Tag Archives: Bonifacio High Street

The Village Tavern: That Scrummy Supper

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The Village Tavern is perhaps the closest thing to an Irish pub that I would find in this life—unless I manage to sneak into someone’s luggage to the United Kingdom, an idea I find rather feasible given my size. I have always envisioned the authentic pub as brick-layered, partly rustic, showing the occasional football game with screaming-jostling abound. A leprechaun or Ron Weasley might make a surprise visit but other than that, mugs clicking are the staple.

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The Village Tavern in BGC offers a different perspective to the classic pub theme, elevating the experience to high end, grandiose American, gastronomic experience. Perhaps relying entirely on the word Tavern is a misnomer worth welcoming, since focus on meticulously prepared food will find greater appreciation in a hunger stricken place like Manila. The meticulously prepared food also has a price, a bit too much of it. Let’s just say Ron Weasley would go all “Blimey!” once he reads the menu and might have to skimp on Butterbeer for a week.

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The serving size ought to make up for the costly meals, but for those served for the solitary diner, best to credit presentation and restaurant lighting as contributing factors to the food cost.

bonifacio high street restaurant

The Tavern Nachos are the usual kind, glammed up a bit with monterey jack, cheddar, salsa, sour cream. Being the resident vegetarian, the beef was requested to be placed on the side—to which they obliged. There is nothing absolutely special to say about the nachos, since nachos are always exemplary unless topped with Kraft cheese, so as a default appetizer, nothing beats nachos. Except anything with mozzarella.

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The Onion Rings are probably the cheapest item in the menu, probably because they were more batter than onion. As an inexpensive siding, they were hmmm-kay. As a person allergic to oil, grease or trans fat, stay away.

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The Jalapeno Poppers are said to be the bestselling items in the menu, frequently favored by food bloggers or anyone who loves to get creamed and spiced up at the same time. Unfortunately, the bacon prevented me from digging in, but with the sour cream cheese and fried presence, these poppers find it impossible to be everyone’s favorite. Again I’d be bound to ditch this over something with mozzarella, or the nachos for that matter—and the meat eaters will agree.

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Another strange and fatty concoction of Chorizo and Cheese – not mine.

food trip bonifacio highstreet

The Flash Fried Calamari was a dash of seafood splendor. Albeit a small serving, the bite size pieces found themselves all over my salad and plate. They were cute to look at and left a lasting memory in my palate. They also disappeared in a jiffy – like a flash someone ate ’em all!

Taguig american comfort food

What I am grateful for is salad. Anywhere I go, salad is normally the safest choice. Having seen the Chicken Thai Salad served about 4 times since I got to The Village Tavern, it warranted an order – just for me! Maybe it was the towering greens or the wonton strips or the Asian allure. For me, it was the curiosity. A bit on the sweet side, but with cabbage, edamame and delectable chicken strips, this was worth the rare caloric fest.

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The Black Pizza is sadly not mine. Topped with meat and pepperoni, I can only stare and sniff. My, my, the black crust alone was drool-worthy so I needed a bite, at the very least! Look at those herbs; they were calling out to me!

Black Pizza Bonifacio global city

Good thing there was a meatless niche and graciously sliced for me. Ah yes, this cheesy chunk of black pizza was fantastic, chewy and teary-eyed yummy all throughout. Being a crust hater, this is one of those rare occasions I happily finished the crust. It was a mind boggling crus-terrific slice. I wish there will be vegetarian or seafood options for this one!

mussels cappellini seafood

The angel hair Mussels Cappellini is exotically named and brandished on a soup bowl. The pesto-white wine sauce complements the mussels but others, like myself, may find it on the sea-salty side. Perhaps my parmesan was uncalled for, or my palate is just unfamiliar with Chilean mussels, which is strongly the case. Pardon the seafood deficiency since my most extensive background hails from the overly bland cream dory. Overall though, the angel hair and soupy texture lighten the saline rush and we get a pure mussels madness—with all that iodine and zinc, we should be getting smarter, awright?

dessert lazy black cat

I Instagrammed my Double Decker Cheesecake, labeling it as death, or a welcome to it as such. Though double in layers, it could perhaps feed a family, a large one for that matter. The layers of Chocolate and Cheesecake make you forget that you are in a watering hole where drinks and friends are the reason for convening; with this giant slice in front of you, only the cheesecake matters. It’s brick of a cheesecake will make you forget even your BFFs, guaranteed a near sleepless night and will make you wish you didn’t order those jalapeno poppers instead.

vegetarian bonifacio restaurant

Trying to personify vegetarian in the dessert arena, ordering the Very Best Carrot Cake was imperative! The cream cheese icing was a tad too much after having a creamy salad, but a dollop here and there could be spared.

