Although I love Chinese and Japanese cuisine, I have a soft spot for Spanish dishes. So when I was given an opportunity to try the modern Spanish-Mediterranean food fare from the newly-opened but already one of the hippest spots in the Metro, Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge, I didn't think twice and immediately grabbed the chance.
Located at the 31st Ave. cor. 4th St. of Bonifacio Global City, Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge is secretly tucked in Commercenter Building's second floor, sharing the space with the parking area. It was quite a challenge to look for the location, especially if you don't frequent The Fort like I do.
Entering the bar was a different story though as you immediately get transported to a cozy, rustic lounge which also exudes somewhat of a gentleman's club vibe. Staying true to their inspiration, there were relic of sorts in the restaurant -- an old radio, an old typewriter, vintage decorative pieces, vinyl records, and mismatching chairs over a dim lighting. Even non-bar goers will find comfort in the very casual yet still sophisticated space of Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge.
Although one would expect the goers to do more socializing and drinking in Relik, I say, do more eating! With Chef Benjo Tuason even flown all the way from Australia just to head Relik's culinary team, one should definitely not miss the chance to sample his dishes. And with this mantra in mind, I helped myself in trying out Relik's gustatory delights, starting with some tapas -- finger food or appetizers in Spanish.
First on our table was the Baked Australian Brie (P530), creamy Yarra Valley brie cheese wrapped in jamon and lightly glazed with honey, and served with tomato salsa. Although I'm not a really big cheese lover, this serving of brie had successfully converted me. Every bite is just filled with overflowing creaminess. Even without the bread, I'd gladly munch on the cheese.
We also got to try a Tasting Board (P490) which had Jamon Serrano, 15 months boneless "Diego Martin", chorizo Pampiona "Casedemont", stuffed "Serpis" Spanish olives and Manchego 6 months "Artequeso". Although this board had a lot of flavorful tapas which everyone in our table seemed to like, my mind and heart was still with the Australian brie.
Being a quesadilla lover, I was delighted to find out that Relik also serves this Mexican favorite. It was even better since Relik offers not one, but 3 different fillings for their Quesadilla (P300).
We were lucky to get to try all 3 of Relik's Quesadillas -- Garlic Shrimp, Pulled Pork and BBQ Chicken, all served with tomato and guacamole dip. And although all 3 quesadillas were equally good, they were quite unmemorable compared to these dishes ahead.
Of course, a Spanish food spot should always have the famous and almighty paella. And true to their Spanish-Mediterranean branding, Relik delivered their signature Mixed Paella (P820) which they say was cooked in the traditional way. Filled with lots of shrimps and lovely flavors, this Valencian rice dish didn't fail to make us "oohh" and "ahh" in pleasure. It went really well with every dish we had. However, I noticed one thing -- it didn't have the slightly burnt crust of rice at the bottom. (I'm not complaining though as I really don't dig the burnt part, but some of you might look for it.)
In case you might feel like the shrimp on the paella is not enough (although I highly doubt it), there's the Gambas with a Kick (P290), the spicy version of shrimp sautéed in garlic, hot paprika and 2 kinds of chili. Although I'm not really a hot and spicy kind of gal, I really enjoyed this dish. It was not too hot for my taste buds and the shrimp pieces were cooked to a slight crunch.
We also had Relik's Beef Tenderloin Salpicao (P320) -- Australian beef tenderloin sautéed in garlic and Worcestershire sauce. Although I've grown tired of eating beef salpicao, this dish reminded me why I dig this viand in the first place. True to its promise, the beef tenderloin was indeed very tender and had a lovely garlicky flavor.
Being a bar, Relik had to offer the Pinoy favorite pulutan, sisig. But being a hip and modern bar, the people behind Relik couldn't just stick to the usual so they added a twist, made it a bit more Spanish. This is where Chorizig (P295) -- a crispy chorizo bits dish topped over the classic sisig, was born. And being a sisig lover, this plate definitely satisfied me. Both the chorizo bits and sisig pieces were crispy and very savory.
Last but definitely not the least, especially taste-wise, is the BBQ Pork Belly (P460). Slow-cooked for 18 hours with Relik's secret hickory BBQ sauce, this pork dish was very tender and very satisfying, my favorite viand to go with the paella.
To end the lovely dinner, Relik whipped up an off-menu dessert shot -- Baileys Mint Chocolate Cream Liqueur, a really creamy yet minty treat with a kick.
Before I end the review, another worth mentioning items at Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge are their cocktails which are concoctions from Miami. For the night, I had the Dragonberry Mojito, a really refreshing drink pimped with strawberries.
The night at Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge was definitely a memorable one. Although it has been programmed in my mind that bars are more for socializing and drinking, I was definitely right to eat more rather than drink more as Relik indeed served really good food. Until now, I am still craving for the Baked Australian Brie and Mixed Paella which is a good sign. This only means that this trip to Relik will not be my last.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge, Taguig
2/F Commercenter Bldg, 31st Ave cor 4th St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Metro Manila, Philippines