Monday, June 25, 2012

Beso Cucina Vinoteka: Living up to the hype

I had been in fancy dining restaurants where the ambiance is great but the food is lousy. And I don’t write about it because it would be a waste of space. But not Beso in High Street. Somehow, it has lived to its hype based on the comments I gathered on the net. And before that, it had been my college classmate’s first choice for our college reunion. And if not for its under maintenance aircon that time, we wouldn’t have settled in an Italian restaurant in Serendra. So yes, I was intrigued. What does Beso have to offer to deserve this preferential treatment from a classmate who seems hard to please?

Apparently, a lot. Walking inside, you notice its red and black theme splashed on the walls. Then a painting of a matador and bull strikes at you. A restaurant that has quite a personality indeed. I’m liking it already. Bottles of wines are lined up on the bar while high chairs inside and outside defiantly tells you that people here like to drink and dine. Now, I’m intrigued. It looks like a bar more than a family-themed restaurant. I was a little worried that my Dad would be a little ruffled when he enters here for my brother and son’s birthday lunch on Sunday. Haha J  Well, I guess he’ll have to get used to it.

So there, lunchtime on a Sunday. My husband and I arrive first. We browsed at the menu and he orders an appetizer, Bread with tomato garlic. And I ordered the Tomato Gazpacho with Jamon croutons. The bread tastes like a take on the brushchetta, bread slices with thin tomato paste spread on top and strongly lathered with garlic. I didn't like the strong garlicky aftertaste though but I guess if you have it with beer, it wouldn’t taste as strong. 

Then I tried the Gazpacho. I have seen this cold soup sipped on a glass in the Travel network and I told myself I would try that someday. And I did, though not in a glass but in a bowl. It was a little weird tasting cold soup at first but the tomato-based flavor was smooth, not too sour while the Jamon croutons (ham portions) was delicate, it was sliced so thinly, I was amazed.

Then we had the Beso Sampler Plate. My, I haven’t seen preserved meat sliced so thinly like the Jamon croutons. Especially the Chorizo where I’ve tasted it as bulky and robust before. Here, it was flavorful but refined. The meat platter had finesse I might say, not the least barbaric. The blue cheese was also sliced the same way and it almost melts in your mouth.

When my family arrived, the waiter served the Beso Paella which we ordered earlier. And wow! I had my share of paella but I think this is the best one I had so far. The rice had so much flavor in it like it was simmered in shrimp juices or seafood broth. Even without the prawns, mussels, and clams, you can already enjoy the rice on its own. But why would anyone do that, eat just the rice? Why miss the added pork, chorizo, bacon and other treats would make it more filling and delish? Anyway, I like the validation that this is an authentic Spanish paella, this one had that crusted rice at the bottom too, yey J

We also ordered some main courses like the Pot Roasted Pork Shoulder with peppers, sherry and rice pilaf. My husband told me like it tasted like lechon (roasted pig) topped with what seemed to be a tomato-based sauce. And when I tasted it, yes, it does taste a little like lechon and if the sauce had sherry in it, it had been diluted well. Noteworthy though, is the meat's tenderness, they can cook their meat very well.

Then I had the Braised Beef Brisket, mashed potato, crushed peas and a Pedro Ximenex reduction. It was also tender and the reduction was strongly flavored, almost musky, a good complement to the languid mashed potatoes and creamy crushed peas. The contrast of flavors was interesting. A glass of wine would have been nice with it.

And though I didn't have wine, I had sangria instead which was also nice. Good thing, the waiter graciously gave me a sampler of their sangrias before I ordered a caraffe. Apparently, you can’t order just a glass, you have to get a whole pitcher. So I did because my sisters also liked to try some. I ordered the Beso sangria (far right) because it had the most vibrant ruby-purple color and had just the right combination of alcohol and fruit juices for me.

I also love the elegant chilled wine glasses where the sangria was poured in. It looked so decadent like I was dining in a posh hotel. And the sangria was refreshing, fruity with only a slight kick of alcohol, perfect for an afternoon lunch. What can I say, I’m already planning my next visit to this place, eager to sample their Squid ink Paella, their Roast Baccalao Fillet and their round of tapas, all this while savoring their chilled sangria, can’t wait J

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