Monday, February 3, 2020

New at Newport Mall: Comforting Flavors Recreated at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant

A dish becomes even more special when it triggers fond and nostalgic memories. At Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant, dining becomes a culinary journey back to comforting flavors... 

Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant, now open at Newport Mall's Garden Wing, brings hearty and traditional Filipino, Spanish and Mediterranean flavors updated with a contemporary spin. Heintjie Carmona shares his family's favorite dishes, and his personal art collection, at the newest dining destination in Resorts World Manila. Our group, FourScene, gets a sneak peek at the newest restaurant in Newport Mall (for more on FourScene, visit our FB Page at Recharge and take a break from the shopping and gaming tables at Resorts World Manila with a sumptuous meal of comforting flavors, reinvented with a modern yet nostalgic flair at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant...

Located at the Second Floor of Newport Mall's Garden Wing, Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant recently opened last month and is soon becoming Resorts World Manila's newest dining destination. Inside the new restaurant, the bright and festive color palette and art pieces contrast with concrete walls for an eclectic and modern vibe.

The well-stocked bar greets diners at the entrance, while bright colored chairs draw your eyes to the elegantly curved space surrounded by glass walls. Art pieces from Heintjie Carmona's personal collection adorn the concrete walls, changed regularly every quarter for a refreshing new canvas. 

More than just another restaurant, Rafael's is like a gallery showcasing local art. Art and food come together for a visual feast, combining the passions of the owner. The space and the food at Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant reflects Heintjie Carmona's personal journey. Named after his late father, Heintjie Carmona recalls childhood memories with the dishes his father prepared and enjoyed. Heintjie's new restaurant is an homage to his father's love for food, recreating family favorites and presented in a creatively new way by Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant's Chef Jinggoy Fernando.

A stairway with ornately painted steps leads you up to Rafael's Taps Bar & Restaurant's private and exclusive dining area...

...set up for intimate meals and gatherings. A large screen TV hooked up with Resorts World Manila's newly constructed cockpit arena will keep guests connected with the action in total comfort. You can also find shelves for the bottle keep of loyal customers at the second floor of Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant. And a golden bathroom. You just have to see it for yourself. Created for the casino's high rollers, you can book the private dining room for your own get-together.

Like the elegantly designed space, the dishes at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant exude a graceful finesse consistent with the personality of Heintjie Carmona and the creative style of Chef Jinggoy Fernando. The innovative blend of flavors makes familiar dishes refreshingly new and different, with so many tasty surprises on the menu. 

Start your dining experience at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant with The Social Beginning (P 480), a Mediterranean-inspired starter with Ricotta Hummus and Greek Cheese served with crisp fried pita. The Ricotta and Greek cheese add indulgent layers of richness to the nutty hummus pairing well with the crisp pita. Your dining experience at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant is off to a great start...

The freshest ingredients come into play in the next course showcasing both vibrant flavors and colors...

The Andalusian Remojon (P 670) is a refreshing salad course with salmon gravlax, marinated roasted beets, Mandarin oranges, tri-olive pesto, pickled red onions, mint, mesclun greens and kale dressed with a tart malt vinaigrette. The buttery richness of the salmon is tempered by Mandarin oranges, pickled red onions and mint rounded out perfectly by the malt vinaigrette. The garden fresh and crisp kale adds a mildly spicy sweetness to the salad finished by the sharpness of the olive pesto. The wide range of vibrant notes opens the palate for the next savory courses. Another fine salad option is the Blunt Bill's Easter Game (P 580) with apples, marinated grapes, roasted garlic, asparagus, mesclun greens, red onions, toasted pine feta, nuts and poached egg drizzled with peppered sherry citrus vinaigrette. 

Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's version of gambas is then served, the Miss Gump in Hot Flashes (P 720) with flambeed Al Ajillo Gambas drizzled with black garlic, chardonnay, roasted chili and grilled lemon. The plate becomes a canvas with the briny sweetness of shrimps complemented by vivid brush strokes of roasted chili and smoky pepper sauce punctuated by pickled red onions.

Chef Jinggoy Fernando then pulls out one of his tasty surprises...

The Duck Sisig (P 680) with spicy duck breast, garlic, quail egg and aioli is an inventive twist to the pork classic with the savory flavors of duck and the indulgent notes of creamy aioli and quail egg combining for a lavish richness balanced by the soothing heat of the chili. Each bite releases intense flavors lingering long after the last bite. It's a leveled up version of sisig, with the same unctuous mouthfeel yet with much deeper flavors. And the quail egg is a cool touch. Simply pour the soft boiled quail egg on the hot Duck Sisig and mix before taking a bite. Great on its own with an ice cold beer, it will also work well with rice. This is one of those dishes that will keep Rafael's top-of-mind on your list of favorites at Resorts World Manila.  

The Pig's Jealousy (P 1,550) is Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's own spin on beef salpicao with seared spiced Angus Prime Ribeye draped in truffle au jus, black garlic butter, fried oysters and mushrooms. The fork-tender Angus Prime Ribeye delivers a burst of flavor followed by the nutty hints of truffle au jus and black garlic butter. The fried oysters add textural contrast and flavor to the dish. There's a refined elegance in the way the various flavors weave in a seamless blend at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant. And it gets better...

