Friday, May 3, 2013

Rastro: Spanish Comfort Food at Burgos Circle

I have to admit, the idea of having tapas before dinner - like how they kick it in La Barceloneta - makes me uncomfortable. Not because I don't like tapas, but because it just poses too many questions about decorum for a foodie like me.

How many kinds of tapas does one usually order? How much is too much? Is it alright to have a few cocktails with your tapas before dinner? Will the waiter give me a disparaging look if I order half the tapas on the menu and then dig straight in to two kinds of paella and then some before enjoying two kinds of dessert?

Luckily for me, nothing is considered taboo at Rasto. I'd always pass by this place at Burgos Circle, but have never really stepped into the restaurant 'til the other night. Rasto has had a change of management, and with that, a breath of fresh, new ideas as well as a few additions to the menu while keeping most of the customer favorites.

It also happened to be Oyster Night at Rastro when I was invited with the rest of the class of bloggers (It sounds better than a horde of bloggers and yey, I'm part of a class!) to check the place out.

We were greeted at the door by Erica and a slew of cocktails, and treated to freshly shucked oysters done three ways: fresh with condiments (they still smelled like the ocean), baked with pancetta, and oyster fritters with aioli. Everything was really, really good. This was definitely going to be one helluva night.

When everyone was in attendance, we then retired to the dining room on the second floor for more cocktails and tapas that seemed to just keep on coming. It was like they had a tapas assembly line going on in the kitchen - the service was so fast!


The Chistora is a type of chorizo Rasto imports from Spain. It was meaty and garlicky, with a bit of spice, and quite filling for little nibbles on a plate. This is definitely one of my favorite tapas on the menu, and definitely one with the most flavor.

The Bolitos Negros (P120) was a surprise when I bit into it. I initially thought it was some sort of potato ball, but it turned out to be deep fried Paella Negra Balls with aioli sauce. Jericho and I kept doing a smile check after each bite - we were good.

I didn't try the Crispy Tawilis (P95) - deep fried whole tawilis served with white vinegar. It disappeared pretty quickly, so I'll take that as a good sign.

The Tinapa Triangles (P140) were delicate and delicious. The little pockets held mini tinapa and some cream cheese triangles that was paired with Rastro's homemade salsa, like a little seafood somosa.

The servers took up a beautiful plate laden with three kinds of tapas for the table: more Chistora (yey!), Crispy Tawilis, and Gambas al Ananda, which essentially was Gambas covered with a spiced crab fat sauce. This is another personal favorite, with the spice of the crab fat sauce and the Gambas doing a merry jig in my mouth with each bite. It's may be really bad for your cholesterol levels, but it tastes so good!

The Huevos Rancheros is also in my top three must-try tapas list - shoestring potatoes and homemade chorizo bits act as the bed for a perfectly executed sunny side up egg, that is then drizzled with aioli. This is definitely not a type of breakfast food!

All sorts of marvelous things happen once you stuff this in your gob: you hear the crunch,crunch, crunch of the shoestring potatoes, the spice of the chorizo melds with the hint of aioli, and everything gets covered with the delicate yellow yolk.

We were also served a few more tapas to sample: Croquetas de Chorizo, Croquetas de Sardinas, Chorizo and Manchego Pizzetas, and Jamon Serrano and Ovieja Pizzetas. I wasn't able to get a taste as I was too distracted with the Chistora, the Gambas al Ananda, and the Huevos Rancheros.


I like how Rastro doesn't try to invent the wheel with their cuisine - they stick to the tried and tested Spanish favorites we have all come to know and love, and offer them at a lover price point than most Spanish restaurants at The Fort.

Another great thing about dining at Rastro is that they make everything using fresh ingredients - organic products sourced from local farmers, whenever possible. They do not microwave or reheat any of their food, and this is very evident with every mouthful. If the food is good, the people will come. And hey, we did!

See that beauty there? The Paella Catalana (Small - P490, Medium - P950, Large - P1,350) is the specialty of the house, and with good reason. Saffron rice is topped with mussels, clams, prawns, chicken, pork and Spanish chorizo. The rice is pillow-y soft, there was a pretty generous amount of meat on there for at least four people, and the prawns were huge!

