Sunday, December 29, 2019

#FourScenePicksFour: Four Memorable Dining Experiences That Made Our List

It's often said that what makes dining so memorable are the fond memories triggered by comforting dishes, discovering new flavors that widen your palate's perspective, being transported to a far-away place with just a bite, a simple plate masterfully executed or a chef who tells an engaging story behind each dish. These are what makes dining special and as another year comes to a close, here's four picks that made our list... 

The mandatory list of favorites is one way to celebrate and recap a year of good food and good times, and looking back, our group FourScene certainly has a few. And what a year. Manila's culinary scene continues to evolve adapting to the fickle and ever-changing palate of local diners. But there are a few that remain relevant in a market where trends come and go. Here's four that made our list driven by the metro's best and passionate chefs, in no particular order or ranking, with FourScene Picks Four...

Stripping it Down to Bare Essentials at Savage by Chef Josh Boutwood

You might be wondering why one restaurant serving Devilled Eggs made it to our list. Well, Josh Boutwood, Executive Chef of The Bistro Group, makes you take a second look at comforting dishes stripping it down to its bare essentials. And that includes preparing all their signature dishes with pre-industrial techniques. That's right. Savage is about cooking with wood, fire and smoke for a novel yet nostalgic approach to modern cuisine (for more on Savage by Chef Josh Boutwood, see my earlier post, The Secret's Out: Take Five at Arya Plaza for the Best Al Fresco Dining in BGC and #EatsForEveryone: World Class Cuisine Under One Roof at My South Hall by Chef Josh Boutwood on his latest concept for The Bistro Group). A good fire always means good food. And Savage reminds you of that with their extensive menu, fresh from the wood-fired grill.

Comfortingly familiar yet refreshingly new, Chef Josh Boutwood adds his own inventive spin to a classic. Drizzled with smoked oil and ash, Chef Josh Boutwood's simple yet elegant Devilled Eggs will have you going for seconds...

Consistent with Chef Josh Boutwood's culinary philosophy of "triangular balance," the Pork Belly, Cola and Pineapple combines distinct and contrasting notes in another dish perfectly finished in the wood-fired grill. From the savory richness of the tender and juicy pork belly enhanced by a whisper of smoke from its delicately charred edges, the deep sweetness of the cola marinade and the vibrant tartness of the pineapple chutney, the slab of pork belly is a hearty yet finely balanced dish of complex notes coming together with each bite.    

The Barramundi, Arugula, Preserved Lemon & Olive follows the simple, even primal approach to cuisine using the freshest ingredients gently laid on a wood-fired grill. The briny sweetness of the barramundi drapes the palate with its succulent freshness followed by hints of smoke and finished by the bright notes of the preserved lemon, olives and arugula for both flavor and texture. The dish is deceptively simple, gently kissed by the flame from the wood burning grill yet the flavors are bold and honestly real. Add that nostalgic vibe from the wood burning grill, and Savage by Chef Josh Boutwood brings you back when fire, smoke and time along with fresh ingredients were all that's needed for a sumptuous feast. Stripped down to the bare essentials, masterfully executed. That's Savage by Chef Josh Boutwood.

Flavorful Stories at Gallery by Chele

Chef Chele Gonzalez takes you and your palate on a culinary journey of flavors, diving deep into our basket of fresh local produce and heritage for a unique and modern perspective on our evolving cuisine. For Chele, it's all about the preservation, sustainability, exploration and an insatiable curiosity of food and local ingredients reinterpreted with modern techniques at Gallery by Chele (for more on Gallery by Chele, see my post, Modern Cuisine. Local Ingredients. Masterfully Executed at Gallery by Chele...).

Inside the elegant space that bears his name, Gallery by Chele represents one man's own journey as he establishes his roots in the local culinary scene. Each dish has a story, reflecting his own experiences with local produce and ingredients. His varied tasting menus is a literal mosaic of local flavors, like the wittingly named Breakfast with longganisa, pickles and quail egg garnished with a lantana flower on a rice crisp.

From his a la carte menu, Chef Chele's Silly Too Na is a playfully creative dish with prime tuna belly, red wine cherry and pickled malunggay pesto topped with pickled chili peppers. The briny richness of the tuna are delicately tempered by the spicy pickled chili and nutty malunggay pesto for multiple layers of flavors. A chat with Chele gives you an in-depth perspective on his many travels throughout the country searching for the finest local ingredients. Chele's insightful stories on his travels for the various ingredients used in his dishes reveal an uncompromising character. Chele is on a mission.

From Chef Chele's Five Course Tasting Menu, regional flavors is the source of inspiration for the elegantly plated Cochinito with local jackfruit and bok choy. The tender and juicy pork neck brings a savory richness to the palate, contrasting with the sweetness of the jackfruit and mildly bitter notes of the bok choy. The combination of flavors are unlike any I've experienced. Chef Chele brings a unique perspective to local produce and ingredients, and it's interesting to experience a foreigner's take on our cuisine. 

