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BGC’s Bolero Manila serves up modern Euro cuisine by a Michelin Guide chef

By Karl R. De Mesa Published Dec 09, 2023 2:38 pm

A fair amount of sweet-talking went into the making of Bolero, the newest resto bar in BGC with palates arrayed towards modern Iberian and European fine dining cuisine, yet with the kind of atmosphere and prices of casual dining fare.  

Felipe Diaz De Miranda, one of the founders and co-owners of what he admits is their intentionally cheekily named establishment, has been living in Manila since 2016. But it wasn’t until last year when he got invited as a plus-one to a wedding in his native Spain that Bolero, as a concept and business, started gelling together.  

Inside Bolero Manila

The groom at the said wedding was Chef Fernando Alcala, a famous lawyer-turned-chef. In 2022, Alcala was already a feted heavyweight of the Spanish culinary scene, having been named Chef Revelacion 2019 at Madrid Fusion (his cheesecake was voted the best in Spain) and his luxurious Kava restaurant highlighted in the Michelin Guide 2020 as Bib Gourmand. 

We didn't know each other but I was invited. All I knew was he was going to his honeymoon in the Philippines,” Diaz De Miranda told PhilSTAR L!fe. So we started talking Philippines and right away we have love at first sight!”  

He continued, “We connected super good and the whole time, people were like: Who the hell is that guy? Why is he with the groom the whole time? Because no one, I mean, no one knew me. But at that point, I said, all the things have aligned!”  

At the end of the night, Alcala and Diaz De Miranda were intoxicated with dreams and wine, hatching plans to expand into Manila and maybe elsewhere in Asia.  

By the time Alcala and his new bride had come to the Philippines for their honeymoon, Diaz De Miranda had teamed up with his friend, Luis De Isasa Munoz, another Spanish expat in Manila to convince the renowned chef to open what now stands at Verve Tower 2 along BGC High Street South, or what the three boleros call "your culinary affair."

Felipe Diaz De Miranda, Chef Fernando Alcala, and Luis De Isasa Munoz

Sure, three Spanish guys opening a resto that brings fine dining taste to a more affordable price point and inserting words like “casual” and “European” under the flag of a double entendre term, could just be all tongue-in-cheek fugazi. But the food at our tasting session was proof that their saccharine claims to temptation surpassed any of theirmarketing hyperbole.  

Bolero wants to bring Spanish fine dining that is recognized worldwide to a casual concept,” exclaimed Diaz De Miranda. “It’s a casual concept that means it's accessible for everyone, yet this is still the kind of fine dining that rich Filipinos go to Spain for.” 

For a light snack to whet your appetite, the Ginger Basil Mocktail (P350) is refreshing and possessed that apt salabat zing you’d expect. Couple that with their Parmesan Cookies (P280) and you’ve got a good pairing that gets you to the starters. 

Ginger Basil Mocktail (P350) and Parmesan Cookies (P280)

The Ricotta Cheese and Green Onion Waffle (P540) is a standout that references eating Mediterranean and Middle Eastern style, scooping with a flat bread, except the bubble waffle's pillowy texture and onion bits is a perfect pairing to the ricotta’s saltiness, its rough flavor bomb cluster. We predict this will quickly disappear in any group setting 

Ricotta Cheese and Green Onion Waffle (P540)

The philosophy often centers around the celebration of rich flavors, traditional cooking methods, and a melting pot of different cultures,” said Chef Fernando. “Also, high creativity, and a focus on high-quality ingredients that capture the essence of Spanish culinary traditions.” 

Towards that end, their Signature Potato Fries (P450is just really rectangular and super crispy fries fried to a crackly chicharon texture, but it's oh-so-good. This is why this cuisine is elevated casual.  

“What Fernando talks about are the rich flavors andtraditional ways of cooking but through a melting pot of different cultures,” added Diaz De Miranda. “He taketechniques or products from all over the world and rethink the classic ways of cooking in Spain.”  

Signature Potato Fries (P450)

Another starter we tasted was the Pork Dumplings in Moorish Tomato Dressing (P680). This dish requires a pretty open mind as neither the rich sauce pairing or the firm texture of the dumpling resembles or echoes anything that I've tasted around SEA or South Asian cuisine. The sauce does hit you like a truck with a peppery and sour at the front, much like a vinegar and soy mix except this one’s made mainly with tomatoes. Then there's a hint of sweet and bitter finish a la something from south of Spain. If you are a fan of our local siomai or its varieties like xiao long bao, you may be left wondering there this flavor profile idea came from.  

Pork Dumplings in Moorish Tomato Dressing (P680)

One of the things they don’t slouch on is the meat department, and their 250g Iberian Porkchop (P1,390would be worth the price of admission in its perfection, or its perfecto. The owners and Chef Fernando, as well as Bolero’s full-time executive chef Chef Inès Matera (an international chef who’s worked in Argentina and Uruguay), have pulled no punches and put this Iberian cooking method of slow roasting.

They showcased their unique Josper Grill, apparently a legend in the world of Spanish charcoal gastronomy, that lets them get this chop as tender as possible. What this means is that all that yummy fat and carbs feel like they're just melting in your mouth, uber soft and excellent that you don't even need a knife to cutServed with some liver sauce on the side to add creaminess and dimension, plunge your fork in and enjoy.  

250g Iberian Porkchop (P1,390)

Always leave room for dessert as you’ll definitely need space for the generously sliced Award-Winning Spain Cheesecake (P490)This is the very same cake that is served at Chef Fernando’s Kava restaurant in Marbella, Spain that won him a Best Cheesecake in Spain title in 2019.

The Michelin Guide gushes over it, calling it “a cheesecake that is out of this world. And boy, going beyond Earth might just be the only sane reaction to a veritably simple cake that makes you reassess what the heck you've been eating all those years that's supposedly labelled cheesecake, while choirs of angels sing hosannas in your ear. Made sans sugar, just sweetened with honey, and with several kinds of soft cheese inside (like mascarpone) with a toasted top, Chef Ines insisted I take a bite right in front of her when it was served. "I want to see your face when you taste it," she said.

Award-Winning Spain Cheesecake (P490)

Having delicious food is really one of life's simple joys, and it’s easy to capitulate to a chef’s sweet talk when you’re served the best 

Bolero turns from resto into a bar after dinner hours and a DJ sometimes spins for the dance floor. There are lounging sofas in their al fresco areas as well as diner style booths inside. 

At a max capacity of around 120 people, Bolero also offers a closed-off area for private parties located beyond the open concept kitchen that’s aptly called The Backstage. 

The Backstage

Bolero is open seven days a week, from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Check out their Instagram page for their menu and other dishes.