Chocolate torte lazy black cat

That St. Barths Chocolate Torte at the background was not to be messed with. Sweet through and through and only with the vanilla ice cream to counter the sugar kick, this was the devil in disguise. Good and evil on a plate. You ought to consider confessing after this uber-sweet-treat.

If there’s a reason to go back to the Village Tavern, it’s to eat all those blasted desserts. Big enough to feed a village—so that’s where the reference comes from, mate!

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To be or to Chelsea

serendra restaurant

Having a collection analogous terms, “Chelsea” can spur quite a debacle in our household.

Imagine the common name, like say, Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Dagger. Then here comes the futbol fanatic saying he adores Manchester United and that Chelsea FC is bleh. All right, understandable.  Not to be forgotten, we next get a smothering list of London and NY related places, which are more than a handful.

Oh, the Chelseas of Webster! No wonder Wikipedia can’t get enough of you!

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But really now, being a food blogger in Manila, when I say Chelsea, it can only mean one thing: Chelsea Market & Café, at Serendra, Bonifacio High Street (there’s another at Podium). Sure, it’s a copycat version of the “real” Chelsea (NY) but what can I do, I live in the Pacific so I have to make do with what I can access logistically.

To be honest, I did not want 2013 to end without having visited Chelsea Market & Café. What a silly wish, you might wonder, but for a northern dweller like myself, trips to BGC can be quite arduous. Luckily I did get my wish –  that was 3 days before the New Year –  one cloudy Saturday (or the last for 2013), we finally hopped in our car and decided that yes, Chelsea it is!

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I did make a reservation 2 days before, but the bookkeeper seemed to be lost in his own battle with his body piercings, so that reservation was made in vain (and his chunky planner may have been a spells book in disguise, I did not bother to inspect). Good thing we were quite early and managed so secure a couch adjacent to the IKEA wall. If IKEA were to partner with a restaurant, this would be it.

Bonifacio Highstreet restaurant cafe

Before orders were made and inquiries tossed around, let me tell you that the place already screamed of slow service. It was in the air—oh, and my nefarious instincts are rarely wrong! Slacking pace—New Yorkers would have a riot on this objectionable trait!

When the order taker finally came to mind—perhaps perked up a bit with a sip of Red Bull—our orders came crashing in. The hunger we kept to ourselves suddenly materialized and out came words like pizza, confit, warm water, cheese, red wine, and no, make it 5 cheese! It was a mess of a notepad.

appetizer chelsea market cafe

To top off the chaos, my auntie decided to twist things a bit more—had the pasta sauce changed from pesto (Oven-Roasted Seafood and Tomato Cream Pesto) to Marinara. It was an entirely new dish—and the chef permitted this common abomination we like to call Seafood in the Red. Really now, it was just a bit of Ragu mixed with seafood and voila, customer service at its finest! As for gastronomic satisfaction, I leave that to the lucky diner—not me!

appetizer chelsea serendra

For starters we had a wee serving of the Warm Gorgonzola Dip with Vegetable Sticks and Potato Wedges. I am not kidding when I say “wee” since each vegetable type must equal 4 servings and not a sliver more, except for the caper—but who likes capers? The potato wedges came in a bit of abundance in proportion, so we thank the chef for this oily bounty. The gorgonzola dip was warm and creamy with this hearth flavor, but with a very small amount of vegetables for dipping, all that good cheese was left to waste.

salad chelsea fort

The Roasted Garlic Portobello Mushroom Confit came in a surprise platter because what landed on our table was a nest of arugula—lovely! Underneath the rocket forest came the sweet and succulent Portobello which made hearts out of our eyeballs for a nanosecond. With pesto spritzes, shaved cheese and cherry tomatoes, this made the gorgonzola dish hide in the shame of its scarcity.

