A Kiss of Superb Spanish Food at Beso Cucina Vinoteka

It’s Valentine’s Day — a time for flowers, chocolates, sweet notes, and of course, kisses!
Speaking of kisses, you probably know what a French kiss is. But have you ever had a Spanish kiss? I had, and it was delicious! Before you get intrigued, let me stop you right there. I am talking about Beso, a restaurant in Bonifacio Global City that serves good Spanish food by Chef Carlo Miguel, who also helped create well-known restaurants like Scarsdale Artisanal Delights, Draft, Distillery, Imperial, Opus, Epic in Boracay, and 71 Gramercy. Beso is a Spanish word for “kiss,” and let me tell you, once the food of Beso touches your lips, you will never forget your first kiss, and you’re going to want more!
Outside Beso
Beso has a bar where you can chill with your buddies and drink to your heart’s content
We went there during the day so it looks bright in this photo, but the restaurant actually has a dark ambiance at night, which makes the place look more romantic. It is a great place to have a dinner date.
The menu is scrawled on the walls, but of course the actual menu changes from time to time.
 Large painting of a Spanish toro 
The open kitchen where you can see everything going on. 
I had the chance to sit down with Chef Carlo, who talked to us about his food, his journey as a chef, and interesting facts about Spanish food and culture. He told us that he grew up in Sydney but he is half Spanish, and a lot of his recipes are creations of his Spanish mother. However, though he comes from Spanish descent, he enjoys cooking all kinds of food and doesn’t limit himself to Spanish food.
Chef Carlo Miguel
Here are some of the drinks, dishes, and desserts that I got to try:


Calamansi Sangria
(PHP 850 per pitcher)
When the waiters served us the Calamansi Sangria, I thought, “An alcoholic beverage at 2:00 in the afternoon? Party time!” When I had a sip of it, I was convinced that it is never too early or too late for a good sangria! Beso’s Calamansi Sangria was so refreshing that I can have it any time of the day. I don’t think the alcohol level is that strong anyway (which might be sad news for heavy drinkers but good news for me) since I had three glasses and did not really feel even the slightest bit buzzed. I really loved this drink (is it obvious now?). I thought it would be sour because of the freshly squeezed calamansi but it’s actually sweet and fruity. Plus, it’s loaded with Vitamin C! See? It’s healthy! Now you have an excuse to drink!
Beso Sangria
(PHP 850)
They also have the Beso Sangria, which contains apple juice and cranberry juice. This one has a stronger, more intoxicating taste.


Salad of Crisp Oyster Mushroom, Feta Marinated Onions, and Tomato
(PHP 235)
Out of all their salads, this is one of their best, according to Chef Carlo. The oysters look like they have been preserved to achieve that paper-thin and crisp texture. It’s like eating oyster potato chips! I thought it was all right but it’s one of the dishes I’d skip because I just want to get right to the heavy dishes like paella and meats! The salad did not come with any dressing, though, so you may find it a bit dry. On the other hand, the absence of dressing will make you appreciate the crunchiness of the oysters and vegetables.

Cured Meats

Cured Meats Platter : Jamon Serrano, Jamon Reserve, Chorizo Iberico, Lomo Iberico, and Chorizo Pamplona
(PHP 410)

Jamon Serrano – air cured for 36 months, sliced paper thin, very nutty and rich pork flavour

Chorizo Iberico – dry cured for 3 months with salt, black pepper, oregano, and pimento
Lomo Iberico – dry cured for 3 months with salt, garlic, and pimento
I love eating cured meats! Even when I’m at a buffet, I can never pass up on these. Beso’s cured meats are very thinly sliced but each sliver of meat boasts of a robust flavor.  It’s so hard to stop eating these! These are best enjoyed with a glass of wine, and yes, the Calamansi Sangria!


Crispy Mussels with Jamon, Garlic, & Bacon Foam
(PHP 290)
I don’t eat mussels. This is going to make me sound weird, but the reason for this is because I think they look ugly. Seriously. They remind me of a pest that I would rather not specify, lest you gag and lose your appetite (clue: Joe’s Apartment). When Beso served us their Crispy Mussels, though, they looked everything but ugly. In fact, they looked very tempting with their crisp coating and bubbly foam. I sure did not mind eating that! When I took a bite of this crunchy appetizer, I know I could have been fooled. Had I been blindfolded, I wouldn’t even have known that I was chewing on mussels. They tasted like yummy and meaty premium chicken nuggets to me!
Crispy Pork Belly Chicharones with Chili Lime Aioli
(PHP 395)
This is something I think my titos (uncles) would like munching on as they down their beer and sing karaoke songs.This appetizer is one that people would probably call “so bad but so good.” Fried + pork + belly = a deadly combination. But because it’s really crispy and the jalapeño aioli sauce is good and tangy, you wouldn’t mind having it as a snack and then having a heart attack. 

