Saturday, June 10, 2023

Burgers X Tales: The Liquid Concept PH X PanDeMic Burgers MNL Collab at UnFrench Bistro

A unique and creative dinner pairing inspired by the ubiquitous burger and a masterful collaboration with one of the country's leading duo of mixologists is one of those memorable feasts you just can't pass up. It's Burger X Tales at UnFrench Bistro...

Chef Michelle Adrillana brings PanDeMic Burgers MNL and Liquid Concept PH together for a memorable one night only pairing unlike any other at UnFrench Bistro. Imagine your usual burgers reinterpreted and transformed into starters and mains along with courses with distinctive Asian notes complemented by soothing cocktails. It's an imaginative concept showcasing culinary creativity in both the kitchen and bar in one memorable evening. 

Fresh and boldly innovative, the Burgers X Tales pairing menu reinterprets the popular staple in ways you just don't expect. Then again, it's the playfully inventive twists that makes Chef Michelle's culinary creations at UnFrench Bistro part of the unique dining experience.  

The wittingly named PanDeMic Burgers MNL is one of Chef Michelle's own culinary concepts established during the long days of the quarantine. The brand, with its smart play on her nickname "Mic" becomes the base for an eight-course dinner paired with the equally creative cocktails of Larry and Sharleen Guevarra of Liquid Concept PH

And the stage is set at UnFrench Bistro for burgers reimagined in a lavish eight-course cocktail pairing menu by Chef Michelle, Larry and Sharleen one Friday evening (for more on UnFrench Bistro, see my previous posts Untraditional, Unconventional and Totally Unexpected. At UnFrench Bistro... from January this year, Unclutter Your Lunch with The Bistro Set Lunch at UnFrench Bistro on their sumptuous Lunch Set Menu from four month ago and Flavorful Encounters at UnFrench Bistro from April this year).

Innovators constantly pushing the envelope, Chef Michelle, Larry and Sharleen takes diners to exciting yet uncharted territory with a refreshed perspective on pairings redefining burgers and cocktails. Highlighted by their respective expertise, personal styles and creativity, the Burger X Tales collab by PanDeMic Burgers MNL and Liquid Concept PH at UnFrench Bistro combines both traditional and unconventional expressions of the popular burger with handcrafted cocktails in an elegant progression of flavorful spins. At the end of the eight-course pairing menu, one's appreciation for the popular burger grows even more with the inventive and even unexpected renditions of Chef Michelle in true UnFrench Bistro style. And the cocktail creations by Liquid Concept PH completes the experience. 

At the bar, the arsenal of Liquid Concept PH from Destileria Limtuaco is on full display giving guests an idea on the special concoctions prepared for the evening's pairing... Larry pours the first batch of cocktails...

...with the finishing touches applied by Sharleen.

Our Burger X Tales pairing experience at UnFrench Bistro began with the UnFrench 75 with Chinese herbal wine or shoktong as the base with Liquid Concept PH getting right into the UnFrench groove. Inspired by the classic French 75, the UnFrench 75 is garnished with aromatic rosemary and edible gold leaf. The sweet herbal and floral finish opens up the palate for the first course in the Burger X Tales pairing...

...with the Cheeseburger Soup, a silky smooth, thick cheesy and creamy dish topped with a juicy meatball and fried gherkin served with a side of crisp tomato crostini. Each soothing sip warms the palate like a comforting hug with its creamy richness tempered by the fried gherkin and a bite of the tomato crostini.

Off the bat, Chef Michelle hits it off the field with an unexpected first course that's refreshingly different yet comfortingly familiar. And unexpected. 

For the second course, Chef Michelle treats the palate with the distinctive notes of her Vegetarian Cheeseburger Salad cleansing the palate with its fresh and clean notes. Cheese and onions with a mildly sweet dressing is reminiscent of that "special sauce" slathered on your favorite burger to complement the medley of garden-fresh greens and vegetables including mushrooms. It's the "special sauce" inspired dressing that ties everything together, with subtle hints from banana ketchup giving this salad a distinctly local finish.

The deep nutty notes of mushrooms and crunchy croutons add textural contrasts to a hearty salad, with the richness of the dressing with bold hints of onions completing the dish. Creative and inventive, the soup and salad inspired by burgers sets the tone for the rest of the evening's pairing menu.

The Vegetarian Cheeseburger Salad is paired with the butterfly blue pea infused vodka blended with lychees and aloe vera, the aptly named Under The Sea. Light and refreshing, the addition of aloe vera adds a delectable smoothness and mild sweetness to the cocktail to complement the salad.

Chef Michelle then draws inspiration from Indian flavors with her Panipuri, a round hollow deep-fried flatbread served with sweet and sour sinigang-infused tamarind sauce, herb water, ground beef and potato purée.