pizza pasta fort restaurant

The Pizzas (All Meat and Five Cheese) came in thin crust variety and were consistently topped with arugula. Now I know whose pantry to raid when the arugula stocks in groceries are depleted, which is like, always.

vegetarian pizza bonifacio fort

The Five Cheese Pizza has that star beside its name in the menu, so I figured it should be the better pizza—not! Well, it tasted so-so and hmmmm-kay—for a Chelsea dish. It wasn’t that spectacular and was served not-so-piping-hot. Even the wee slices of apples alongside the arugula could not make a difference—since they were miniscule to begin with. Had I known it would be a mediocre cheese dish, I might have gone for that Greek Panko salad instead. At least the cheese on that one is more, apparent.

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When the Southern Style Cornflake and Oatmeal Crusted Fried Chicken came, it looked like something that came from grandma’s kitchen. Still with arugula and potato wedges, the breading is a meal on its own—cracking sweet and oaty! A good pairing with the sickly pizza.

steak salad fort restaurant

Just a photo of the Grilled Roasted U.S. Rib Eye Steak, though nothing can be said about it. If you press for information, call my Ossan, but I really, really doubt if he can give any helpful input. Best he could say is: It did not go with red wine. Because really, it did not go with red wine. I warned you.

fort bonifacio restaurant menu

Despite a heavily starchy lunch, we still went for dessert. A trip to the Fort necessitates the hoarding of more calories, to bring us home safely, and with the chiller so close to our table, EQs are lost as hunger surges once again.

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100% mine, the New York Chocolate Chip Brown Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Longest name in the bunch with perhaps a proportionate amount of saturated fat. With cheesecake interspersed with cookies and more cookie dough in the base, it was cheesecake heaven until I finished half the slice. The other half called for tea and a kilometer of walking. Still, I persisted and finished the damn slice. Pretty damn good—but I doubt if I can take on this challenge again!

ice cream gelato dessert bonifacio

The others had the Super Ice Cream Sundae, Nocciola Gelato and that  Four Layer Toblerone Torte.

dessert serendra fort

The Ice Cream Sundae is Super because of the obvious add-ons, most of which seemed to be cream. If you’re a fan of cream and just 2 scoops of gelato, you will delight in this. If you hate cream like me, get a cake.

cake dessert chelsea

The Four Layer Toblerone Torte has repetitive layers of that cake/merengue and crème filling. The novelty is in the height and not the assortment of the layers, if you’re thinking Mango Bravo. If you like uber sweet and Toblerone, go for it. Otherwise, check the menu for something that summons your dark gluttonous self.

lazy black cat review food

Our local Chelsea experience can be summed up as a calorific, overpriced slacker’s meal. The food was on the mediocre side and did not exactly fire stars from my eyes. Whilst we know the ingredients were of the supreme and fresh kind (well I do hope so), the overall package is not worth waiting for again.

So if you’re going to summon New York, that hurry-that-pace-and-move-in-a-flurry because that’s how they are in we-hate-waiting East Coast—then our local Chelsea will freeze you in time and you better pop in a microwave dish instead.

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But since I’m in the New Year positive chakra forgiving mood: As for Chelsea Market & Café, you’re almost there; buy a watch with a timer and get back to me once you remember to serve the Toblerone Torte. (Yup they forgot about it.)

Fair enough, yow.

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Agave: Ay, Carumba!

mexican restaurant

If Chicharito were to visit Manila one day and crave for a cilan-terrific burrito—both of which are extremely surreal—I’ve made my list where to take the striker. There’s Orale and Ristra’s, but let’s not forget the list which is banned from even making its way in his consciousness: Mexicanto, Mexicali, Baja Mexican Cantina, Taco Bell (how dare we bring Chicha to fast food) and Agave (BGC and Eastwood).

For those awed by the word Agave, I was too, until I learned that it is nothing but a juicy plant of the tropics and not a secret ingredient. Now if you think Agave, the restaurant, harbors a secret ingredient in its Mexican fares, that again brings disappointment.

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Agave may be a Mexican joint but it disrupts the exotic vibe by assaulting its kitchen with the Pinoy extract. The tangy burst of flavor, much anticipated spice and touch of cilantro and other unidentified herbs are absent. What we get are flavors straight out of our neighbor’s kitchen, the one reading about Mexican 101 whose name might start with Manang.