Like chapters in a continuing story, Chef Chele retells his journey with each plate. From the Josper Grill named Lucy because of her hellish heat, the Fired! Pulpo is an ode to his own roots back in Spain. Perfectly grilled with its delicate charred outer layer delivering distinct smoky notes, the tender octopus brings a subtle and fresh sweetness to the palate followed by the mild sharpness of the pickled shallots. From tasting menus to a la carte dishes, Chef Chele weaves flavorful stories at Gallery by Chele. And he has even more stories to share come the new year. Let Chef Chele take you and your palate on a culinary journey of vibrant flavors reinterpreted in a modern style at Gallery by Chele.

The Sun Always Shines at Mireio in Raffles Makati

The elegant space draped in the distinctive bright blue light (which I call the Mireio light) coming in from the panoramic floor-to-ceiling glass windows immediately transports you to Provence. Welcome to Mireio at Raffles Makati (for more on Mireio, see my previous posts, Brunch Redefined at Mireio's Luxe Sunday Brunch and Elevating The Brunch Experience at Mireio's Luxe Sunday Brunch Buffet on their indulgent and sumptuous Sunday Brunch offerings, A Provencal Lunch with Chef de Cuisine Herve Clair at Mireio and A Taste of Provence at Mireio on my very first visit).

Named after the epic poem by Nobel Prize winner Frederic Mistral, Mireio reflects the colors, art and flavors of the sun-kissed Provencal countryside. Breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch or dinner, Mireio's hearty flavors shine bright. Always. Just like the poem, Mireio is always "enrayed with light." And Chef de Cuisine Herve Clair, a native of Provence, takes you there with his wide and varied repertoire of dishes. Start your Luxe Sunday Brunch at Mireio with their signature Lobster Custard served in an egg shell...

...followed by their Salmon Benedict delicately prepared as you order. It's the perfect start to a weekend at Mireio. 

Bouillabaisse, they say, is France in a bowl. And you can have your own bowl prepared a la minute at the Luxe Sunday Brunch with the day's freshest catch, faithfully recreated by Chef de Cuisine Herve Clair at Mireio.

And the seafood doesn't end there. The Luxe Sunday Brunch at Mireio offers a lavish array of fresh seafood from crabs to lobsters, prawns, mussels and clams on ice. 

Gourmet cheeses, charcuterie and fresh seafood offer tempting options before the mains at Mireio. At the Carving Station, load up on Wagyu Prime Rib with a side of crisp French beans.

For dinner, the Roasted Duck Foie Gras with Granny Smith Apples and Ginger Chutney is always the perfect starter. Heading to the south of France simply means going up to the 9th Floor of Raffles Makati at Mireio.

The World's Finest Beef at Sage Bespoke Grill in Makati Shangri-La, Manila

The Josper Grill is all fired up loaded with the world's finest beef at Sage Bespoke Grill. An Argentine is at the helm of Sage Bespoke Grill, and he knows his beef. Let Executive Chef de Cuisine Sebastian Barcudes show you some of the world's prized beef at Sage Bespoke Grill (for more on Sage Bespoke Grill, see my posts, Straight from The Josper Grill: A Taste of Sage Bespoke Grill's New Dishes and #ATasteOfArgentina: Discover Bolzico Argentine Beef at Sage Bespoke Grill's A Taste of Argentina featuring Executive Chef de Cuisine Sebastian Barcudes,  Fire Up Your Sundays with Sunday BBQ Brunch at Sage Bespoke Grill, The Sunday Grill Buffet at Sage Bespoke Grill on their Sunday Brunch Buffet offerings, Serious Beef: We Steak and Wine Sage Bespoke Grill. and A Day with Chef Kevin Cherkas at Sage Bespoke Grill). Beef is tightly woven with Argentina's history, culture and lore and Executive Chef de Cuisine Sebastian Barcudes is well aware of this. The inclusion of Bolzico beef in its wide repertoire of beefy offerings lets diners enjoy a taste of Argentina's finest, served fresh off the Josper Grill.  

At Sage Bespoke Grill, premium beef from the US, Argentina, Australia and Japan are offered daily in a variety of cuts and finished in their Josper Grill. 

Sage Bespoke Grill also offers a selection of the finest and freshest seafood like the Seared Hokkaido Scallops with brown cauliflower, lemon and mint for a refreshing starter before your main course.

From Argentine Bolzico Beef Tenderloin, Oyster Blade and Ribeye...

...Australian Wagyu Jacks Creek MB 5 Porterhouse, Jacks Creek MB 5 Tomahawk and Jacks Creek MB 5 Chateaubriand...

... to John Dee Banksia 60-Day Grain-Fed Australian Spice Crusted OP Rib, Chipotle Braised Short Rib and Sher Wagyu Striploin, take your pick. Each prime cut is masterfully finished at the Josper Grill under the watchful eyes of Executive Chef de Cuisine Sebastian Barcudes at Sage Bespoke Grill. That's why these four made it to our list. From triggering fond memories to being transported to a far away place, rediscovering familiar flavors executed in a new and refreshed way to dishes that tell an engaging story, these four chef-driven dining establishments represent some of the best culinary options in the metro. And we're not done yet. As a new year approaches, stay tuned for more #FourScenePicksFour...

For more on FourScene, check out our FB Page at FourScene.

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