I still have a long backlog of posts from a trip to Boracay to my recent trip to Europe but I’m writing about my recent dinner at Cova first. Rochelle and I as well as several US based cousins just came back from Spain where we had a wonderful time eating all kinds of tapas specially in San Sebastian and Barcelona. When we came back home we still had a tapas hangover and was missing it badly.
We wanted to treat a HS classmate who came home from the USA and I suggested Cova to relive our tapas memories. This was actually my first time to eat tapas (small plates of savory dishes) in Manila.
The place was very small but the unique ceiling made it look so much more interesting. Rochelle said it felt like she was inside the mouth of a whale. Such imagination!
Some of the names of the tapas or pintxos are spelled in the Catalan language and not in Spanish that’s why some items on the menu seem unfamiliar. Catalan is spoken in Barcelona.
Cova menu (click to enlarge)
The sangria was super sweet and quite good. I just commented to our server that there was so little fruits in our carafe and he offered to add more but I declined. Nevertheless I could taste the infusion of fruits in the red wine.
Cova red sangria – 1 liter P895
Most of us liked the citrusy white wine sangria more.
summer peachy white wine sangria – 1 liter P895
Let me get the following opinions or observations out before I go in detail of each dish.
- Overall the tapas were excellent. Some dishes tasted even better than in Spain.
- The serving size even the racion which was good for 3-4 was tiny in relevance to the price. But then tapas are really supposed to be small dishes which are meant to be shared.
- Some of the must try dishes indicated in their menu I wish we skipped.
- I guess the tapas were really meant for appetizers and not dinner for 6 hungry women with big appetites that’s why our bill was astronomical? For 6 of us our bill came to P7,410 or $177 or 145€.
- Even with the shock of the bill I really enjoyed our meal and would definitely go back. Now I know what to order and that will definitely keep the final bill much lower.
So here’s my guide on what to order in Cova. We ordered all racion portions which was for 3-4 while the tapa portion was for 1-2 people.
In Spain boquerones or marinated fresh anchovies were my favorite and these brought back so much memories. I loved the flavor of the sherry vinegar on the firm yet tender fresh fish. The addition of avocado was something different.
It’s strange but I don’t remember seeing lengua in the tapas bars we went to in Spain but I’m glad Cova has this Filipino favorite. Their version was delicious with a creamy mushroom sauce. The ox tongue was super tender and soaked up all the yummy sauce.
lengua con setas P480
One of the dishes that literally blew me away was the salpicao made with wagyu veal cheeks, paprika, garlic and olive oil. Eaten with toasted bread a small spoonful was enough to savor the complex flavors of this dish which seemed to have been cooked for hours. Even though this order couldn’t have been more than 1/2 cup it was worth it. We asked for more bread to soak up the sauce.
salpicao de mejillas de ternera P480
I saw a TV feature on Cova before I left for Spain and they featured this dish among others. When I went to Spain I actively looked for this item in the menu. It wasn’t until my last meal in Barcelona that I saw something similar but regular french fries was used instead. It was good but not as fabulous as Cova’s creation.
We all unanimously voted the shoestring potatoes topped with chorizo bits, aioli and a fried egg as our favorite dish. We weren’t even halfway through this mountain of crispy potatoes and we wanted to order another one. It was the generous aioli that gave this dish an extra flavor kick that was out of this world. You MUST order this!!!!
huevos cabreados P299
The black paella was really shallow maybe just 1/4″ high of rice so you would think it’s expensive at P900 but it’s the 3 large prawns and fried soft shell crab that pushed the cost up. Anyway it was worth it. The paella was very flavorful and the rice was just a tad too soft for my taste. The drizzle of aioli was once again just delicious with the rice. This is definitely one of the best paellas I’ve eaten in Manila.
paella negra P900
OPTIONAL TO ORDER
The next two dishes are actually marked as “must try” on their menu. But for me it’s optional if you’re feeling adventurous.
Espuma bacalao is foam made with salt cod or bacalao and it has pieces of bacalao, potato and olives underneath the foam. It’s actually an interesting dish with a nicely flavored foam and hearty pieces of fish. But for the price of P380 for a small glass there’s not much to go around. Rochelle ordered 3 glasses that’s another reason for our expensive bill.
espuma bacalao P380
Since none of us were fans of raw beef this was hardly touched. But if you like steak tartare then you should try this.
tartar de toro P320
Another “must try” in the menu so we tried it. Soak Iberico ham in milk and remove said ham after a number of hours. That’s what this was – super expensive ham milk. I’d rather eat Iberico ham and not just it’s essence. The veal sweetbread cookies didn’t make an impression either.
cappuccino de jamon Iberico P299
This ravioli made with ox tail, foie gras, shitake mushroom and ox tail jus wasn’t really that bad but for four bite sized pieces P480 was a bit too much. Yes, I know there’s foie gras inside but I didn’t really taste it. I think it melted inside since we all found this ravioli too greasy. Too bad I liked the texture and flavor of the ox tail.
ravioli de rabo de toro P480
For dessert I ordered the creme Catalan but another table got the last few orders so we were left with the xurros or churros con chocolate. The four pieces of fried dough fritters were finger sized and sorry to say tasted very doughy and uncooked on the inside. It was so disappointing for me. I did love the thick chili spiked chocolate paste which I ate on it’s own.
xurros con xoco P220
Despite some misses I still highly recommend everyone try the tapas at Cova. It’s as near as you can get to authentic tapas from Spain. I must say some dishes were done even better and tweaked to the more discriminate Filipino taste buds.
Cova tapas y sangria
22 Jupiter Street, Barangay Bel-air,
Makati City, Philippines