Thursday, October 7, 2021

Alamat Filipino GastroPub: Chef Ramon Antonio Spins Flavorful New Stories in Makati's Poblacion

A familiar dive in Makati's Poblacion gets illuminated with a new light for flavorful and memorable stories...

Agimat Filipino GastroPub shines once more in the vibrant neighborhood of Poblacion unveiling a colorful new chapter weaving comforting and familiar Filipino flavors with a contemporary spin. True to its name, new urban folklores and myths expressed in creative dishes will soon add exciting new layers to the eclectic and Bohemian neighborhood. Step inside for a sneak peek of Alamat Filipino GastroPub's new menu... 

The Neighborhood Awakens From The Quarantine Slumber

The quarantine experience placed everything on hold for over a year, even the bustling scene and bright lights of Poblacion flickered under the strict protocols and restrictions due to the pandemic. New consumer habits have emerged from the surge of home-based food businesses to dining at home, the rise of the food delivery culture and increased online usage transforming the culinary landscape that continues to define a challenging new normal. But as the metro slowly and cautiously opens up with the gradual easing of restrictions, the lights return to illuminate the legendary streets of the quirky neighborhood.

Located at the Second Floor along Don Pedro Street in Poblacion, Agimat Filipino GastroPub is just one of many distinct threads in the colorful tapestry of the neighborhood. Known for its handcrafted cocktails and inventive cuisine, the tradition continues with the new menu offerings created by Chef Ramon Antonio.

At the al fresco area of Agimat Filipino GastroPub, guests and diners can enjoy the neighborhood's vibe and character in a spacious setting with social distancing protocols in place for your peace of mind. All the mandatory health and safety standards are implemented at Agimat Filipino GastroPub, from temperature scans to contact tracing. 

Meet Chef Ramon Antonio

I first met Chef Ramon Antonio back in 2017 and his unique creative process behind each dish continues to amaze and inspire. Each plate is a blank canvas splashed with layers of bright flavors, beginning with a pen and a sheet of paper (for more on the unique process of Chef Ramon Antonio, see my post from four years back, From Palette to Palate: Art and Modern Filipino Cuisine at Marco Polo Manila's Cucina). Chef, musician and storyteller, Ramon Antonio's global adventures have enriched his culinary perspective interpreted in a variety of dishes at Agimat Filipino GastroPub. His creative culinary process and the revival of Poblacion's dining scene are reasons enough to revisit the neighborhood. The new menu at Agimat Filipino GastroPub reflects this novel artistic approach for a unique dining experience.

At an exclusive get-together, Chef Ramon Antonio along with Mixologist Cedric Cello prepared a curated menu paired with drinks to introduce the new Agimat Filipino GastroPub experience. 

A Reason To Raise A Toast

Seeing the neighborhood rise once more is reason enough to celebrate. New ideas and offerings bring an optimistic vibe to Poblacion with Agimat Filipino GastroPub weaving its own colors to the neighborhood's eclectic fabric. Master Mixologist Cedric Cello starts our dining experience with his Pipino't Limon, a soothing blend of freshly squeezed lemons and cucumber with a dash of calamansi for a sparkling libation to open up the palate...

Local Flavors, Global Spin the first course is served. Chef Ramon Antonio reinvents classic Filipino flavors adding a modern global twist with his Lumpia'ng Sariwa (P 250), local fresh spring rolls with vegetables dressed in vegan garlic sauce with a side of gochujang wrapped in house-made crépes and baked with local cheese. Each bite delivers fresh and clean notes from the crisp vegetables, rich sauces and the soft crépe baked with cheese for that finishing touch. Playfully inventive, Chef Ramon transforms familiar flavors into something refreshingly new and different. But Chef Ramon has more tasty surprises up his sleeves...

The Sangig Chicken (P 289 Solo/P 535 Sharing) is Chef Ramon's own take on char-grilled chicken skewers topped with garlic and sangig or local basil served with homemade citrus lemon grass vinegar. Delicately grilled over charcoal, the tender and juicy chicken is finished with lightly charred edges adding rich smoky hints with each bite. 

But it's the nutty garlic and the sweet and savory notes of sangig that adds a subtle yet complex layer of flavor to the delicate and subtle profile of chicken for a perfect match. The use of local ingredients like sangig brings a delectable uniqueness to the dish, complimenting without overwhelming the chicken. 

A dip in the tart citrus lemon grass vinegar completes the flavors with its sharp and contrasting notes. It's a dish that's best paired with a local craft beer to get you in the Poblacion groove.

And at Agimat Filipino GastroPub, you'll be glad to know that they still boast of an impressive collection of craft beer. The refreshingly crisp and smooth Double Dry-Hopped Blonde from Bel Ale Craft Brewery cleanses and soothes the palate with each sip with its vibrant hoppy finish, allowing you to enjoy more of the flavors of the Sangig Chicken for a great pairing. With its extensive selection of craft beer on tap, you'll find that perfect brew with your name on it at Agimat Filipino GastroPub. 

