Chef Dino Guingona

Miguel’s Sojourin

An esteemed client of mine, coincidentally the namesake of my best friend Carlo Calma Lorenzana, invited me along with Aila Joson…my Administrative Manager at the Career Purveyors, to check out the finishing touches of his brand new project situated in the heart of Makati City. I’d been staffing Carlo for the greater part of the last four years. I know him well. How we have become good friends from a mere client-supplier relationship is a whole different story.

My platonic love for this fellow simply cannot disguise my admiration for his demeanor, professionalism and more importantly, his foresight.

CARLO CALMA LORENZANA: THE man from Davao. Heavy duty entrepreneur & a real gentleman!

Neatly embedded on the ground floor of a high rise building along San Agustin st., in Salcedo Village, Makati City Bar Pintxos – Tapas y Mas may not be very easy to find. Apparently, this may have been done intentionally. The original outlet in the Alabang area had that signature. Hide and go seek.

Miguel Vecin with yours truly, visiting the third (SOON TO OPEN) outlet in Salcedo Village, Makati

Pretty hard to locate, but worth searching for!
It’s small, yet beautifully colorful inside.
The high ceiling is hardly noticeable as the walls are embellished with hand painted Basque inspired murals.

Hand painted mural as playful as the food of Bar Pintxos -Tapas y Mas

Playful and a real feast for the eyes.
You need to be freaking blind as a nocturnal animal in broad daylight to miss the art work!
It just really jumps at you.

Still boarded up…construction workers on break

The place was hot as purgatory.
It was dusty, and stinky as vile stench could ever be.
The fresh paint and varnish reeked all over the place. It entered my nosetrils, and went straight out of my ears! (figuratively of course) I mean…really, that bad!

……getting there

Aila and I were dying to get the hell out of there!

As soon as Carlo arrived, he and I exchanged a few pleasantries. Shortly after, my driver, Cornelio, drove us to the second outlet, also his first joint venture with erstwhile client, friend and partner, Bobby Tenchavez with the original Bar Pintxos – Tapas y Mas group.

A client for many years. Bob partnered with Carlo to bring in great Argentinian, Spanish & Italian wines. Together they formed what is known as “Boca Juan Filipinas, Inc”. On top of this, I’ve lost track of how many restaurants he owns and manages. This fellow is downright simple. Never ostentatious! What is there not to like about this guy? How would I describe him personally? Hmmmmm….that’s a tough one. Lemme just say that Bob is a COOL DUDE IN A LOOSE MOOD!

Carlo & Bob in an event they put together a while back

There, I was treated to some superb pintxos. I really preferred to wash them down with a robust glass of Rioja, but owing to the heat, Miguel, Carlo & Bar Pintxos – Tapas y Mas GM Mr. Randy Libre offered me ice-cold Pilsner Urquell instead.

You just can’t go wrong with ice cold cerveza to wash down all the pintxos on a hot, humid afternoon!

The second outlet located in a strikingly similar obscure location at The Fort, BGC CATAPULTED THE BRAND INTO THE LOCAL CULINARY ALL-STAR LEAGUE!

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Bar Pintxos Tapas y Mas @ the Fort, BGC

Much of this success could be easily attributed to the members of the new core team.

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All-star team, all smiles…with good reason. Hijos y hija. The lone woman in the team: MAGSY CONCEPCION, apparently a culinary whiz herself and pretty instrumental in bringing the BGC outlet to superstardom!

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I’ll tell you this: The ‘power of the pen’ is mighty.

But “the word of mouth” kicks the pen straight on the nib, knocking the hell out of it, till it breaks it into bits and pieces….coil, ink sac and all! Therefore, there is nothing quite as convincing as a testimony.

It gathers steam and collectively passes on that heat to others faster than anything man has ever written!

This may well be the secret formula. That hide and go seek game is played, over and over till the obscurity of the location no longer matters.

If you want it, you’ll find it!

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Batman & Robin a.k.a. Miguel Vecin & Tinchu Gonzalez: The brains behind Bar Pintxos – Tapas y Mas

Miguel Vecin grew up in Barcelona, Spain where he went to school from his elementary days all the way to College.

Having grown up there, he loved the country style cuisine from the Basque region close to the border of France. Rustic, simple, fresh and flavorful.

This defined his style.

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His foray into the glamorous world of upscale casual bar and dining scene started back in 2004 when he decided to bring in authentic Spanish spices.

Shortly after, he started to produce authentic Spanish sausages. That was the beginning of greater things to come.

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The goooooood stuff!

My appetite whetted as Miguel began to describe his menu in the smallest details.

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Salmon honey goat cheese with tobiko roe & Stuffed pepper brie with jamon serrano. Ohhh, did I say Nirvana?

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Randy Libre: Designation, GM. Long time buddy of Tinchu & Miguel, dating back to their spice and importation days. Highly trusted, runs a tight ship. Excellent management style from the back end.

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Fall-off-the-bone Beef Short Ribs with Romanescu & Chimichurri. Insanely good!

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Tinchu Gonzalez the guy up front. Talk to him….he’ll never steer you wrong! The operator, PR machine and the hands-on money man

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Cousin of Ms. Anchovy & Mr. Sardine. FRESH HERRING! Not the canned crap. Blanched, refreshed in cold water, tossed in EVOO, lightly salted and topped with crunchy garlic and scallions! Magnifico!

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Ternera – Wagyu Tenderloin pintxos! That’s one heck of a bite right there….but hold on, you’ve gotta savor every single bite! The juices are going to coat your palate as the beef gently melts away

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House made chorizo frito with freshly baked bread……pour that Rioja, dammit!

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Skewered boquerones, pickled chili & green olives

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Crispy jamon, bed of fresh sea urchin sitting on crusty fresh baked baguette! Close your eyes, taste the damn thing. If this doesn’t blow your socks off, NOTHING WILL!

I cannot, in conscience speak highly, moreover, strongly endorse a product that falls short of excellent. Everything I had that day was immeasurably good to the last bite.

That’s a fact.

There are three Spanish things, that we here in Manila are fortunate enough to have with us.

They are as follows: 1) A nicely aged Manchego semi-curado, 2) a big, earthy bottle of Rioja at room temp. and 3) BAR PINTXOS – y MAS!

Bar Pintxos – Tapas y Mas #3 San Agustin st., Salcedo Village, Makati.

It hasn’t opened yet, but it’s already caught flames!

Can’t wait for #4!

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Those crispy berejena (eggplant) almost resembled sweet bacon!

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Sea urchin Tobiko lumpfish roe with uni & boquerones. Minced Jamon serrano topped with garlicky aioli!

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