Spanish for all Sison(s)

Published November 15, 2021, 12:54 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

A beautiful mingling of great food, ambiance, privacy, and should I say great food again?

Deo Gracias

You mention the name Chef Heny Sison, and we’re thinking of once-in-a-lifetime wedding cakes and baked delights. We’ll think of her Heny Sison Culinary School, and how it started off in 1985 as her School of Cake Decorating and Baking. And many of us will remember her Sunday cooking show on television. So when we received her gift box of Spanish goodies and treats the other week, announcing the opening of Deo Gracias, it came as a nice surprise, as any food venture she’ll attach her name to, will always hold a lot of promise.

Deo Gracias opened its doors Nov. 8, 2021, and can be found at #12 11th Jamboree Street, between Timog and Kamuning. It’s a house that’s been converted into an indoor restaurant (El Comedor), an al fresco dining area (El Patio), a bar for cocktails (La Barra), and a deli filled with great Spanish goods (La Tienda). There’s even a second floor with private rooms for small parties. And there’s more than ample parking space at the back of the house. In short, it’s more than ideal to dine, to hold functions and meetings, and throw parties.

Alex del Hoyo Gomez

Alex del Hoyo Gomez, the executive chef at Deo Gracias introduced us to his brand of Spanish cuisine; and it’s a wonderful mix of the familiar with little tweaks, and some dishes that come as his signature dishes, and are truly worth discovering. With Heny Sison on board, one is assured of how much thought, care, and quality is put into the running of the establishment.

Salmorejo Asado con Jamón

When the teaser gift box arrived, the one that immediately caught my eye was the Salmorejo Asado con Jamón, cold roasted tomato soup with jamón Serrano, and poached quail eggs. I find that cold soup gets such a bad rap here in the Philippines, when it’s in fact an ideal choice, given our tropical climate. More than happy to see it’s on their regular menu, and I’d recommend this as a starter.

Pulpo a la Gallega ‘Deo Gracias’

Tartar de Atun

The other starters I got to try and absolutely loved were the Pulpo a la Gallega ‘Deo Gracias,’ which is sous vide steamed octopus, with potato and sobrasada cream, and a dash of pimentón oil. And I also devoured the Tartar de Atun, fresh tuna tartare, with guacamole ice cream, and crispy corn tortilla allumettes. The guacamole/avocado ice cream was such a novel twist to this dish. We’ve seen it in other modern Spanish restaurants, this offering of raw tuna; but the ice cream and shoestring corn chips were such great additions.

We ordered one salad, the Ensalada de Queso de Cabra y Nueces – arugula, fried goat cheese, with walnuts, quince, sun dried tomatoes and honey mustard dressing. You’ll adore the fried goat cheese and how they’re arrayed on the bed of greens like croquetas. This was accompanied by my order of Fideuà de Pollo, which are toasted short noodles with chicken, chorizo, artichokes, and thyme alioli. I loved how we got this instead of the traditional Paella. And my eye was definitely on the other Fideuá, as it’s with Mejillones Y Oricos, clams and uni (eel).

Salmón A la Donostiarra

Cochinillo Castellano

Other entrees I put on my hit list would be the Salmón A la Donostiarra, a pan-seared salmon, with Donostiarra sauce and piperrada. And of course, their Cochinillo Castellano, a roasted suckling pig with marinated potatoes and green salad, which you should order in advance.

Coulant de Nocilla

I was with Issa and her daughters, and that meant we’d definitely indulge in sweet endings for our lunch. This came in the form of their Coulant de Nocilla, a chocolate lava cake with hazelnut filling, served with Frangelico ice cream. So that’s a double dose of hazelnut, and molten chocolate. They also serve Churros and a mean Manchego Cheesecake.

Really have to congratulate Chefs Heny and Alex for the wonderful set-up at Deo Gracias. Even their little ‘tienda’ had the best of Spanish cheese and cold cuts, plus other goodies. Deo Gracias is a true winner, and I can safely predict it’ll be a favorite for all Sison(s), a beautiful mingling of great food, ambiance, privacy, and should I say great food again?