Gotti’s Ristorante

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Away from our usual haunts in Makati, we found ourselves in Megamall with dad and his business partner for a surprise dinner, and with a challenging budget of 300 per head, we decided to take a chance at Gotti’s Ristorante at the Atrium 4th floor.

The place reminds one of the different modern casual dining areas here in the metro, from sleek designs of solid red mixed with pictures of Italians, to the wooden chairs and cushioned leather seats, as well as the restaurant being lit and pleasant to the eye.

 

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Margherita Pizza

So for dinner, we shared a Margherita pizza. Aside from that, I had the Gambino Gamberi, Kat had the Salisbury Steak with rice, and then dad and his business partner had the Grilled Chicken Pesto and Creamy Basil Bacon pasta.

As we see it, one gets their money’s worth here in terms of volume. The pizza was more or less alright with its crisp thin crust sides, the cheese complements the tomato base and I would say, a guilt-free margherita.

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Creamy Basil Bacon Pasta

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Grilled Chicken Pesto

The grilled chicken pesto and creamy basil bacon pasta had well-cooked pasta for both. As for the taste however, I have to say that it’s a little uninspired and too overdone in either creaminess or the oily feel to the tongue. However, these are things that can be improved on in the future.

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Gambino Gamberi

With the Gambino, it’s quite filling and the stone-baked rice meal concept is actually quite interesting, especially in keeping our meal warm. At the same time, I’m quite a sucker for seafood and they cooked this one well enough.

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Salisbury Steak

The Salisbury steak on rice was served piping hot, with enough cheese on top to make the first bites delectable. However a little sauce coating the rest of the dish would not have been amiss. Nevertheless for a solo dish, this was a pretty tasty deal.

There was actually a lot of food left over from the two pastas that we took some home too. That said, if one wants to be full and hang out with friends at a budget, Gotti’s Ristorante is a good place to dine in.

Food Score: 3.5/5. The food here is a testament to the adage you get what you paid for, with decent taste suited for the Filipino palate and decent serving sizes, but there’s some room for improvement with some hits and some misses here and there.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Gotti’s ambiance is pleasing to the eye, from clean lines and welcoming appearance, it’s a treat to dine here every now and then. The servers were quite attentive as well, which is always welcome.

GERD Score: 3/5. One could say that each order of food is for sharing, so it can be a task for someone with heartburn to go at it alone. That said, there are thankfully some good options for selections, but again, for sharing.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. This is a case again of not knowing what exactly goes in the seasonings and flavorings. Unlike some other establishments, diners don’t have as much control over any dietary limitations and modifications to menu items. However there are enough food selections to cater to the preferences and needs for most diners.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. When one puts everything into consideration, Gotti’s Ristorante is a decent place to dine in on a budget, giving value for money with their serving sizes. The place is certainly great to bring some friends in for a casual dining experience. However, for people who have medical conditions such as ours, we believe they can do better.

Food Truck Adventures: Flow

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With the heat and humidity in the Father’s Day event and our heavier-than-usual afternoon snack, some dessert was in order. Fortunately, there was one nearby, a handcrafted ice cream stall by the name of Flow.

Instead of the usual scooped ice cream placed on a cone with a Turkish man wearing a fez playing around before giving you your ice cream, Flow does “stir-fried” ice cream, basically using a cold pan or flat surface to turn a milkshake base of different flavors into the consistency of ice cream, flattening it out, and then scraping it out into rolls, served into a cup.

Their ice cream flavors also have catchy names such as Cookie Maltser to Rock Salt & Cheese. For this dessert trip however, we picked the Tsokolate-ughh and Avocadoe flavors.

The ice cream itself reminds me of an actual rolled-up cinnamon bark, which adds to the overall visual appeal of it. It’s light on the palate and bite, unlike typical ice cream that overwhelm one’s tastebuds in one spoonful sometimes.

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Avocadoe

As far as the Avocadoe goes, I’d have to say that the flavors were a bit too sharp for me and perhaps could be countered with a touch more salt or sugar, a matter of preference in my case. The texture was pleasing to the tongue however and cleans the palate well.

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Tsokolate-ughh

The Tsokolate-ughh on the other hand was bittersweet and a treat because of its tablea-like flavor which we appreciate.The consistency was smooth, making it easy on the tongue.

“Fried Ice Cream” is not a new innovation, however Flow Ice Cream takes it to a more delectable level. We look forward to see what else they’ll be stirring up soon!

Food Score: 4/5. The ‘stir-fried’ ice cream here at Flow is definitely good for an afternoon stroll at the park. With its appeal in both preparation and presentation, one can’t go wrong with it.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. The stall and the people manning it were organized and the cold plate catches the eye well. The ice cream is served promptly, before it has a chance to melt on a hot day.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While dairy is one of my triggers, however it didn’t do as bad on my GERD as I thought it would, just a few burps and was good to go. If dairy isn’t a trigger, by all means, try their ice cream. I do hope they’ll explore the soy milk option later on.

