Calderon Spanish Restaurant is a little hole in the wall place located in Calderon St. in San Juan. They serve home cooked and comfort style Spanish dishes and tapas. This restaurant had been on my must eat list for quite a while because of the all the good things I’ve heard from friends. I’ve just never got around to trying the place out until a couple of weeks ago when they invited me to try their new dishes. Little did I know that we would be served almost all of their signature dishes in addition to the new creations.
We started with a flurry of tapas plates starting with the Bendeja de Hamon, Chorizo y Queso (P800). A platter of cured meats, chorizos and assorted cheeses with grapes and olives on the sides. I was actually surprised with the almond slivers placed on top, it added a sweet nuttiness that provided a little break from the meats and cheeses.
Smaller plates of tapas like the Calamares Fritos (P280), Almejas en Aceite Oliva y Vino Blanco (P280), Dynamita Fritos (P280), Salpicao(P360), Gambas al Ajillo (P280), Chorizo Fritos (P280). Each plate was executed how I imagined them to be, serving sizes were pretty good. I was at a loss on what to try, there were just too much of them. The ones I readily recommend are the chorizo, supplied by Calidad Espanola.
Add a little vegetables to your meal with the Esparragos en Aceite Oliva (P170) or the Ensalada de Cezar (P200).
Pollo Iberico (P800). This is the signature dish of Calderon, requiring an advance order of 1 day. Slow baked in the oven with loads of garlic, potatoes and olive oil. Slice the chicken, mash some of the soft garlic on top add some potatoes, mix it up and enjoy. The chicken meat was flavorful to the bones, making this the best Iberian chicken I’ve ever had so far.
Classic paellas are well represented here with the ever popular soccarat in attendance. You can choose between a Paella Valenciana (P700) or Paella Negra (P500) which comes with a big dollop of aioli sauce.
I’ve never been a fan of soccarat so I was instantly drawn to the new Mushroom Paella, looks plain and simple save for some asparagus and peppers to throw a little pop of color. Spoon a couple on to your plate and be immediately entranced by the woodsy and tender rice, cooked with a pureed mushroom stock. This felt like somewhat of a risotto for me but with Spanish flavors. It is so good I did not even care it was vegetarian friendly.
Prefer pasta over rice then the Pasta de Chorizo (P220). Tomato based with crushed chorizo mixed into the sauce for lots of punchy flavor. There’s even a whole fried egg that you can eat on it on or better yet break it and mix it with the pasta for a little gooey shine.
Cangrejos ala Calderon (P1000). Crabs cooked in olive oil, with lots of garlic cloves, tarragon and some lemon for a bit of citrus flavor.
Their Chuleton steak is Kitayama wagyu simply grilled with salt and pepper, sliced then served.
Some of the new dishes include the Lengua, creamy sauce with lots of mushrooms, a Roasted bone marrow dish (passed on this) and this Fish with salsa and clams, another one which I really enjoyed.
Calderon Spanish Restaurant is small, quaint and charming. It exudes a feeling of eating in someones home with their mother or grandmother dishing out family recipes. Serving sizes was robust and can readily be share a few people. They are party of the growing foodie street of anchored by J Abad Santos and its side streets, featuring a hodgepodge of small restos with different cuisine specialties.
Calderon Spanish Restaurant403 F Calderon St. Little Baguio, San Juan Telephone No.: (632) 238-2264; 0926-7279465 (Globe); 0919-8060358 (Smart) Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday 11:30am to 10:30pm
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