The restaurant scene in Bohol seems to be going through a bit of a ‘renaissance period’ with some very exciting new players coming on the scene. One such establishment is the new Bougainvillea restaurant in San Isidro. Social media was buzzing with this new find but unfortunately the earthquake in Ormoc and the resultant power outages overshadowed the new find so we didn’t get to visit until recently.
The restaurant is situated on the road down to the San Isidro beach and is perched nicely to take advantage of the view across the sea and the welcoming sea breeze. The decor is funky and intimate with seating for 30 or so patrons. It’s most probably good that it’s limited to 30 as parking is almost non existent on such a narrow road.
The restaurant is quirky but fun. The steep stairs leading up to the restaurant could be a challenge after a few sangrias but our reviewers on the night survived to tell the tale. The menu is just the right size offering a good selection of tapas, montaditios (home made Andalusian buns), paellas and an assortment of mains. Actually it’s most probably one of the more exciting menus around.
There have been several attempts over the years to offer Spanish dining in Bohol but most have failed dismally. We are not sure exactly why but our reviewers all agreed that the previous restaurants just didn’t seem to ‘feel’ authentic and they lacked excitement and vigor on behalf of the proprietors.
There is no shortage of vigor and excitement at bougainvillea. You can see it in the eyes of the chef/owner when he speaks of his cheffing experience and what attracted him to Bohol.
It was quite a challenge choosing our meals as everything on the menu was very enticing. In the end we opted to try as many of the tapas as possible (5 in all) and the seafood paella. The tapas on our hit list included calamares al la Andalusia, gamba al ajillo, sardinas al limon, surtidos de crocretas and chorizo al vino blanco.
Each tapas was nicely presented and most with an accompanying unique aioli side. We found the aioli a tad overbearing and preferred to do a bit of dipping in the sauce from the gambas which was divine! Irrespective if you are an aioli fan or not the tapas stands well by themselves. On another note the chorizo wasn’t what we are used to but the owner mentioned it was his grandmother’s recipe and we are guessing that it is a cooked chorizo as opposed to the hung air dried variety we are familiar with.
Once we had satisfied ourselves grazing through the tapas our paella arrived. The paella look the part with a nice scattering of seafood and accompanying pleasant aroma.
The rice nicely cooked and with a bit of bite that we like. The paella is easily the best we have tried in Bohol however we found the dish a tad overly seasoned with salt and the turmeric used to give the traditional color wasn’t really an effective replacement for saffron however we realize saffron is expensive and hard to come by.
The real test of a great paella is the socorate, that crisp brown base formed when the paella is coming to the end of its cooking. Unfortunately the paella we had was a bit wet hence the socorate hadn’t formed but we realize in a restaurant setting this is something very hard to produce constantly.
The service and wait staff showed that the owners can train and manage staff well. They were attentive but not overbearing which sometimes happens in local restaurants that have a high staff to guest ratio. All in all we enjoyed our meal and are looking forward to our next visit to the Bougainvillea restaurant.
Purok 7 San Isidro Dauis, Panglao island. Bohol
0908 967 3078