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. Most of the ingredients used for the ice cream are fresh, without additives. Since it doesn’t undergo a long freezing process like most other ice creams, nor is it in ‘soft’ form there are no extra ingredients added to make it ‘gel’ or become light and fluffy enough for spreading on a plate. In short, it’s all good.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Flow hits the mark with its delectable selection of fried ice cream flavors and the ingredients they use to create the ice cream itself. Definitely worth a taste every time they set up shop in different venues.

Food Truck Adventures: Buns & Bros

IMG_4421After watching the 22nd French Film Festival in Greenbelt 3, we decided to go off the beaten track and go for the nearby Father’s Day celebration just around the Power Plant Mall. In the idyllic afternoon sun, lo and behold, we found ourselves in a closed off part of a street with stalls, wooden picnic tables and food trucks around the area serving casual dining delights from Wagyu Cubes to Pizza Cones along with some craft beers on the tap.

For this one however, Kat decided to get her burger fix from Buns & Bros. With quirky names such as The New Kid, The Boss, The Eager Beaver, and the Assassin, and a selection of different buns namely Roasted Black Sesame, Classic Brioche, and Beer, the burgers from this place are an aesthetic wonder making you almost regret eating the burger itself.

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The Assassin

And for this one, she selected the Assassin burger. Made with Angus beef, shredded nori, barbeque wasabi sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and their homemade roasted black sesame buns, each bite spotlights the different flavors and textures making up the burger. The first bite was a wonderful explosion on the tongue, with the savory juiciness of the meat mixing with the kick from the wasabi sauce. One could say we were ‘assassinated’ in the best way.

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That said, one of these days, we might just give their restaurant in Julio Vargas a quick peek soon.

Food Score: 4.5/5. From fresh ingredients to the medium to medium-well done burger meat, the burgers here have to be experienced more than once. The unique combinations of burger toppings as well as homemade buns were definitely worth exploring.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. Even with the confines of a stall, everything was well organized and the staff were quick and attentive.

GERD Score: 4/5. The burger itself doesn’t feel too heavy to the taste buds or to the stomach which lends itself to be eaten leisurely without fear of having one’s heartburn act up. That said, the mantra of chew slowly applies well here.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Not all sauces may be friendly to the very sensitive. Also this is not a place for those with gluten issues. That being said, these burgers are freshly made and free of many additives and extenders

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Buns and Bros is one of the burger joints one should drive all the way out to Pasig to experience, from the freshly made ingredients to how balanced the flavors are, even for people with our conditions.

Buns & Bros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baker Brothers

The smell of freshly baked bread, for most people, is integral to visions of early morning and a hot breakfast. If one smells the fragrance of a hot loaf at sundown, one just might be in the vicinity of Baker Brothers, a tiny bakery at the front of the Cathouse Bar on Doña Carmen Street in Poblacion, Makati. Unlike other bakeries, Baker Brothers is open only from 5pm onwards, making it perfect for night owls, or those who simply do not want to be up at the crack of dawn just to fetch a fresh loaf or two.

We might have passed up on this place had it not been for a sign pointing us to artisan pizzas and freshly baked bread. As usual, where our curiosity leads, the stomach soon follows. It was just as well that when we got here after work on a weekday, it was not quite time for the dinner rush, thus allowing us to peruse the menu and consider our orders. All the pizza selections seemed enticing (especially the Ultimate pizza with Gorgonzola cheese and anchovies), but we eventually decided on the BB’s Calzone filled with cheese, ham and olives, as well as a steak and kidney pie.

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Now our past experiences with calzones had involved middling portions either with a too thick crust, or overstuffed with cheese. This calzone at Baker Brothers was another story altogether: this was a 14 -inch pizza folded in half, served warm with a generous basil garnish. While Lee and I were still wondering how to tackle this delicious behemoth, our steak and kidney pie was brought out. At first glance, it appeared to be just like any other pot pie, comprised of flaky puff pastry. When we cut into it, we were treated to the unmistakable fragrance of gravy and spices, and meat so tender that it easily fell apart. Each bite was a combination of the hearty flavors of the steak and kidneys, as well as the more delicate hints of pepper in the gravy.

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The only thing that was missing? A cold pint of beer to wash all of this down (but alas, we have eschewed alcoholic beverages a long time ago).

Despite the bare-bones dining area and occasional distractions from the TV on the porch, our dinner was enjoyable thanks to the good food and accommodating service. This is one place to consider for a meal before a night shift, or at the very beginning of a pub crawl throughout the labyrinth of Poblacion. If one’s bender doesn’t go all that well, then Bakers Brothers has a great selection of comfort foods to cap off the evening (or early morning).

The Food Score: 5/5: We’ve been converted to eating meat pies thanks to this place. The portions are delicious, ample, and yet not overpowering to more delicate palates.

