New Restaurant Alert: Sobremesa at The Sapphire Bloc, Pasig
South American cuisine meets Pinoy food
The Sapphire Bloc, Sapphire Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) Sobremesa can mean two things. In Portuguese, the term means “dessert”; in Spanish, it refers to the time friends spend exchanging stories after eating. Either definition appeals to the Filipino sensibility. We love anything sweet and most of our milestones are celebrated over food.
“That’s exactly what we want to be known for,” says Chef Benjo Tuason, head chef and co-owner of Sobremesa, a newly opened restaurant at The Sapphire Bloc. “Here, one can dine with family and friends as they would in a typical salo-salo.”
Welcome to the Sapphire Bloc.
Sobremesa’s South American-Filipino fusion dishes take inspiration from the chef's family recipes. The sweet and salty opus that is the Bulalo Estofado (P490), in particular, is a fresh take on his late mother’s own creation. “It’s [an act of] homage to my mother,” he says. “This whole project is dedicated to her.”
The bulalo is only among the highlights of the Sobremesa gastronomic experience, which the chef describes as a “carnival in your mouth.” Each dish is a sure-fire display of several flavors coming together.
Sobremesa starts off with fresh, light, and bright flavors. The Tanigue Ceviche (P290) is a delicate jumble of Spanish mackerel, bell peppers, greens, and three citrusy fruits: lime, lemon, and orange. A nice drizzle of raw honey pulls the tanginess back just a notch, but those flavors are still perfectly pronounced. The Calamari Salad (P280), meanwhile, is proof that you really ought to enjoy your greens. The dish is a vibrant play of zesty lettuce leaves topped calamari slices, fire-roasted peppers, and bits of salted egg. There's a bittersweet note that gives it sophistication.
Sweet Corn Fritters
The Sweet Corn Fritters (P110) are a welcome diversion from these sharp flavors. They make you stop and think. "Is it a dessert? Is it savory?" says Chef Benjo with a laugh. We’re not sure, either, but we're certain that these fried yummies will be a hit—with or without the spicy marinara sauce.
Barako Coffee Crusted Rib Eye
Sobremesa's range of main dishes are heavyweights in terms of spices. Aside from the bulalo, the Barako Coffee Crusted Rib Eye (P1,000) is a crowd favorite. Each bite is tender and smoky on the onset, and leaves a bitter, grainy aftertaste.The veggies on the side help tame the flavor. “[This was a product] of a failed kitchen experiment,” Chef Benjo shares. “I was cooking tapsi one day, thought it would be okay to add some coffee in there, but that [turned out to be] a disaster. There was potential though, so I tried coffee on steak instead.”
Peruvian Spiced Roast Chicken
For a lighter alternative, they have the Peruvian Spiced Roast Chicken (P350/half, P700/whole), served with three sauces to suit every fancy: jalapeño and coriander, red pepper sauce, and garlic yogurt sauce.
Chorizo and Green Pea Fried Rice
If you need to balance the pushy flavors, try Sobremesa’s Chorizo and Green Pea Fried Rice (P240), which is big enough to split with a friend or two.
Mango Coconut and Almond
Chef Benjo tones down his flavor profiles for dessert. They only have two cheesecakes at the moment: the Salted Caramel and Banana (P220) and the Mango Coconut and Almond (P220).The former is an adaptation of a banana cream pie with a salty end note, while the latter is a blunt choice for those into more cloying afters.
Then, when you’re ready for some cocktails—a chance to engage in, well, sobremesa—their newly launched cocktail line is worth a look. They serve ingenious takes on some all-time favorites: Blended Mojito, Sangria (red and white), and Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail).
Sobremesa wants to stand out in people's minds. We'll definitely remember this South American-Pinoy gem—and it's not because those strong flavors are hard to shake off. Of the many dining places across the Metro, there are a few that make you want to hang around a little longer. Sobremesa’s one of them.
Photos by Hans Fausto