The disillusionment cannot be concealed, since I was highly expecting a glorious Mexican fiesta to kick Ristra’s ass. Sadly enough, even CPK and Chili’s can whip up a better tomato masterpiece with their American set-up.

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The quesadillas are plainly assembled and the pico de gallo, consumable in 2 bites. The lack of generosity in the cheese is a sign of Third World penury and my cheese fixation thrived for weeks from this deprivation. The tortilla is far from freshly made and is desert dry all throughout. The vegetables come in skimped portion to match the waitress garb, and the only thing that comes in abundance are the shorts which I find no interest in.

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The same formula follows for the chicken enchiladas, only made more distinguished with the tomato sauce that dressed the wrap. Requesting for the rice to be replaced with side salad was a sensible choice, since poco is the new pico de gallo here. The enchilada remains boringly standard, and there is nothing savory, fajita-like, tangy, smoky or just yummy about the chicken. It is just, well chicken. Pollo, but no loco.

Which brings me to the fact that I have once again been fooled like the time I spent at Rue Bourbon, when I learned after the first greasy bite that they sell drinks, not food. Food is perhaps just a government requirement to set up shop but drinks up, we’re a watering hole, duh. Oh duh. I’ve been had again.

Agave is that place where you go for beer and alcohol and more drinks to come. No such thing as a grande fiesta, just a terrible taco or that que barbaridad quesadilla. If you want Mexican food, go somewhere else because Agave is just a plant that cannot even afford decent cheese!

Lo siento, Chicharito we will have to take you elsewhere. While it might please me to hear you yell “Que Barbaridad!” in your own way, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of my meal. I’ll just bring you EDSA, MRT or my room instead. 

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No Fuss, Nolita (BHS)

New York style pizza is rather hard to come by in Manila, being the district for thick crust mayhem and cheddar cheese. Oh and there’s also this issue of self-service—the folks seem to hate it. Carrying trays is so blue collar, and so the New York mind of an independent eater barely works in the high and mighty Metro Manila.

For the self-sustaining and autonomous though, here’s one place that might cater to your lifestyle and preferences, gourmet-wise that is. Nolita at Bonifacio High Street is the New York Pizza haven that summons Little Italy in this garage style nook that blasts Euro rock as if I was chilling in my own room.

Handmade, freshly baked and topped with fresh and inventive toppings that can surely beckon any New York native, Nolita’s pizzas are worth the long drive from home. With flavors that range from cheese, pepperoni to spinach and artichoke there’s a slice for every gastronomic preference. Menu items are listed on the chalkboard and for certain, there were flavors I missed like the slice with the fried egg (Breakfast?), tomatoes and feta cheese (Greek?) and Broccoli (I suppose cruciferous slice?). Never mind the names, since point-and-heat is the way to go, no proper vocabulary necessary. This is New York, man.

Starters are also available, and the onion rings (Beer battered with Sriracha dip) alone were enough to forego another slice of pizza. With pasta (gluten-free, cool huh) and burgers on the menu, not to mention a horde of desserts, there’s so much to taste and discover at Nolita, it warrants a number of visits in the future.

But.

The service was excessively slow, it took 50 minutes to get me a slice of cheese pizza. New York traffic? I don’t think so, just the case of the I-forgot-you-because-all-you-got-was-a-cheese-pizza-you-simpleton. Sheesh, I suppose discrimination exists even in Little Italy.

Oh and no apologies or compensatory damages, just “I forgot!”

Next time I commit a crime, I ought to try that. “I forgot.” Might get me off life sentence.

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Swinging by the Mango Tree

Mango Tree Bistro BGC

If you suddenly find yourself dining at Mango Tree (Bonifacio High Street), well for starters, try not to look for a mango tree or any form of horticulture in the premises. An inquiry on mango-laden dishes may be considered an act of curiosity, but don’t expect the menu to be doused with mango-fused dishes. Or expect mango juice to be free-flowing. That’s what we would call stereotyping and a lack of creativity on your part.

