San Sebastian is quite a special place for foodies, renowned for its Basque cuisine, with the surrounding area being home to a high concentration of restaurants boasting Michelin starts such as Arzak (San Sebastián), Berasategi (Lasarte), Akelarre (district Igeldo) and Mugaritz (Errenteria), to mention but a few. It is also quite popular for its Semana Grande, a summer festival that involves loud trumpets, adults dressed as bulls chasing around children, fireworks, giant statues being paraded around the city’s streets, lots of wine and pintxos, and a whole lot of chaotic, eardrum-bursting fun.
Missing the flavors of his hometown, Chef J. Luis “Chele” Gonzales decided to bring a taste of his native Northern Spain to the Philippines with him, with the all new San Sebastian Weekend Brunch happening at Vask in Bonifacio Global City.
Stepping out of the elevator, Vask’s popular Darth Vader Sto. Niño to your right, and the interesting dresser with the hologram face staring at you as you walk on by to the left. One can appreciate the quirky artwork out in the hallway, giving you a conversation piece while you wait to get seated.
By the buffet spread is a cheeky Salvadore Dali, a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter, peeking out at the guests with his ridiculous signature mustache. I love how this establishment fills its spaces with interesting pieces of art, keeping you amused the whole time you’re there.
The atmosphere is pretty chill, and one can end up staying for hours on end enjoying the good food, the view, and the company you keep.
Some of the highlights of the brunch are the delectable Pintxos, a popular Basque canapé topped with slivers of aged ham, fresh salmon, and tender steak on crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. This is best enjoyed with their Kalimotxo cocktail – a Basque version of sangria- made with white wine, mangoes, oranges, peach schnapps, and a tinge of lemon.
The Soup of the Day varies from weekend to weekend, depending on what the kitchen has that’s fresh, but the uncomplicated vegetable soup is quite a comforting treat. Put together with chopped onions, celery, carrots, and zucchini, it is served in a clear broth with semolina grains and little Parmesan biscuits, the salty cheese complimenting the light soup.
Also, not to be missed out on are the pass around Tempura’d Oysters, served with a chili sauce, giving another layer of flavor to the fresh, briny, juicy shellfish.
To keep you coming back, the chefs at Vask change some of the dishes every now and then, but there are a few staples on the San Sebastian menu: Bokerones, anchovies marinated in vinegar and Extra virgin olive oil; Patatas Bravas, potato cubes in ali oli; Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo, ham and chicken croquettes with béchamel; Pulpo a la Gallega, octopus and potatoes with paprika; Mejillones Tigre, spicy crispy béchamel mussels; and Rabas, fresh squid deep fried with a basil mayonnaise.
A Spanish brunch wouldn’t be complete without Paella, and the selection at Vask varies every weekend. The inky Paella Negra is uncomplicated, with fluffy Arrborio rice coated with a rich squid ink and sliced baby squid . This was simple and delicious – you don’t really need to over complicate it with anything else. My only problem with having a lot of this was squid ink teeth!
And with every Spanish gathering, one mustn’t forget the star of Vask’s San Sebastian brunch, the Cochinillo that is crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside. Like the paella, it was uncomplicated and straightforward, with a crunchy, crunchy skin and flaky porcine meat that I enjoyed with the patatas bravas.
When I popped by for brunch, Chef Chele was taking a much needed vacation, but before doing that he brought in the equally talented Chef Roberto Hernandez who is helping out in the kitchen and in the middle of putting up a Spanish rice-themed restaurant at BGC which is also quite exciting.
Get a taste of Basque country with the San Sebastian Weekend Brunch at Vask (P1,395/person) with free-flowing white and red Kalimotxo (additional Php 299) all Saturdays and Sundays of the month.
Vask is located on the 5th floor of the Clipp Center, located at 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig and open between the hours of 11:30am – 2:30pm and 6pm – 1am daily. For inquiries or to make a reservation, please call +63 2 217 6563.