Saturday, February 8, 2020

Questions Answered at Q&A Kitchen + Bar

Hidden bars with a fine dining component are nothing new to the metro's culinary scene. But here's one gem of a find at the heart of Makati's bustling Salcedo Village that's bound to make you take a second look at the kitchen plus bar concept...

The bar and dining concept has always been a tricky combination with one element meeting expectations while the other falling just a bit short. Q&A Kitchen + Bar excels on both counts, with the bar whipping out handcrafted cocktails and the kitchen serving comforting yet elegantly refined dishes with a rustic Italian spin. In a special dinner hosted by Q&A Kitchen + Bar owner Bubot Quicho and noted author Alfred Krip Yuson, a flavorful Q&A session with endless rounds of cocktails, wine, sumptuous dishes and insightful conversations led to a memorable evening of good vibes. Read on for a taste and feel of Q&A Kitchen + Bar...

Discretely located at the Second Floor of ACCM Building along San Agustin in Salcedo Village, the unassuming blue door leads you inside to one of Makati's best-kept secrets. Q&A Kitchen + Bar reflects the intimate vibe of the enduring bar and dining concept with its casual and subdued elegance.

What's the bar vibe at Q&A Kitchen + Bar?

Depending on the day or the crowd, the mood is generally laid back and relaxed. Just the sort of place where the people know you and you can enjoy your favorite cocktail without the usual clutter of the typical bar scene. There's this sense of privacy and exclusivity, but this isn't a library. Or a church. It's a refined spot where you can hang loose and let loose, and why not, this is your place.  

After pressing the buzzer and entering the blue door, hit the bar for the first part of your kitchen plus bar experience at Q&A Kitchen + Bar and let Julius Veloso prepare your favorite cocktail. At Q&A Kitchen + Bar, Julius can whip up any cocktail that suits your mood. Better yet, why not let Julius surprise you with one of their specialty cocktails...

For me, it's always been the classic Old-Fashioned and they do it right at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. From the sweet muscovado to lining the rim of the glass with the zesty essence of fresh oranges and square ice cubes, this Old-Fashioned is looking real good...

...and tastes even better. Each soothing sip is enhanced by the casual yet private and exclusive vibe at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. And Bubut Quicho's personal play list humming from their customized sound system just completes the experience. It really isn't about volume and high decibels, conversations at the bar still rules at Q&A Kitchen + Bar.   

Julius then gets into the zone, preparing more cocktails before our dinner at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. Be sure to check out their cocktail menu as well as their own signature creations at the bar.  

A Bloody Mary (L) or the Q&A GandT (R)? Either way, you win. The Q&A GandT with Zafiro Gin infused with kaffir lime leaves, pink and black peppercorns, siling labuyo and torched rosemary combines the fresh and clean notes of gin with just a whisper of heat for a nice but naughty libation. 

Pair your cocktails with the Roasted Peppers, Capers and Anchovy Vinaigrette on crisp ciabatta (P 395) or the Chicken Liver Pate with preserved lemons and sweet balsamic reduction on ciabatta (P 345). Vibrant notes pop with each bite but it's the ciabatta, fresh-baked in-house that really hits the spot with its light crispness. 

What's the culinary style at Q&A Kitchen + Bar?

The tasty starters, Roasted Peppers and Chicken Liver Pate on toasted ciabatta give you an idea on the kitchen's approach to flavors. From the bar, one enters the dining area in a smooth and seamless transition. Separated by glass doors, one can easily shift from bar to dining mode in just a few steps. The semi-open kitchen set-up shows just how serious they are with the dining component at Q&A Kitchen + Bar.

From handmade pasta, fresh-baked bread like ciabatta and even creamy ricotta made in-house, Q&A Kitchen + Bar elevates the second part of the kitchen plus bar concept with the freshest ingredients. They preserve their own lemons too, and you'll find this in many of their dishes as well. Q&A Kitchen + Bar also uses the finest organic produce, including fresh vegetables and tomatoes from Benguet. The emphasis on fresh, handmade and organic ingredients gives Q&A Kitchen + Bar's menu real and honest flavors with nothing held back for comforting Italian dishes.

Executive Chef Charles Ayson is at the helm of Q&A Kitchen + Bar giving it the Manila-Italian style with rustic Italian flavors using the finest locally-sourced ingredients. And you can see and taste this from their fresh-baked ciabatta all the way to their specialty handmade pasta. 

Q&A Kitchen + Bar owner Bubot Quicho and noted writer Krip Yuson led us to our table as wine was served. Q&A Kitchen + Bar offers a wide variety of fine wines to complete your dining experience. Behind the glass windows, Executive Chef Charles Ayson prepared the evening's feast... more wine flowed to fuel lively conversations at the table. Former hotelier and owner of the iconic Giraffe decades back, Bubut Quicho and Krip Yuson engaged us with fond and nostalgic recollections of those wild times. I remembered my own experiences at Giraffe, vividly brought to life with another sip and glass of wine. Good times.  

What cuisine is served at Q&A Kitchen + Bar?

