MANILA, Philippines – Despite looking like a shocking slab of charcoal on top of a Belgian waffle that’s gently bathed in homemade maple syrup, the black fried chicken of Grind Bistro, an all-day restaurant at the Net Park Building in BGC, is a celebration of what “delicious” is all about.
This dish is deceiving, I must admit. After the initial judgment, it redeems itself as the black fried chicken, tinted with squid ink mixed in tempura batter, proves to be a tender deal — crackling at first bite, sumptuous the next, and heaven all throughout. This chicken-and-waffle dish is served with Bourbon burnt-butter ice cream — homemade, by the way — so the taste buds are endlessly teased by sweet and savory flavors. You burp. End of story.
Wait. There’s more at this over 200-sqm American restaurant, which started to serve only burgers, shakes and fries when it opened a year ago. Now its menu reads like a scripture of good food. On top of that, Grind Bistro, which has another branch at SM Aura, makes its own bread, butter and beer. And yummy ice cream, too.
“We named it Grind because we make everything from scratch,” says Cristina Imperial Carl, owner of the restaurant and a sommelier, as well. “Our beef is always US beef and everything else is local. We source from small local farmers around the Philippines.”
As Cristina explains it, her American husband, Steven Carl, proudly serves a Double-Double burger with two patties thinly separated by bacon strips, lettuce and slices of tomato and onion. “It’s a monster but it’s good,” says Steven, owner and resident chef of Grind Bistro.
I turn to my best friend Christine, a certified burger lover, for her verdict. She says, “Steven is correct to say that Double-Double is a ‘monster.’ He is wrong in ‘good.’ It is, in fact, very good. The bread bun is soft. The patties are juicy and tasty.”
If the Double-Double is too overwhelming for you, opt for the Slider Trio, which has a mini-Grind burger, pulled pork sandwich and black chicken in a bun.
The Naughty Eggs Benedict — with homemade chorizo, poached eggs, mesclun salad, arugula and Sriracha hollandaise — melts in the mouth. Heavenly, too, is the Popcorn Shrimp, coated in tempura batter with unagi sauce and wasabi aioli. Ditto for the lip-smacking Pork Quesadilla with sour cream and pico de gallo.
The Rib-eye Steak at Grind, aged for 25 days, is salt-seasoned to perfection; it’s a meat-lover’s perfect date. Balance it with the refreshing Laguna Farmer’s Salad with crispy lollo rosa, romaine, carrot wedges and kesong puti.
The pancetta in Truffled Penne Carbonara, served al dente and hot, is the best Italian bacon this side of the city. The three strips of bacon are not enough. The friendly staff will anticipate your craving and put three more pancetta strips on your table if you so wish.
The Poke Nachos starter, served like a bouquet with crispy taro and sweet potato wedges, comes with ahi tuna marinated in soy, chili and sesame, local chevre (goat cheese), orange and wasabi tobiko (fish roe) and pico de gallo. Bite into a wedge and taste a delicious orchestra in your mouth. This is a must-order at Grind Bistro.
Your gustatory excursion is not complete until you sample the Ube Leche Flan (not good for sharing if you’re a yam lover like me) or the playful S’mores and Hot Cocoa, which is a delightful serving of toasted marshmallow with vanilla ice cream and chocolate feuillitine.
Grind Bistro is not your usual grind. I began my experience with awe and ended it with a joyful, satisfied tummy. I will come back. The black fried chicken on a single waffle is inviting me again.
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Grind Bistro is at 4th and 5th Avenues, Net Park Building, Crescent Park West, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For reservations, call 946-3870 or 0956-889-8348. The SM Aura branch can be reached at 772-8218.