The wittingly named Entourage (P 480) is a dish of sauteed baby squid in Harissa compound butter, kale and quinoa combining the succulent briny sweetness of tender baby squid with the bold flavors of harissa spices finished in silky smooth butter. Not one ingredient overpowers the other, each one coming together in a delicately balanced finish. It's the masterful play on bold and subtle notes that makes each dish come alive at Rafael's.  

Other tasty tapas include the Tiering Bravas (P 525), a delicately crisp layered version of patatas bravas with roasted garlic aioli; The Social Ending (P 520), a kale roasted baba ganoush with toasted focaccia and Greek cheese; Acidulated Pulpo Kinilaw (P 670), a marinated grilled baby octopus dish with pepper ginger slaw, fresh watermelon and sea salt; the Sunburn Bless (P 850) with deep-fried saffron beer battered seafood and the Chicken That Crossed The Road (P 380), an amusingly named dish with crisp chicken chicharon, chili malt vinegar, pickled carrot and radish puree.  

Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's Lunch & Recovery Menu offers comforting local and Asian flavors that's perfect for diners after a long night at the casino's gaming tables. The selection includes Asian classics like the Nasi Lemak (P 580) with lemongrass spiced chicken, crisp dried espada and nasi goreng topped with a sunny side up...

...and the Ribeye Tapa (P 1,550), an elevated version of a local staple with premium roasted prime ribeye slathered in honey spiced tapa sauce on omu corn bell pepper rice. The prime ribeye may be the star of the dish, but the omu corn bell pepper rice makes this dish special. The large grains or kernels are soft and fluffy, completing the dish with its subtle sweetness and soft texture. The use of local corn rice not only adds delicate notes, it's good for you too. 

Other tasty options from the Lunch & Recovery Menu include the Preparatory Omelet (P 480) made with three eggs, carrot potato rosti, Fontina cheese and truffle essence; the Pinoy Longganisa Bibimbap (P 490) and Beef Pares (P 850) with braised Wagyu brisket, house made egg noodles and poached egg. You can also opt for Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's Eggs Benedict in two variants, choose from Gravlax (P 580) or Mushroom (P 480).

Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's savory mains include the Slow Matador's Bull (P 1,280), a Wagyu Brisket caldereta with blackened roasted brisket sliced thin like bacon plated with swirls of carrot and garlic potato puree and garnished with fried olives. The traditional caldereta is broken down, transformed and reinvented with thin strips of brisket that melts in your mouth instead of the usual beef chunks. Each tender slice of Wagyu brisket brings that burst of beefy notes to the palate balanced by the fried olives. 

If steaks are your thing, Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's got that covered too. The Blackened Angus Ribeye (P 2,900) features a tender and juicy slab of prime ribeye with corn, zucchini and succotash with a side of chimichurri sauce. Perfectly grilled to medium with a juicy pink center, the richly seasoned slab of ribeye is great on its own with no sauce needed as the medley of vegetables complete the dish. A good steak doesn't need to be complicated.

The Chicken Hitchhiker (P 850) is Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant's lavish take on chicken inasal with brown sugar brined roast chicken, caramelized pineapple and pineapple rice plated with a thick, sweet and smoky pepper sauce. The tender plump chicken just falls off the bone, glazed with rich and nutty annatto oil. Prepped in a sous vide and finished on the grill for smoky hints, it's yet another classic Filipino dish elevated with modern culinary techniques and fresh ingredients. And one of many tasty surprises at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant.

Seafood lovers will enjoy one more dish at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant, and one of my personal favorites...

The First Love (P 1,150) is a flavorful spicy crab risotto with crisp and succulent soft shell crab, chorizo and chicken thigh on soft, fluffy and moist rice. The fresh, clean and mildly sweet notes of the lightly fried crab and its crisp and juicy texture is made even richer by the chorizo and red peppers. It's hard not to fall in love with this dish. Or any dish at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant.    

Other tasty mains on the menu include Wrestling with The Bacon (P 1,100), a Szechuan peppered pork belly dish with honey au jus adobo brulee crust, Roasted Mustard Salmon (P 1,250), Duck Spa (P 1,100) with seared duck breast and roasted peppered orange garlic sauce and Mahi-Mahiin Coconut Cream (P 950) with soft, melt-in-your-mouth mahi-mahi in thick coconut cream.

For dessert, the Maja Blanca at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant caps your feast with familiar flavors. The pillow soft and silky smooth delicacy is given texture with sweet corn kernels and a side of crunchy popcorn. Other must-try desserts include the Papaya Kakanin (P 380), a warm papaya citrus rice pudding with dragonfruit and apple syrup and The Big Bang Theory (P 390) with assorted nuts and dark chocolate. From starters to mains and desserts, Rafael's leaves a lasting impression.

And with the day of hearts coming up, Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant will also be offering Special Menu Sets for Two which includes assorted pintxos so give them a call and book your table.

Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant takes the familiar and transforms it infusing their own creative culinary spin and lavish style for a unique and memorable dining experience. For Heintjie Carmona and Chef Jinggoy Fernando, food is art on a plate. And they can't wait to serve a uniquely sensory experience with hints of nostalgic flavors updated for the contemporary palate at Rafael's Tapas Bar & open at Newport Mall's Garden Wing in Resorts World Manila.  

Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant is located at Unit B2A, Garden Wing, 2nd Floor, Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City or call 0977 033 7828, 0978 502 3466 and 0918 920 6128 for inquiries and reservations.

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