Just like the popular Indian street food, simply poke a hole in the crisp panipuri and fill it up with the different ingredients enjoyed in one bite. The tart sinigang-infused tamarind sauce cuts through the richly seasoned ground beef for balanced flavors mellowed by the herb water and completed by the crunch of the panipuri

The Panipuri is paired with the French Martini with a local twist, a vodka-based cocktail blended with pineapple and dragon fruit sweetened by pandan syrup garnished with edible flowers. The tart sweetness cleanses the palate with its refreshing lingering notes...

...pairing well with the Panipuri. Next, Chef Michelle tempts the palate with an eastern-inspired vegetarian dish packed with solid flavors...

...with the Vegetarian Beetroot and Cauliflower Hummus served with yogurt and pita. Like a burger, fill the pita with the vegetarian hummus topped by a generous slather of yogurt.

Boldly seasoned with spices, the sharp notes of the hummus are smoothened by the yogurt for a savory burger-like finish. At UnFrench Bistro, Chef Michelle's unrestrained approach to real flavors is highlighted with this dish.

The dish is paired with the Salamankero, a lambanog-based cocktail with its own mystical spell with lemon and sweet syrup. Almost like a Caipirinha, the Salamankero (the local term for sorcerer or magician) is a mildly sweet libation with a potent kick to pair with the bold flavors and aggressive notes of the vegetarian hummus. 

For the fifth course, Chef Michelle highlights Thai Flavors with her Salmon Fishcakes in between slices of aubergine laid on thick and creamy curry sauce. The dish takes inspiration from her frequent travels abroad and her favorite Thai fish curry, recreated in her own style. Masterfully executed, the butter-like texture of the Salmon Fishcakes pair well with the subtle sweetness of the aubergine while the curry sauce seals the delectable play on textures and flavors.

The Salmon Fishcake course is paired with the timeless and enduring Old-Fashioned made with Old Captain Rum as the base spirit instead of whiskey with lambanog and pandan... complement the dish with its deep and gentle smoky hints followed by a zesty sweetness from the orange peel and pandan. Five courses done and the pairings build on lavish notes in an elegant progression of flavors and textures. 

The Croissant Burger served in a brown paper bag and torn to reveal the dish is one of those playful touches by Chef Michelle for a unique dinner pairing experience. A crisp and flaky croissant with juicy and savory meatballs from PanDeMic Burgers MNL draped in a rich foie gras sauce with Japanese pears is another creative take on the classic burger. Each bite delivers bold notes complemented by the buttery croissant with the Japanese pears adding that tart sweetness for a mix of contrasting yet balanced flavors. 

The Croissant Burger is paired with the Mango Blanco, a vibrant tropical blend with mango jam, dehydrated mango balls, lemon and bitter gourd with its sharp sweetness to cleanse the palate. One more sip of the Mango Blanco and you're ready for another bite of the Croissant Burger.

The main course is then served. The PDM Burger with its thick slab of juicy beef on crisp lettuce topped with cheese and onions on a soft sesame seed brioche bun is a purist's burger. Uncomplicated, straightforward and unpretentious, the PDM Burger topped with a fried gherkin is an honest rendition of a classic burger with no need for unnecessary bells and whistles. 

The buttery softness of the bun, the bold beefy notes of the burger and the fresh and clean notes of the lettuce and tomatoes capped by cheese is as good as it gets. Deceptively simple, the PDM Burger hits all the right notes. The beef is the obvious star, with juicy notes draping the palate with a lingering richness. Just perfect.

The PDM Burger is paired with the Manille Basil Smash, one of Liquid Concept PH's bestsellers in Manille Beach Bar El Nido. Light and refreshing, it's the right cocktail for the savory richness of the PDM Burger.

For the eighth and final course, Chef Michelle served her own take on the classic S'Mores laid on strawberry sherbet for the perfect sweet ending.

Along with the dessert, the Merci Cacao chocolate based cocktail ended the Burgers X Tales pairing dinner at UnFrench Bistro on a high note. From starters to mains and dessert, the PanDeMic Burgers MNL and Liquid Concepts PH collab is a seamless culinary journey of flavors by Chef Michelle, Larry and Sharleen for one of the most unique pairing dinners yet. It's events like this that keep UnFrench Bistro high on anyone's list with more exciting collaborations planned in the pipeline. Keep an eye out for more creative collabs on their FB Page and expect the unexpected at UnFrench Bistro...

UnFrench Bistro is located at the Ground Floor of 81 Xavier Residences, San Juan, Metro Manila. You can also visit their FB Page at and IG Feed at unfrenchbistro for more information and updates.

For more on PanDeMic Burgers MNL, visit their FB Page and IG Feed at and for updates.

For more on Liquid Concept PH, visit their FB Page and IG Feed at and for more information and updates.

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