If you go to Uptown Mall, you’d easily spot this restaurant near the fountain area. Believe it’s relatively new, and actually, the “by XO46” attached to its name is reassuring. We’ve been to XO46 Heritage Bistro, which turned out to be a good experience.
As soon as you’re inside, you’d know it ain’t a cheap place. Tables with place settings, an actual flower for a centerpiece, dim interiors and interesting light pieces. (Forgive the photos as my iPhone cannot do justice in dimly lit places.)
There’s a splashy mural that’s sure to get your attention. There’s black, there’s red, you see a bull, and a splash of loud color somewhere. It’s good. I’m starting to feel Spain. (Never actually been to Spain though.)
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a disconnect between the vibe and the food + price range of the place. It’s not like, say, in XO46 that if you pass by it, you’d know the price range and be prepared for it.
Is it the loud yellow-and-red super casual sign outside? Maybe. After all, that’s what a lot of fast food chains use. Is it with calling the place “tapas & grill?” I can’t tell.
It’s dinnertime so we didn’t want to eat much. A got us a bottle of red wine (Cab Sauv + Syrah + Tempranillo), and tapas.
Their tapas were categorized into classics and modern ones. They also had lunch and dinner sets but we weren’t into getting filled up with rice that night. We decided to get one modern, one classic, and one grilled tapas.
Aside from a small portion of complementary peanuts, we were also served complementary bread. I didn’t know the dip was chimichurri verde, so I was pleasantly surprised on my first bite. I thought it’s like an Italian vinegar + oil bread combo. We liked this a lot, and since we didn’t have rice, we ordered more (P150) when we finished the complementary serving.
We were quite surprised to see this Truffled Egg, Potato & Ham in a glass. Also that it’s more like a soup–in my head I’d never think tapas can mean a soup-y dish. It’s frothy like a cappuccino; it’s so weird for me and I can’t wrap my head around it. Didn’t take more than two spoonfuls.
Also it doesn’t pair with the wine. Had we known, we prolly won’t get that. I was kind of expecting a small plate with a hardboiled egg or two cut in half, decorated with ham and potates, however they wanted it to be.
I can’t say it’s bad; I just wasn’t ready for it. It’s like when you order a pie–expecting a dessert, or a cake–but what comes to your table is a thin crust pizza. You’d be like, “Huh. Pie.” You were ready to for something sweet, caramelized, icing…but you get tomato sauce and melted cheese. Huh. Pie.
From the Classic Tapas, we got the Gambas Al Pilpil, which I thought would be basically just like every other plate of gambas. It was. As you would know, gambas is shrimp in oil, garlic, and herbs. Love that we were just having bread so we dipped our bread and enjoyed the garlic-infused oil. It’s good, but it’s not way better than cheaper ones elsewhere, me thinks. (It was P490.)
Last to arrive was our order of Grilled Pork Belly in Black Pepper Sauce. (If you order this from the lunch/dinner menu, you get side dish/es and only two skewers.) I like this one. We had three long skewers of meat for less than what the small plate of gambas costs.
I was taken away by the flavor. I tried to ask what was in the sauce but the staff won’t tell me anything except peppercorns. (Trade secret!) It was absolutely tender, and the sauce was anything but the usual barbecue grill sauce. The first word that came to mind was earthy. There’s a pleasing depth in flavor that could be similar to having liver sauce added to it.
We tried to order cheese, but they only had the Tabla de Jamon y Queso, but we didn’t want the ham because we already have grilled pork. The server said they don’t serve a cheese-only plate.
Oye Tapas & Grill offers food of quality. It is on the pricey side (we paid close to P3,000 for the above food and wine) so I understand why there aren’t more people coming in. If you visit, my tip would be to order items that are good value for money, like the grilled pork belly, and skip those that cost much for a little plate. My husband is always interested in paella, so let’s see if we get to go again.
* We paid for our food and dined as regular customers. You can read full disclaimer / disclosures here.