sauce.

The last dessert served is the Perlas ng Mangga: the Philippines’ national fruit is given a  backdrop of sweet cream and tapioca pearls.

Don’t think that drinks in this resto fall by the wayside: fresh and fruity blended concoctions were also served such as Lychee Grapes Shake, Minty Mango Watermelon and the Mabuhay Smoothie (coconut milk syrup with pineapple), each at Php177.  I opted for the Grass Citrus Iced Tea (Php97), a refreshing brew of pandan and lemongrass with a hint of calamansi, to drink during dinner and a cuppa with baculicha, a sweetener often served with coffee in Vigan, after the meal.

For diners who want combinations of their favorites, Limbaga 77 now offers Bestseller Tandems at Php397 each.  These include:

  • Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + Adobong Tadyang ng Baka + Garlic Rice
  • Spicy Seafood Adobo + Adobong Tadyang ng Baka + Garlic Rice
  • Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + 1/4 Baby Back Ribs + Garlic Rice
  • Spicy Seafood Adobo + Grilled Liempo + Garlic Rice
  • Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + Toasted Vigan Longganisa + Garlic Rice
  • Toasted Vigan Longganisa + Seafood Chopsuey + Garlic Rice
  • Grilled Liempo + Seafood Chopsuey + Garlic Rice

Limbaga 77 is located at No 77 Scout Limbaga Street, near Tomas Morato Avenue, Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City.  It is open daily from 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm.  For inquiries and reservations, call +63 926 715 6134 or email limbaga77cafe@gmail.com.

Credit: Thanks to fellow foodie and flat lay slayer John Bunag for styling the flat lay of viands served.

Disclosure: Together with other Zomato foodies, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Limbaga 77 Cafe Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Taste of Spain at Casa Marcos, Tomas Morato

Spain has a rich and colorful history, a fact which comes out of its equally rich and colorful cuisine.

One of the most popular cuisines in the world due to its spread during the age colonization, Spanish food is particularly close to Pinoy hearts as it influenced our own local cuisine.

Casa Marcos started in 1945, established by a Spanish national, Marcos de Guisasola, opened a Spanish restaurant in Manila which he named after himself. Driven by his love of cooking and entertaining friends, he brought his country’s signature dishes as well as the decidedly Spanish flair and passion for life to his new home.

Today, Casa Marcos is located at the second floor of the Il Terrazo Mall along Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It has a pub kind of atmosphere and was quite deserted when a friend and I went there for lunch but we were told that the restaurant’s peak hours are at night due to its offerings of tapas and craft beer.

We were also served some dinner rolls with butter while we waited for our main meal.

The purpose of our visit was to sample the resto’s Paella Valenciana (Php470 for a small serving which is good for 2 to 3 people: Php845 for a large serving which is good for 5 ton6 people), a hearty rice dish with chorizo, seafood, and chicken pieces, seasoned with paprika and served in a heated flat pan (called soccarat in Spain). We also ordered a Lengua Sevillana (Php345), ox tongue cooked until tender and served with a mushroom gravy sauce.

Both dishes have rich and earthy flavors, well worth the walk to the resto (and the hefty price tag).

Some of the paella also got toasted in the pan, adding some crunchy texture to each bite. The portion was quite large (despite us opting for the small serving) and we ended up splitting the remainder and having them wrapped for takeout.

In my future forays here, I plan to sample the Callos (Php450) and the Paella Negra (Php470 for a small serving/Php845 for a large serving).

For reservations at Casa Marcos, call + 63 2 4418134 or + 63 906 2213615.

Casa Marcos X Baguio Craft Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Click here to check out my review of another Spanish restaurant.

Spanish cuisine at Burst, Bel Air

While on a business trip in Makati, I took a (very) late lunch at this quaint Spanish restaurant inside the Alphaland Mall.

Burst’s dining space is dimly lit with darkwood furniture and paintings of Spain’s vistas adorning the walls. Mellow pop and OPM music are piped in, giving the place a relaxed vibe (but detracting from the Spanish feel).

I have been craving paella for quite some time, and the resto has a promo wherein most food items have significant price cuts, so I took this opportunity to satisfy my craving.

I ordered Paella Negra (Php240 regular price/Php155 promo price) and Lengua (Php295 regular price/Php195 promo price).  The seafood in the paella provided contrasts in color to the squid ink-colored rice; its flavors were fresh and hearty.  I found the flavor of the lengua, or braised ox tongue, overpowering the paella so I opted to have it wrapped up to go.

The serving staff was prompt and friendly.

The overall look and feel of the place leave much to be desired but I can’t complain about the food and the service. I wouldn’t mind returning and trying out the All Meat Paella and Callos, more of the Spanish cuisine that I would like to sample.

Check out my review of another Spanish restaurant.

Burst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato