When I went to Europe last year my favorite place for food was the coastal city of San Sebastián or Donostia in Spain. From Michelin 3 star Akelaŕe to pintxos bar hopping I just loved all the unique dishes that tasted familiar yet surprising.
When I found out about a new restaurant at The Fort called Donosti I immediately invited my friends to have lunch there. The restaurant was located at NAC Building which was right across an empty lot beside MC Home Depot and Starbucks.
The decor of the restaurant was very nice. It felt classy yet you feel comfortable there.
My friends and I were quite hungry because it was around 1:30 pm when we ordered the food. Our first question to the waitress was, “Do you have paella?” The negative response reverberated around our table. We had to order the heartiest pintxos or tapas to fill our hollow bellies.
I already had inkling that the small plates of food would be expensive just like other tapas restaurants in Manila. What I didn’t expect was to find 6 little pieces of shrimp spread evenly across the small dish hoping to make it look full. At P375 an order each shrimp comes out to P68.75 inc. service charge. We asked for bread to dip in the EVOO but was told we had to pay for it. The waitress later came back and gave us 4 slices for free. In fairness the shrimp was fresh and I really liked the spicy and garlicky olive oil which I liberally dipped my extremely toasted bread into.
My friends commented that the bread was a bit stale but I was too hungry to notice. Anyway, dipping the bread in oil softened it.
The croquetas was very smooth and creamy but I hardly tasted the Jamon Iberico. One for each of us.
French fries topped with chorizo and fried egg was one of my favorite dishes at Tapas 24 in Barcelona. Donosti’s version had less fries and more chorizo which was a good thing but I wish the fries weren’t so oily and soggy. They also could have made more effort with the fried egg’s presentation too. My friend had to flip the yolk over and rearrange the egg white to make the picture look nicer. It originally looked like a blob of white on top of the chorizo. Some find the chorizo too salty but I ate it with toasted bread so I didn’t mind.
The tortilla was the only thing substantial in size. The potato, egg and chorizo omelette was the size of a small fry pan. It was also the wettest tortilla I’ve ever eaten. It did a good job of silencing the sounds of our tummies.
I wanted to order the lamb but at a cost of P7,350 for the sharing portion I think my friends would skewer me if I did. The lamb chops cost 1,750 and it was just good enough for one hungry person or two to share.
We ordered the callos (tripe) instead. This dish had different reactions from “my cook makes it better” to “I like restaurant C’s version more” to one “it’s not bad, I like it.” With two small orders of callos there was leftover. I can’t comment since I don’t eat tripe.
We just needed more bread so we ordered more. I was surprised they subtracted the P80 fee in our bill.
My friend insisted she needed rice for the callos so she asked the waitress, “How big is your rice?” The reply was, “Ma’am it’s regular size.” You can just imagine our reaction when this teeny weeny cup of rice came out. The waitress quickly came to our table and asked if we wanted to order more rice. We declined.
Desperate for a meat dish that would hopefully be filling we ordered albondigas or Spanish meatballs in onion spagnole sauce. It tasted just like round mini burgers so I was a little happy. The rice with sauce wasn’t too shabby either. Not bad but nothing special. I was the only one who liked this dish. The others found it too ordinary.
You might say I didn’t order the restaurant’s specialties so I can judge the restaurant based on those. But I just can’t find the will to order a piece of homemade sausage that costs P650 (Butifarra) or 8 slivers of vinegar marinated anchovies (Boquerones) even though that was my favorite dish in Spain. I saw pictures and comments of said dishes on Instagram and Facebook.
I don’t mind paying a lot of money for food. Pricey food doesn’t have to be generous to worth it but it does have to be unique, unusual and special. The food in Donosti wasn’t bad at all (contrary to my friends’ vehement objection) but in my opinion for the price it just wasn’t worth it.
Pintxos or tapas is bar food in Spain. People drink and eat tapas while standing up. I guess you shouldn’t go to Donosti when you’re super hungry. Instead go for drinks and have an assortment of pintxos or tapas.
They gave us 15% discount since the restaurant was still in its soft opening stage. We didn’t order any drinks or dessert and it cost about P770 per head. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you will know we went to another restaurant for more food and dessert. Personally I was already full but my friends weren’t.
Be sure to check out their big, beautiful ladies room.
The drinks page was blurry so I didn’t post it.