The playful Bolero

Bolero is not your typical Spanish eatery


The self-styled "Three Musketeers" behind the new BGC eatery, Bolero at Verve Tower 2, are Chef Fernando Alcalá, Felipe Diaz de Miranda, and Luis de Isasa Muñoz. 

While one might trace their origins back to Spain, they would be the first to clarify that Bolero is not a Spanish restaurant. We engaged in a spirited conversation about this and reached a consensus: it's not your typical Spanish restaurant. 

Bolero doesn’t serve the typical commercial, tourist-in-Spain cuisine; instead, it offers what Madrileños would enjoy when seeking fine dining in their own city. 

Happily, I can even report there’s no paella on their menu.

Fernando Alcalà, Felipe de Miranda, and Luis Muñoz

Chef Fernando Alcalá is the chef and owner of Kava Marbella, and was named Chef Revelación at Madrid Fusion 2019, and his cheesecake (which we can order in Bolero) was voted best in Spain in 2019. Thanks to his relentless traveling, he’s carved a reputation for cuisine that’s fresh, modern, very personal and playful, with a smattering of deft Asian touches. It’s thanks to the persuasive powers of Felipe and Luis that we can point to Bolero, and say that a Fernando Alcalá restaurant now exists in Metro Manila.

Fernando and Felipe explained that it’s all about bringing Spanish fine dining, sustainable cuisine, and attractive price points together. Aside from the beef, pork, and duck, Chef Fernando sources everything locally. They work in harmony to create that fun neighborhood restaurant.

We "play" with the idea that Bolero is attempting to democratize degustation. We enjoy how ordering various items on the menu and sharing them creates an effective simulation of this degustation experience, but in a fun way. By keeping it fun and playful, the food isn’t the be-all and end-all of the dining experience; it's simply there to be enjoyed, along with the drinks and company.

This playfulness is similarly evident in the way Chef Fernando creates his dishes. As he says, he’s the first to get bored with them, so expect a constant shuffle of dishes and new entries. He wants each visit to Bolero to feel like an adventure, with each dish, and even each bite, telling a new, different story. For Fernando, this is his ongoing culinary quest: not allowing complacency to settle in.

The Ricotta and Green Onion Waffles

The first dish placed on our table, the Ricotta Green Onion Waffle, is a wonderful example of this philosophy. It features creamy ricotta with lemon and mint, practically smeared on a plate, and one tears off a section of the scallion waffles to dab on the plate. If you think about it, it combines French and Chinese influences, but in the hands of this playful Spanish chef, it becomes a singular creation that I'm sure everyone will enjoy!

Beef Empanadas

The Beef Empanada are big-sized, homemade, smoked ribeye empanada. And I loved how Fernando commented on how he hates it when he gets empanadas that are either all pastry and crust, and short on the filling. Here at Bolero, they take pains to achieve the right balance, and add a sauce that brings this dish to the very top. 

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Skipjack Tuna; and The Sweet and Sour Tomatoes

The Creamy Sweet and Sour Tomatoes consist of sweet tomatoes, cucumber, and sweet and sour foam, all brought together to create a medley of textures, flavors, and surprises. The Skipjack Tuna, Ajoblanco, and Grapes features partly grilled skipjack with chilled almond cream and grapes. And trust me, you'll want to order this one and really play with the ajoblanco, as it gives the tuna a new flavor and taste dimension.

Duck Breast

Among the mains, I’d recommend the Duck, Meatballs, Satay Jus for the simple fact that it reminded me of kare-kare. It’s grilled duck breast, shrimp and pork meatballs, and satay jus, with the peanut in the jus working overtime to give the dish a kare-kare kick. Here’s playfulness taken to the extreme, as Chef Fernando has transformed the traditional European duck breast dish into an Asian “love child.” It's incredibly unique, and I enjoyed how this duck was reinvented.


His Mahi-Mahi, grilled with orange and grape salad, and calamansi beurre blanc sauce, is another tribute to imagination. He has taken the usual citrus sauce for the staid Mahi-Mahi and, using the language we use to describe jazz music, improvised and jammed with other fruits and elements, turning the fish into a cool, colorful dish.

I didn’t include a photo of the award-winning Best in Spain cheesecake; just anticipate the blue cheese flavor and runny texture, as it's like eating foam!

I’ll admit that the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about Bolero, was that this was the last thing Metro Manila needed, still another Spanish restaurant. But I’ve since changed my tune, Bolero is not your typical Spanish eatery. It’s Modern European, and it just so happens that the people behind the project do come from Spain. It’s fresh, exciting food, and it’s made a liar (bolero) out of me, for thinking we didn’t need this new dining place.