Crispy pork belly is almost mandatory when you talk about about comforting local cuisine, and Chef Ramon does one better with the Crisp Pork Binagoongan (P 599 Solo/P 1,150 Sharing). Thrice-cooked for that lightly crisp and juicy finish, the slab of sliced pork belly is laid over rich ginataang binagoongan with a side of cherry tomato salad. Served with garlic rice, you can upgrade the dish with the Pandan Malagkit "Risotto" (P 80 Solo/P 200 Sharing) for a unique pairing.

The slab of pork is masterfully executed, delivering an audible crunch with every bite releasing an unctuous savory richness. The crunch is both light and delicate, a result of the tedious thrice-cooked process while remaining tender and juicy. The thick brightly colored ginataang binagoongan not only adds color to the dish, the sharp contrasting notes tempers the savory richness of the pork belly for a balanced and smooth finish. 

But what makes this dish really stand out is the Pandan Malagkit "Risotto." Soft and moist with an elegant velvety smooth consistency, the sweet nutty hints of the fragrant pandan comes through adding its own distinct flavor to the dish. True to Chef Ramon's style, the plating of the dish presents contrasting flavors and colors into a canvas for his culinary expression. 

The play on flavors and textures converge like artful brush strokes on the palate, with the crispness of the pork belly and the soft, silky risotto painting bright notes followed by the tartness of the tomatoes and the mildly salty ginataang binagoongan. It's your favorite pork dish, elevated. 

The traditional bistek gets an equally lavish and creative upgrade at Alamat Filipino GastroPub with the Beef Belly Bistek (P 649 Solo/P 1,199 Sharing) featuring 24-hour slow-cooked beef belly simmered in a soy-citrus red wine sauce with caramelized shallots on smooth camote mash. Topped with fresh spring onions, the fork-tender beef belly just melts in your mouth draping the palate with bold beefy notes followed by the soy-citrus red wine sauce for depth.

The shallots bring both bite and sharp contrasting flavors for balance while the camote mash adds that sweet finish to the dish. Despite the elegant plating, there's a sumptuous homestyle feel with this comforting dish. 

Local comforting flavors remain the base for all of Chef Ramon's dishes at Agimat Filipino GastroPub, embellished with global culinary techniques for a more lavish and contemporary expression. And it works. Chef Ramon teases your eyes and palate while bringing you home with familiar flavors. 

The long gentle simmer braised in a rich sauce gives this beef belly that buttery texture. After all, slow cooking still rules. And this dish, with its 24-hour treatment in a slow burning pot just validates it. No short cuts. Chef Ramon's own journey around the world including the long Peruvian coastline to high up in the Andes have given him a global perspective of local cuisine. And it all comes into play at Agimat Filipino GastroPub.  

A cocktail to pair with your meal? Mixologist Cedric Cello has just what you need...

The Tita Sangria with white wine, peach, basil and burnt rosemary is a light and refreshing sangria to soothe your palate, with its bright notes holding up well with the savory mains. The sweetness of the peach with the distinct hints of basil and rosemary combine for a well-thought out plot with the crisp white wine to ease your mind and spirit.  

A gentle sip immerses you in the neighborhood's casual vibe as it reawakens from a lingering pandemic. It's quite liberating to enjoy a tipple outdoors again for that much needed and welcome change of pace. 

Another sip just seals the deal. 

For those looking for deeper, bolder notes, the Tito Sangria with red wine, cardamom and guava should do the trick. 

Tito or Tita? Have both.

Mixologist Cedric Cello has even more refreshing libations from his playbook, let him surprise you on your visit to Agimat Filipino GastroPub.

A few more sips and it's time to finish business with the Beef Belly Bistek. Rice?

The Squid Ink Rice (P 150 Solo/P 350 Sharing) with kamias and chicharon will have going for another bowl. Like the Pandan Risotto, the Squid Ink Rice is a creative twist to the usual, and you'll find many more of that with the new menu at Agimat Filipino GastroPub. 

The new menu at Alamat Filipino GastroPub represents a new culinary philosophy with Chef Ramon Antonio at the helm, from tasty starters... savory mains...

...and rice dishes (for more on the extensive savory new offerings and drinks menu, visit their FB Page at The new menu of Agimat Filipino GastroPub is both uniquely creative and comfortingly familiar, hitting all the right notes as you revisit the neighborhood in this new normal.

Another round for the road? Yes, please. That's how they do it at Poblacion.

Craft Beer For The People

The Poblacion experience just won't be complete without Agimat Filipino GastroPub, and it's good to see the popular dive back staying true to its promise with its wide selection of craft beer, spirits and cocktails. Still on a limited dining capacity as per the latest guidelines, it's remains one of the go-to bars in the neighborhood for a relaxing tipple.

A familiar dive in a new light, the transformative impact of the new normal is here to stay with the old and new all in one place. Things will change, but it's reassuring to see Poblacion slowly reawaken with exciting new flavorful stories from Alamat Filipino GastroPub.  

Alamat Filipino GastroPub is located at the Second Floor, 5666 Don Pedro Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati or call 0906 407 8466 for inquiries. You can also visit their FB Page at for more updates.

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