Mango Tree Bistro review

Instead, find not a tribal-island place but rather, an uppity-up Thai fine dining spot that basks in the elegance of its chandeliers and high ceilings and steers clear of banana leaves. Despite the fancy atmosphere, there is still a subtle hint of Thai homey-ness that perhaps is fitting when reading a menu filled with lengthy Thai jargon, dominated by Kaeng, Phad and Tom. Sounds like my childhood friends – how I wish they were – but they translate to Curry, Fried, and Soup respectively.

Mango Tree Bistro Thai Iced tea

Dimly lit and with a slightly vermillion theme, there is no house mango-anything; however they offer their splendid Thai Iced Tea, which is not for free but is tasty enough to compete with the Taiwanese milk teas. If I am not mistaken, their secret ingredient is condensed milk. And lots of ice.

The food came in a blur, with servings good enough for 2 hungry or 3 skinny people. With the dim atmosphere and the hasty movements of the hungry, pardon the photos and the blur. This thing we call hunger can seriously cause ADD.

The Yum Woon Sen came with glass noodles that shimmered a mile away, and this posed as a potential salad favorite. The unusually salty-sour-spicy dressing was greatly new to my palate, yet well met. However the same fate cannot be said to my fellow diners – which left more for me. (Yay!)

Sauce, not soup!

Sauce, not soup!

Mango Tree Bistro appetizer

The deep fried catfish (Yom Pla Duk Fu) was served with a green mango salad-sauce that we first thought was a cup of soup. Come on, in the dark, the mango slivers looked like noodles and when placed in a soup bowl, just screamed, “Taste me!” not, “I’m the catfish dip.” The unlucky taster was not pleased by her tingling senses, but did enjoy the catfish greatly. Meat eaters might perhaps compare this to the local fare chicharon, but I prefer to describe it as the crunchy fish almost-floss.

thai restaurant bgc

The spring rolls (regular and shrimp) were a feast for the eyes but came in only 5 pieces per order. Groups dining who are not a multiple of 5 will have to split, share or abstain. In our case, it was “the faster fork wins.” Filled with glass noodles and vegetables, it was crunchy, delectable and a bit on the oily side. The sweet and sour sauce that came with the rolls is an absolute necessity, since the dish on its own is bland, on account of the noodle component.

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A trip to a Thai restaurant is never complete without an order of Phad Thai. Our Phad Thai Goong was enclosed in an egg-net that was so lovely to look at, I couldn’t bear to ruin the design with the fork. But eat was the main order of the evening, and I had the privilege of bringing forth destruction of the fortress and getting the first fork. The rice noodles were on the thin side but the taste was an explosion of sour, salty and spicy. With eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts and shrimps swimming around the dish, it was an excellent conquest.

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The grilled quid (Pla Meuk Kang) was mildly sweet yet very tender. Grilling squid can be a tricky business, so this successful attempt at serving a tender dish with no hints of the biter grill taste was very much appreciated. In no time, there was even no sign that Kraken had graced the table.

mango tree food review

This grilled chicken was so typical and straightforward that I forgot its menu name. Seriously though, if could give it an English name, it would be: Golden Grilled Chicken. As for the flavor, we’re probably better off discovering more traditional Thai recipes in the next visit. Like satay, curry or mango chutney.

It was among the desserts where we found the abundance of mangoes, which led me to think that perhaps there is a mango tree somewhere in this restaurant.

where to eat bgc

The Mango Cheesecake was a refreshingly sweet change from the spiced up dinner. The cheesecake was on the light and frothy side, but the mangoes proved to the winner. Undeniably sweet and succulent, this is why mango is my favorite fruit! Delightful!

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The sticky rice, which looks a lot like biko, is actually Khao Niew Ma Muang. It is so difficult to pronounce and remember with so many syllables that seek to confuse, the waitress must be so used to people referring to it as biko as well. Of course she couldn’t go around spreading the word and calling it such, but for patrons of local rice cakes, this one’s for you.

As for me, my mind already shut down after the Mango Cheesecake.

While not for the faint-hearted, spice-averse and those who simply detest lemongrass and curry, Mango Tree may not be the best destination. You might find yourself reaching out for a Mango Ago-go at neaby Jamba Juice instead.

However if you’re very much into the adventurous and exotic Thai fare-fest, then dig in and find a spot in Mango Tree. I assure you, your palate will be very pleased.

As for the wallet, that’s a different story.

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