Clams with Bacon, Garic, Sherry, and Parsley
(PHP 290)
After pigging out on the Crispy Pork Belly Chicharones, balance it out with something healthy: clams! Clams are said to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are important for a healthy heart, according to this article. This is one of the Chef’s recommendation. This is my first time to eat bacon mixed with clams, and it was a different but good mix. Also, you can be assured that the clams, as well as other seafood in Beso’s menu are free from red tide because Chef Carlo orders his seafood from places like New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Gambas Sauteed in Chorizo, Garlic, White Wine, and Parsley
(PHP 480)
When I first saw the gambas of Beso served sizzling on a hot plate, I didn’t think it was actually gambas because normally, when I order this dish in other restaurants, I get puny shrimps that have to be scooped out from a mass of vegetables and sauce. In Beso’s gambas dish, though, the shrimps were not just extras. They actually played the lead role. I exclaimed, “These shrimps are so big!” Chef Carlo said that that’s how gambas should be done. I’m liking the Spanish style! If you like your gambas spicy though, you might want to ask for extra chili because Beso’s Gambas isn’t hot at all.
Mushroom Croquetas with Truffled Aioli
(PHP 270)
From the outside, they look like the typical breaded croquettes. But as I bit into one of them, it was if there were fireworks in my mouth. I mean, mushrooms and truffles?! As Julie Andrews said, “these are a few of my favorite things.” This appetizer may appear to be simple, but you’ll be surprised once you taste it. And what a creamy and tasty surprise it is! Good news to all the vegetarians: this dish is good for you!
Fried Peri Peri Chicken Slider, Aioli, Shredded Romaine
(PHP 275)
First of all, what is peri peri?
“Piri piri, also called African bird’s eye chili, is a cultivar of Capsicum frutescens, one of the sources of chili pepper, that grows both wild and domesticated.” (From Wikipedia)
From that definition, you’d know that: a) this dish is spicy, and b) it is an African recipe. But I thought Beso was a Spanish restaurant? Chef Carlo explained that yes, it is a Spanish restaurant, but for variety, he also integrates recipes and ingredients from other parts of the world in his dishes. These sliders were not only cute but they were also pretty tasty. The spice is just right and the chicken has a nice texture – crispy outside and soft inside. 


Beso Paella
For 2-3: PHP 635
For 6-8: PHP 1,365
I’ve eaten lots of paella dishes before and thought they were okay, until I had some of my boyfriend’s grandmother’s paella. She’s Spanish so she really knows her paella, which, I must say, is world-class! When Chef Carlo told us that their Beso paella is one of their bestsellers, the first thing that popped in my head was, “I wonder how this measures up to my boyfriend’s grandma’s paella?” Well, well, well! All I can say is, Grandma would be impressed! The shrimps are so juicy, delicious, and like I said earlier, big! It’s also loaded with pork, chorizo, bacon, squid, mussels, and clams, and served with soft rice. But what makes this paella a winner is its rich tomato sauce. Yum!
Squid Ink Paella
For 2-3: PHP 635
For 6-8: PHP 1,365
You want different? Then try the Squid Ink Paella. It’s not your usual tomato sauce-based paella. It has the ingredients you see in the usual paella dishes, like chorizo, bacon, squid, and prawns, but the twist is in the sauce. So it’s different, but is it good? You know that saying “black is beautiful?” Beso’s Squid Ink Paella confirms that. But black is not so beautiful on the teeth and lips, so if you’re going to eat this, make sure to check yourself in the mirror every now and then because this dish does leave a tar-like smut. I wouldn’t recommend eating this on a first date but on second thought, it’s also a good dish to eat if you want to see if your date actually has a good sense of humor! (Let’s see him or her save face after realizing that his/her teeth are covered in black stuff!)

