Friday, February 5, 2016

Alqueria Tapas, Paellas y Bistecas in SM Megamall

I was already based abroad when SM Megamall opened a new wing called the Fashion Hall. Despite it's name, this area quickly became a favorite of fellow foodies as in here you can find a number of international restaurant franchises and some cool local ones. Since I can't just hop on a plane and fly home on a whim, I would continue to grow my list of restaurants in hopes that I'll be able to visit them when I'm in Manila.

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So, last October, Paul and I decided to have a really belated birthday celebration with my in-laws. While planning for the said meal, I referred to my list and zeroed in on Alqueria which is a Spanish
restaurant conveniently located in SM Megamall. I miss having Spanish food as I haven't really fond a good one in the Lion City which would match up to my favorites here.

As SM Megamall is forever crowded, it was a challenge to park most especially on a Sunday. That said, we got to the restaurant past lunch hour and everyone was feeling hungry. As a result, we ordered pretty much half of the menu to share:

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Gambas al Ajillo (Php. 375)
This is always my staple order when dining in any Spanish restaurant. I love shrimps and all the more, I love garlicky shrimps! Alqueria's version was pretty good and I do appreciate the fact that it came with some bread which allowed us to mop up those delicious garlic olive oil afterwards.

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Calamares Fritos (Php. 290)
Another favorite of mine. However this one came a bit cold and chewy. This was a disappointment as the sauce was actually really flavorful and we could imagine how good it would have been with crunchy, deep-fried squid. For this, I surely had better tasting ones elsewhere.

We also had the Pulpo a la Gallega (Php. 288) which was a great discovery. This was recommended by our server and we reluctantly ordered just one. After we all got our first bite, Mommy told me to order another more as we surely wanted some more. We all love the delicious octopus gratin which was covered with mashed potato and cheese. Such a rich and creamy starter that I highly recommend for you to try as well.

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For some odd reason, I was in the mood for some fresh salad then. I tried the Ensalada Caesar (Php. 330) which was pretty good. I know, it's silly of me to get a regular caesar salad at a Spanish restaurant but I was so happy that it was nicely done. So now, you know should you also be craving for salad at Alqueria, you are assured that you'll get a pretty yummy one.

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Moving, we tried two types of paellas that day. First was the Paella Negra (Php. 545/Php. 825/Php. 1,480). This is my favorite type of paella and I love it more whenever it comes with creamy garlic aioli. It was really yummy albeit lacking in toppings.

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What makes Alqueria unique and one that has been getting raves from foodies is that it offers "New World Paellas", a wide-variety of their modern take on the classic paella favorites. Ever heard of Paella Chicharonnes or the drool-worthy Serrano Ham and Foie Gras Paella? We tried the Fisherman's Paella (Php. 885) and I have to say that it was the bomb! A really good twist to the Paella Marinera as this one gives you the choice between wild or short grain rice which is cooked in saffron-infused stock and pomodoro sauce then mixed with shrimps, mussels, squid and their fish of the day. Really good and delicious! Next time, I'm trying the Foie Gras Paella too.

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As Alqueria's name says it, we're tried a couple of tapas and paellas, now it's time to go for the grilled meats (bistecas). We went for the Lamb Chops (Php. 2,380 / full rack) which was good for all 8 of us. the meat was so tender and definitely gamey odor-free. I love how you get that bit of salt texture in every bite. We got this with some shredded corn and veggies at the side. It may be a bit pricey but I promise you it was really yummy.

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Lastly, we got the Cochinillo Sisig (Php. 688) which we decided to order because it sounded really interesting. Unfortunately, this was the only dish we all didn't like from all the ones that we ordered that day. The pork was just way too salty and the fried onion on top somehow didn't blend well with the entire dish. I'm definitely skipping this next time.

Over-all though, our lunch at Alqueria was really satisfying and it now ranks as one of our favorite Spanish restaurants in Manila. I love how it's located in a mall making it so convenient especially when you have to run errands or do some shopping prior or after your meal.

Check out Alqueria Tapas, Paellas y Bistecas at the 3F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Avenue, Mandaluyong City. Call them at 631-9102. 

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