Las Flores Opens At The Podium
It was a risk opening a Spanish restaurant in Manila. 300 years of Spanish colonial experience have made us very familiar, even blasé, with Spain’s cooking, after all. But when a trio of Spaniards opened Las Flores back in 2009, it was an instant hit. Their fresh and contemporary Spanish cuisine was both familiar and delightfully new, and Manila’s denizens couldn’t get enough of it.
Eight years later and we’re still in love with Las Flores’s Catalan-Mediterranean inspired menu, so much so that we’re happy to welcome the brand new branch that has opened at The Podium, Ortigas just this month.
With its whitewashed walls and dark timber flooring, the new Las Flores has the same warm and homey vibe of the original. And it serves the same exceptional menu, with an exceptional wine list and first-rate cocktails.
The launch reintroduced us to a few favorites, like the Salmon y Salmon, a cold tapas that combines marinated salmon with salmon caviar, finished off with ricotta cheese, truffle oil vinaigrette on air baguettes. The Brandade de Bacalao had tufts of codfish potato cream and roasted vegetables. There were more classic dishes, such as Croquetas Jamon Iberico, Gambas al Ajillo, and a Paella de Pollo, the latter with roasted chicken, slivers of pork and green beans. And, of course, a selection of cheese and charcuterie, including jamon Iberico, salchichon and chorizo Iberico.
Of course, the new branch prompted us to look back at its origins. Las Flores is owned by partners Sergi Rostoll, Dani Aliaga and Uri Singla, the men behind the La Lola Group of Restaurants. It’s their second restaurant (their first venture, Barcino, serves more conventional Spanish fare with a good wine list at affordable price points), but it represents a marked transformation in the way Spanish cuisine is perceived in this city. Frankly, they served exceptionally good Spanish tapas and they did it with style. And suddenly, Spanish cuisine was hip again.
The trio soon opened a batch of restaurants, one after the other. Rambla, which opened in 2014, boasted a modern Spanish menu that pushed the envelope through such dishes as liquid omelets and reconstructed olives. La Lola Churreria, which made ordinary churros into an urban sensation, had even celebrities were willing to line up for hours. It now has over 20 branches all over Manila. And then there was Rico Rico, a casual paelleria, and Tomatito, a fun tapas bar that drew the city’s über cool partygoers.
But there’s something about delightful about Las Flores that makes it an easy favorite. Perhaps it’s because they took Catalan home cooking and served it in a way that felt fresh and new, without sacrificing the basic elements that make Spanish cooking so good: a respect for the flavors of fresh, quality ingredients, essential cooking techniques and created with passion. All these elements combine into one very enjoyable, congenial dining experience. Go find your way into Las Flores. Choose a table, order a few dishes. Perhaps you’d like to start with a pulpo al gallego, perhaps something different like a zucchini carpaccio. Choose a wine or have a cocktail. And just like that, your meal will unfold with such pleasurable charm that you will find quite irresistible. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.