Flat Bread

Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Onion Jam
(PHP 285) 
It’s like pizza but it’s really not. Chef Carlo explained that in the Cataluña region of Spain, flat bread “pizzas” were prepared out of necessity. He said that this dish was made mostly from leftovers, and mothers would chuck those leftovers in the oven along with the bread while they multi-task and take care of their children. They can just leave it there for a while as they do their chores and then later on, feed the flat bread to their kids. Interesting, just like Beso’s Flat Bread. If you’re expecting a lot of toppings just like those you see on pizza, though, you might find that Beso’s Flat Bread is lacking. But then again, as I mentioned, this is not really pizza. The toppings are good, but it’s really the crust that is the highlight of this dish, as it is made with soft dough. Not too many garnishes on this, but I do like the cheese and the caramelized onions that make it a little sweet.


Grilled Salmon Fillet with Zuccini Spaghetti, Sauteed Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Cauliflower with Pedro Ximenez Glaze
(Part of the Valentine’s Specials 2014 Set Meal)
This dish is 100% healthy! No description needed for this one. Just take a look at all the ingredients and you’ll know that it’s good for your body… and your appetite too!
Braised Beef Brisket with Pedro Ximenez Reduction, Pumpkin Puree, Escalivada and Confit of Cherry Tomato
(Part of the Valentine’s Specials 2014 Set Meal)
I’m very particular about beef. To me, it’s not enough that it tastes good, but the texture has to be fine as well. If the beef is too tough, eating it becomes less enjoyable. What I liked about Beso’s Beef Brisket is its smooth and tender texture. The brightly colored pumpkin puree was also delicious and was a nice contrast to the dark meat.
Lamb Shanks Braised in Tomato, Peppers, Chorizo and Chickpeas with Rice Pilaf
(PHP 695)
Some people have mixed feelings about lamb. Some people just don’t like it for some reason. But Chef Carlo says that those who used to be indisposed to eating lamb immediately had a change of heart after sampling Beso’s Lamb Shanks. No, Chef Carlo did not hypnotize them and force them to like lamb, but the Lamb Shanks really are divine. Paella may be Beso’s signature dish, but the lamb shanks are in a league of their own. It’s one of my favorite dishes of theirs. I’m not quite sure if it’s wine-bathed but I could taste some wine in it. I think this is a great date meal just because it has that ambrosial taste, it’s in the color of love (red), and it’s good for sharing.
Crispy Skin Pork Belly with Mojo Verde and Rice Pilaf
(PHP 435)
The name says it all: crispy, juicy, pork belly in all of its fatty goodness. The rice pilaf is also pretty flavorful. 


Crema Catalana
(PHP 195)
This is the Spanish term for the French dessert crème brûlée. This caramelized custard dessert is light but rich. I like crème brûlée because of its simplicity and creaminess, and Beso’s Crema Catalana did not let me down.
Chocolate Leche Flan with Pedro Jimenez Sherry
(PHP 295)
Leche flan, chocolate, and sherry – the mix of these three ingredients made the dessert look, smell, and sound so decadent… and it is! Made with 70% dark Belgian chocolate, this flan is just luscious. It’s a welcome change from the traditional leche flan that Filipinos are used to. 
Vanilla Semi Frio with Strawberry Almonds, Mint, and Chocolate Soil
(Part of the Valentine’s Specials 2014 Set Meal)
You have to consume this cool dessert as soon as it’s served because it melts easily. After all, the reason why it’s called “semi frio” is because it’s only semi-frozen. I sure had no problem with consuming it right away! How could I not? I liked the combination of the creamy vanilla semifrio (which is the mixture of ice cream and whipped cream) was creamy, the sweetness of the strawberries, the freshness of the mint leaves, and the fineness of the chocolate soil (which, by the way, I couldn’t stop chewing on). This delicious semi frio is only available for the month of February, but who knows? If it’s a hit — which I think it will be — Chef Carlo might just include it in the regular menu.
Dulce De Leche Natillas
(PHP 245)
In Spain, natillas is known as a kind of custard dish. Just one spoonful of the airy cream on top and the mild, sweet, and milky Tres Leches cake underneath is not enough. This is actually a variation of Chef Carlo Miguel’s great, great grandfather’s recipe. Great, great grandfather, wherever you are, thank you for this great, great dessert!
Here is the Valentine’s Day Specials menu:
And here is their regular menu:
Add caption
I have nothing but amor (love) for Beso! Me gusta mucho!
Beso Cucina Vinoteka:
Address: 7th Ave. cor. 29th Street, Bonifacio High Street Central, The Fort, Taguig
Phone Number: (63 2) 621-2554, (63 917) 8195831
Instagram: @beso_manila
Twitter: @besomanila
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