If you’ve had to sit through a full-course meal at a Spanish restaurant in the past, I’m sure that you would agree with me that it can get overwhelming for the uninitiated. There is something about the variety of the dishes, and being afraid to make the mistake of eating the dish the wrong way, that was keeping me from enjoying meals served in a Spanish restaurant. Some restaurants just doesn’t make it straightforward enough so that the diners could have their meal without feeling dumb or confused. Hence, when TAPELLA opened its doors with the offer of an exciting new way to enjoy Spanish cuisine, I was filled with hope that this time around, I could have my fill of delectable Spanish dishes without the overwhelming feeling I last remember having in a similarly themed restaurant.
TAPELLA by Gaudi effortlessly pulls off the contemporary feel that matches the vibrant atmosphere of the contemporary Greenbelt 5. Wooden chairs and tables adorned the restaurant, while soothing music filled the air. The glass windows let in most of the sunlight, making it well lit in the mornings to early afternoons. The restaurant is located at the far end of the strip of restaurants, which is noteworthy especially if you’re seeking a little more privacy and isolation from the rest of the busy mall area. A spacious alfresco dining area and bar is available outside for those who wish to smoke or simply enjoy their meal closer to the gardens of Greenbelt.
The restaurant’s variety of tapas was extensive, and each one I’ve sampled was most enjoyable with wine. Each dish’s serving size is big enough to be shared by two people, and in some occasions, maybe even three to four if you’re indulging in more than two tapas. The Tortilla Abierta con Chorizo will surely be loved and equally appreciated by egg lovers. It was unlike any other, and made even tastier with the bits and pieces of chorizo that provided the much-needed hint of spice in the dish. The Pulpo a la Gallega is a dish made of octopus mixed with paprika, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil, and lined underneath by thick potato slices. The Chistorra Vasca, also known as Basque chorizo sausage, was a bit saltier than the other tapas and best enjoyed with a piece of bread to neturalize the flavor. Finally, the Gambas al Ajillo, or shrimps sauteed in garlic, was the most memorable dish for me. I’m not usually fond of garlic and oily dishes, but I’ll make an exception for this one because the garlic in the dish was crunchy and tasty, the kind that you just can’t keep your hands off until the last piece is gone and there’s none to be had.
The Calamari el Bulli easily piques the curiosity with its appearance. Its basically fried calamari with squid ink mixed in with the batter, hence the charred looking squid rings. Despite the attention it calls upon itself, it has nothing on the regular golden-fried calamari. In fact, it doesn’t have any remarkable flavor. In case you’re going for this dish, and any other similarly colored dish in the menu, do watch out for black stains on your lips and teeth. They would be hard to avoid, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the dish varieties with squid ink.
The choice of paellas was nothing short of mouthwatering, either. There was a paella for every craving and for every kind of eater. Never mind the stains the Black Paella is going to leave on your teeth. It was superb and tasty, simple and straightforward. The Arroz Manchego, with its delightful combination of chicken, shrimp, and asparagus, topped with melted Manchego cheese, was every bit as satisfying. The Cocido Paella, also known as the all-meat variety will surely appeal to meatlovers who enjoy their rice with a hefty fill of meat. Finally, the Arroz a la Valenciana is a great choice for healthy eaters, with its share of chicken and vegetables, cooked the Valencia way. Cooking paella the “Valencia way” gives it a distinctly better consistency since it is cooked over firewood that allows for a less harsh combustion.
There is so much more to TAPELLA than the dishes I’ve featured here, and not one blog post can detail the Spanish cuisine experience it offers. I haven’t even gotten to the desserts, which capped our lunch experience perfectly, the kind that leaves us full yet longing for the next opportunity to have a taste of the good things that we’ve tried that day. Executive Chef Robert Spakowski has more in store for those who are ready to have their fill of good food matched with equally great wine. Do swing by TAPELLA by Gaudi at Greenbelt 5 and see for yourself which dish from their menu will make you crave for Spanish cuisine like loco.–HANA