The Manila-Italian vibe described by Executive Chef Charles Ayson takes shape with our first course. Our dinner began with the Straciatella Cheese and Tomatoes (P 635) with roasted cherry tomatoes sourced from Benguet, pickled onions and crushed pistachio olive oil. The vibrant colors of the dish is a prelude to an evening filled with flavor at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. The richness of the silky smooth and creamy cheese is perfectly tempered by the tart cherry tomatoes delicately roasted for subtle smoky hints. The pickled onions and nutty pistachio olive oil adds even more layers of flavors to the dish.  

The Char-Grilled Italian Meatballs (P 395) with handmade ricotta and braised Taiwan petchay draped in thick slow-cooked tomato sauce adds a comforting and rustic mood to our exclusive dinner at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. The savory and juicy meatballs delivers bold beefy notes followed by the tartness of the slow-cooked tomato sauce for balanced flavors. The handmade ricotta adds the perfect finishing touch with its indulgent flavor and creamy texture. 

The day's fresh catch is plated with the Clams with 'Nduja (P 685), a tasty dish with plump and succulent clams draped in savory Italian chorizo sauce, preserved lemons, fennel seeds and their very own fresh-baked ciabatta. The fresh and clean briny sweetness of the clams are complemented by the deep savory notes of the sauce flavored with Italian chorizo. The preserved lemons, made in-house, cuts the richness of the sauce. The homemade ciabatta does a good job of mopping up the sauce concentrated with all the intense flavors.

No dining experience at Q&A Kitchen + Bar is complete without their signature pasta dishes. The Spaghetti Spicy Crab Fat Butter and Salmon Confit (P 495) is an elegant dish with buttery soft and flaky salmon confit, cherry tomatoes and kangkong leaves. Each noodle is draped in the briny richness of the spicy crab fat, mellowed by the indulgent notes of butter and spiked with just the right level of soothing heat.

The noodles have that perfect bite and al dente texture that can only come from handmade noodles with all the other ingredients coming together for a memorable pasta dish. The richly layered yet distinct flavors of the premium ingredients blend seamlessly proving once again that freshness is flavor.    

The Grilled Prawns with large fresh prawns on creamy polenta, caramelized onions and braised Taiwan petchay on rich chili butter sauce is another masterfully executed dish. Each bite of the fresh and succulent prawn delivers an audible snap followed by just a whisper of smoky hints from the grill. The caramelized onions adds a smoky sweetness to the dish, perfectly finished by the buttery polenta. 

Impressed with each dish served, clearly Q&A Kitchen + Bar elevates the bar and dining concept with its Italian-inspired menu using the finest and freshest ingredients. But Executive Chef Charles Ayson has even more tasty surprises up his sleeves...

The US Duck Confit (P 2,775 Half Duck good for three/P 5,225 Whole Duck good for five) is an impressive savory feast with 8-hour fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy duck and shallot garlic confit. The duck confit offers contrasting textures with tender and moist meat capped by a lightly crisp layer of skin. Just perfect.  

The shallot and garlic confit completes the dish with its deep nutty notes to balance the richness of the duck. It's the savory finale to a memorable dinner at Q&A Kitchen + Bar.

What's dessert like at Q&A Kitchen + Bar?

Desserts are often relegated as an afterthought in most bar and dining concepts, but not here at Q&A Kitchen + Bar. Great conversations continue with tempting and indulgent desserts paired with coffee or why not more wine? The Flourless Chocolate Cake (P 250) made with premium Auro Chocolate, fresh strawberries and whipped cream caps your feast with its decadent notes...

...while the Ricotta Cheesecake (P 275) made with  handmade ricotta garnished with burnt orange slice and zest with a side of whipped cream drapes the palate with a creamy richness.

But there were two other desserts that stood out that evening. The Olive Oil Ice Cream (P 250), a decadent dessert with a pair of crushed black pepper macaron sandwiches topped with shaved Pecorino and a side of black berries and oregano sprigs drizzled in Extra Virgin Olive Oil was a delightful surprise. Who knew black peppercorn would work so well in a dessert? The smooth olive oil ice cream melts in the mouth while the soft and mildly chewy texture of the macaron brings the subtle punch of crushed black pepper into play with its contrasting yet delicate notes.

The Butterscotch and Maldon Sea Salt Budino (P 250) is up high on my list, a decadent silky smooth and sinful dessert with caramel, cream and Amaretti cookies. The butterscotch is rich as it is, add some caramel and you get a double dose of indulgence with every spoonful. Executive Chef Charles Ayson described the best way to enjoy this dessert, just dig in with your spoon all the way to the bottom and follow your spoonful of pure bliss with a bite of the Amaretti cookie. And repeat.

With Valentine's just around the corner, Q&A Kitchen + Bar offers one of the metro's best options for drinks and dinner all in one place. This is how you do a bar plus dining concept, all you have have to do is enter the blue door...

Q&A Kitchen + Bar is located at Unit 2D, Second Floor, ACCM Building, 102 San Agustin , Makati or call 0917-859-5678 for inquiries and reservations. You can also visit their website at and their FB Page at for more updates.

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