What better way to chill and catch up with friends than to visit a Spanish tapas bar... And this is exactly what we did last week as my pals and I visited the new tapas bar along Jupiter Street, Cova Tapas Y Sangria -- a joint venture of Tatyana Guevara and Patrick Hesse, both of whom after graduating from Enderun College, trained at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona before returning to Manila to finally open their own modern Spanish tapas bar.
Although I admit that I'm a hearty eater, surprisingly, tapas or the appetizers and snacks in Spanish cuisine, appeal to me. Maybe it's some of the influence the Spanish has passed down to us, or maybe I just simply love pica-picas. But whichever it is, I'm sure anyone who'll walk into the bar will find themselves amused by the unconventional yet aesthetically-drawing modern cave-like design of Cova Tapas Y Sangria.
The stylish cave of tapas and sangria may not house more than fifty guests. But if you've made a reservation for the night, I'm sure you'll definitely enjoy lounging in the cozy bar space which gives off a very relaxing vibe with its dim ambient lighting, light-colored caving-in walls and ceiling, and sleek modern black furniture -- the perfect pair for light yet satisfying tapa (good for one to two people) or racion (good for three to four).
To start off our evening snack, we had the Huevos Cabreados (P260) -- a plateful of shoestring potatoes, chorizo bits and sunny-side up egg, drizzled with Spanish pesto and outlined with spicy brava sauce. Although this item seems simple, the subtle breakfast flavors will definitely wake up your senses. Mix this plate up, and I'm sure you'll love the harmony of soft, crunchy, savory, spicy and a little hint of tang in this dish.
We then sampled the Pintxo de Queso Frito (Tapa P180; Racion P360), fried Gruyere cheese topped with caramelized onions, sitting on a bed of honey, balsamic cream and Spanish pesto. Being a cheese lover, I fell in love at first bite -- slightly crispy on the outside and gooey, cheesy and nutty on the inside. And when dipped onto the sauce, prepare your palate for a beautiful blend of salty, tangy, sweet and earthy flavors.
Next we had was the Cap I Pota (Tapa P250; Racion P500), a stew of tender yet still quite chewy ox tripe and cheeks, flavorful jamon and blood sausage, tangy tomatoes and sultanas, and crunchy pine nuts, which resembles the traditional Spanish Callos. If you love savory tapas like me, then I bet you'd also fall in love with the sweet, meaty and nutty flavors of this dish which is best paired with a warm serving of rice or toasted bruschetta.
We then got to sample the Ravioli de Rabo de Toro (Tapa P240; Racion P480), deep-fried pockets of ox tail, foie gras and shiitake mushrooms, on a bed of ox tail jus, balsamic cream and Spanish pesto. Though a bite from the ravioli already gives off a meaty, savory filling, dipping it onto the sauce even takes the ensemble up a notch.
It may look like a dessert item, but this is actually Espuma Bacalao (P380) -- a glass filled with layers of salt cod foam, potato, olives, garlic confit and bits of cod at the bottom. The blend of cod and espuma (foam) made the dish salty yet airy and mouse-like in texture. And just like how I enjoyed my first taste of espuma, I've found myself digging in on this glass of modern appetizer yet again.
For dessert, we had the Crema Catalana (P200), the Catalonian version of crème brûlée with a slice of orange and topped with some silver dragées. Unlike the classic crème brûlée, the custard of this dessert is softer, less firm and quite mushy. It took me a few spoonfuls before I got used to its texture which is the very opposite of the firm yet soft, and smooth crema I'm used to. However, I definitely dig the sweet and tangy flavor of this dessert, as well as my favorite cracking caramelized layer.
Of course, a visit to Cova Tapas Y Sangria wouldn't be complete without trying its best-selling sangrias, both of which are made from imported Spanish wines and chopped fruits. And while I expected the Cova Red Sangria (500ml P447; 1L P895) to be a strong blend of a fruit punch, I was quite surprised that it was very sweet, fruity and milder on the alcohol. However, it was surprisingly the exact opposite for the carafe of Summer Peachy White Wine Sangria (500ml P447; 1L P895). A single sip will definitely give off a strong alcohol flavor albeit being equally fruity.
Although I'm not a regular drinker, I definitely enjoyed pairing Cova's sangrias with their flavorful traditional and modern Spanish tapas. Every item we got to try assured us that we are in the right bar -- a perfect place to enjoy good food and catch up with friends while enjoying a cozy and laid back atmosphere. So if you're like me who's not much into loud and dark bars, then Cova Tapas Y Sangria is definitely the perfect destination.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Cova Tapas Y Sangria, Jupiter Street
22 Jupiter St, Brgy Bel-Air
Makati City, Metro Manila