I was kind of hoping to get to scrape off some of the burnt paella bits off the bottom of the pan, but it was done so well there was nothing to scrape off! Would it be taboo if I asked my server to ask that the chef forget about my paella for an extra 15 minutes? Making that scratchy sound in Spanish restaurants is one of my guilty pleasures, a sign even of good thoroughly enjoyed paella.

If dining at Rastro has taught me anything, it's  to not be afraid of squid ink paella. The Paella Negra a la Mariana (Small - P450, Medium - P850, Large - P1,200) is made of squid ink rice, squid rings, mussels and fish fillets.

This was Jericho's favorite. He liked how the flavors were light, and how all the seafood tasted very fresh. The fish fillets were soft and flaky, the squid was cooked 'til it was soft with a bit of a bite and the mix of lemon and aioli rounded out the flavors of the dish quite well.

The Pollo Asado Ariero (Small - P580, Large - P1,1080) was a hit at the table - everyone couldn't stop raving about it! The chicken is marinated in olive oil, garlic and spices, and then slow baked with marble potatoes.

This method of cooking browned the chicken while keeping it super moist, with the flavors of the olive oil, garlic and spices seeping into every crack and crevice of the wonderfully juicy fowl. This pan has so much win, I cannot begin to tell you. Just order it when you're at Rastro!

I was stuffed to almost bursting when the Chorizo Pasta came out. Made with Rastro's homemade chorizo, it was surprisingly light, with the spicy, garlicky chorizo lending the dish most of its flavor. This makes for a good starter dish if you want to skip the tapas.


We thought we were done for the night, until the guys at Rastro came up with dessert! I had a quizzical look when I saw the Turrones Pastor (P180) - it looked like pencil-thin turon. "What on earth could they stuff in there that was that thin?", I asked myself. I took a bite, and the taste of really good flan and a bit of arnibal was the first thing I tasted. Holy shiz, a crème brûlée turon? I was so happy. This is definitely something different.

Although I was delighted by the surprise of the Turrones Pastor, at the back of my head that little voice kept whispering how I needed my chocolate fix. I must've been talking out loud, for up came slices of Triple Chocolate Silk (P220)! What is it? Layers of dark, milk and white chocolate mousse on an Oreo crumb crust with blackberry and red wine reduction.

Everything just melts once it touches your lips. It's the best version of mousse I've had in the longest time. Even if you're not a fan of tapas and paella, you just have to try this if you're in the area. It'll do wonders for your disposition, too!

The cocktails didn't stop coming while we were at Rastros. We were served Harvey Wallbangers, Sidecars, Guavatinis, Mojitos, Red Wine Spritzers and White Wine Spritzers. All the cocktails were perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of alcohol, so you end up enjoying your night, not leaving with a pre-hangover.

They have a special un-named cocktail that Cynthia, one of the owners, had us try - shots of a sangria-like mixture and chilled orange juice. You can either take a sip or shot of each one separately, or mix the two together and down it like that.

A Sangria Sunset? A Rastro Mimosa? Whatever they end up calling it, I want me more of them!

If you do end up having more than too much to drink, you can ask for their 'hangover breakfast cure'. Lol. It has all the makings of a Spanish breakfast - chorizo, garlic, a poached egg, and toast, that you can dip into a hearty broth and wait for the carbs in the dish to suck up the excess alcohol. I likethat the guys at Rastros come prepared!

Thank you to the wonderful owner, Cynthia, and the kickass PR person, Erica. We had tons delicious food, and the energy of the place is fun, fun, fun! I'm definitely coming back for Salsa Sundays!

When mucking around Burgos Circle, stop by Rastro for innovative tapas, Spanish comfort food, and amazing dessert!

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Photos courtesy of Jericho San Miguel

+63 2 556-1497
WS 4, Forbes Town Centre, Burgos Circle,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Open Daily: 11am - 12am