Cova Tapas Y Sangria & Las Flores

A recent article I read stated that Spanish cuisine was beating front runners such as French and Italian in the European culinary race. I personally feel that most Filipinos will always have a soft spot for Spanish food… Even if they do pair most tapas with garlic rice. I must admit I have been known to be guilty of that. There are days I just want spicy gambas with a steaming hot plate of garlic rice. Either way, my love affair with Spanish tapas goes way back. Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers had the most amazing recipes and would prepare Spanish dishes regularly. I still believe that the best Spanish food the Philippines has to offer can be found not in the hands of our talented local chefs but in the homes of those who have spent years perfecting what has been passed on from generation to generation. But just because something cannot be considered “the best” does not mean that it is not good, or even great. I’ve had wonderful experiences in both of these establishments. Cova Tapas Y Sangria and Las Flores are both relatively new in the local dining scene, one barely a year old and the other just a few months into the swing. Both serve tapas and have a modern take on Spanish cuisine and both have a good wine selection and refreshing cocktails to satisfy you. They are actually quite similar, but each has their own special charm.

Many have asked me to recommend one but the truth is that I cannot choose one over the other. There are elements I like about each one. I am going to make a few comparisons to help you decide.

Upon entering a place, I always notice their interiors and surroundings. A restaurant must look inviting and must capture all my senses. I like to study the ceilings, walls, floors and the furnishing. I even notice flatware, cutlery, napkins and what the wait staff is wearing. Asides from looking inviting, I like it when places not only look but feel clean. No fingerprints on glasses or food on the floor. Both Cova and Las Flores passed those tests. Interior wise, Cova is more modern and masculine while Las Flores is just plain charming. For my taste, Las Flores wins this round. I love the vibe of the place with its quiet corners and its intimate bar. It is the perfect setting for a girl’s night or a romantic date.

Cova’s White and Red Sangria

Las Flores’ Sangria Blanca

When out to dinner, I usually start with a cocktail and when in Rome (or Spain) I always go for the Sangria. I am actually a white sangria lover. I truly enjoyed both the red and white sangrias of Cova. Not too sweet and ultimately really refreshing. I think I could have finished the whole liter to myself! Las Flores’ Sangria Blanca was not to my liking. I found that the added flavors overpowered the delicateness of the wine. I ended up ordering  a few of their best selling cocktails and those I would definitely go back for. The Calamansi and Cherry Blossom Moscow Mule is to die for and the Caipirinha-Brazil was great.

As for the tapas, here goes…

Las Flores’ Gambas Al Ajillo Picantes, Por Supuesto

Cova’s Gambas Al Ajillo

I almost always have gambas when I go for Spanish, it’s comfort food for me. It is also hard to get it wrong and when a place does, it is definitely a sign of bad things to come. I loved Las Flores version which was simple and familiar: fresh shrimp, garlic, and chili in olive oil. It is everything you look for in the dish. Cova had a nice plate of gambas as well but their version had aligue. This was in interesting addition and a welcome surprise.

Cova’s Patatas Bravas

Las Flores Patatas Bravas

I have never been the biggest fan of patatas bravas but both establishments pleasantly surprised me with their versions.  In this case, Cova’s bite sized potato pillows had the perfect balance of creamy alioli and the sweet spicy brava filling. The larger portion of Las Flores’ Patatas Bravas was well executed and the sauce definitely had a good kick to it.

Las Flores’ Croquetas de Chorizo Caseras de la Abuela 

Cova’s Ravioli de Rabo de Toro Tapa

Anything breaded or stuffed then deep fried makes me happy. The croquetas of Las Flores hit the spot. Their chorizo one has a wonderful creamy filling oozing with the flavor of Spanish sausage. Even their Croquetas de Pollo Asado Caseras de la Abuela which has a roasted chicken filling is great. In Cova, I opted to try something a little different, one of their best sellers, the Ravioli de Rabo de Toro Tapa which was excellent. The ravioli is fried to a crisp and is stuffed with a smooth combination of oxtail, foie gras and shitake mushrooms. One of the best items on the menu in deed! Also try Cova’s Pintxo de Queso Frito which is deep fried gruyere topped with sweet caramelized onions.

Cova is an interesting new concept on the tapas bar, most items on their menu are small portioned so you can order a variety of dishes. No Spanish tapas restaurant would be complete without salpicao and they use wagyu veal cheeks seasoned with garlic and paprika. Another item which I throughly enjoyed was the Huevos Cabreados which is shoestring potatoes topped with crisp chorizo, fried eggs and alioli. Such a simple combination but really, really good. Also try their tapas which are served like open faced sandwiches. My favorite is the Montadito de Sobrassada which is an indulgent combination of blood sausage with melted gruyere cheese and topped with caramelized onions. A close second is their tapa version of surf and turf, Mar y Tierra.

Salpicao de Mejillas de Ternera

Cova’s Huevos Cabreados

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cova’s Montadito de Sobrassada

 

 

Cova’s Mar y Tierra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Las Flores has such a homey, relaxed vibe. There is something about the place that feels very authentic. It could be that most of the dishes are straightforward and reminiscent of the Spanish food you grew up with. It may also have something to do with the service which feels so personal. The staff happily greets you with a smile and even though the place always seems packed they manage to find a place for you. Even the drinks they serve seem so carefully prepared, like a lot of love was put into it. When dining, you must try their paella. It is good for 2-3 people but I honestly can have one whole to myself!

Las Flores’ Paella Negra con Sepia paired with the Calamansi and Cherry Blossom Moscow Mule

 

* Cova is located at #22 Jupiter Street, Bel Air, Makati. (02)4789700

* Las Flores is located at G/F One Mckinely Place, 25th Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. (02)5522815

 

 

 

 

 

 

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