 

Ambiance/Service Score: 3/5: The dining area is open to the street and rather noisy, thanks to the TV and the adjacent bars, so this may be off-putting to diners wanting a quiet evening. However the service is excellent, and the food is served in a timely fashion and still piping hot from the oven.

 

GERD Score: 3/5: As things are, the food here is meant to be shared because a single order is too large for a single person. And the presence of cheese on the pizzas can be a trigger for some people with heartburn. That said, as long as one shares the meal and minimizes the trigger intake, the meal here can still be enjoyable.

 

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: The pizza selections are friendly in the sense that one can pick ingredients for pizzas. As for the pies, there is always the caveat of not knowing the exact blend of ingredients and spices used, thus some diners may need to take precautions. Though the place is in cooperation with a bar, there are still fruit juices and water available for hydration.
Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: This is not a place for healthy eating, or a glamorous night out. However this definitely a place to go for a hearty dish, or if one just ones something fresh out of the oven at late hours.

Señor Pollo: Winner, winner, chicken dinner?

Almost a year ago, I went on a month long chicken fast because I was sick and tired of the stuff from working in the Middle East, with a few exceptions here and there because of circumstance. By this time however, that wasn’t the case with our dinner as we further expanded into another food place in Poblacion. For this one, we chose to dine at Señor Pollo, which is close to WokBy4900, Lobo, Kite Kebab and Commune.

 

Stepping inside, the place really resembles more of a typical Filipino watering hole than a casual dining place, which is perfect for bringing your friends along for a brewski and some food with stories to tell. The artistic touches here and there contrast the concrete gray, adding a bit of spice and life into the place.

So for dinner, I chose to go with their trademark roast chicken with some tossed salad and cilantro garlic rice for my sides. Kat, on the other hand, chose the two-piece fried chicken with Colombian beans and Mac-and-Cheese.

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Señor Pollo Roast Chicken – Quarter

I have to say quite frankly that I wasn’t enthused with the salad since it was too wet for my preferences. The roast chicken was juicy for the most part which is a good thing for me, perfect with the chimchurri. And the rice added a subtle but good dimension to the salty-sour taste of the chimchurri and the roast chicken.

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2 piece Fried Chicken

The fried chicken on the other hand was a dream: crisp and flavorful on the outside, juicy and subtle on the inside. The gravy, although seasoned with pepper, didn’t overpower the chicken in the slightest. However the sides were on the rather bland side; perhaps we should have gone with something more adventurous like ‘patatas bravas’.

Summing it all up, you get what you paid for here at Señor Pollo. You’d have a decent-sized serving of food for its price. As to liking it, I’d have to say that it’s really a matter of preferences in this case.

For any restaurant suggestions that you’d like for us to try and rate, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us here.

Food Score: 3/5. As food goes, the roast chicken was good and the accompanying dips were decent and alright for adding flavor into the chicken. Unfortunately we had a bit of a stomach bug after this food trip; definitely a major setback.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The place is really a place to hangout rather than as a casual dining place, so it depends on how one goes about it. However it has to be said that the place has good service to take care of your food needs.

GERD Score: 3/5. Unfortunately, since this is Mexican-inspired cuisine, there are bound to be some uses of chili in some of the meals. Also, in the case of the quarter portion of roast chicken, I’d hazard to say that the meal is meant for sharing unless one is really hungry. Thankfully, there are some food and beverage options that can work out for people who are dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 3/5. Once again the problem with very flavorful food is that one has no idea exactly what spices go in it. Diners with sensitive systems may need to go for either the blander food options or eschew this altogether.

Team Glasses Score: 3/5. All things considered, Señor Pollo delivered some hits and some misses in our time there. That said, the place isn’t friendly for people with medical concerns like ours, but is still good for a decent meal.

Señor Pollo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar: Flavors of Negros—and it’s not just inasal!

Where does one go when rain changes one’s plans for a game night? We had that problem several nights ago, when an early evening rainshower foiled our plans for a stroll into Poblacion and left us and two other good friends stuck in Rockwell. Fortunately for us we had espied some places where we could sit for a quiet evening of conversation and the occasional tabletop game, and we decided that Sarsa Kitchen + Bar would fit the bill.

Until our dinner out, most of our experience with Negrense cooking was limited to inasal thanks to the preponderance of restaurants specializing in inasal chicken in the metropolis. We were then happy to find that the menu at Sarsa offered this favorite, as well as an array of other Negrense inspired dishes such as squid pinangat, or Negrense sizzling beef rendang.

What caught our group’s attention was the sisig selection, which we could not resist trying out as a homage to our college lunchtimes centered around this very greasy, spicy meal. Our friends tried out the inasal sisig and the brainy pork sisig (with sriracha sauce), while I went for the tuna sisig cooked with lambanog onions and achuete aioli. Lee finally got a chance to indulge his seafood craving, and asked for grilled prawn skewers with talangka sauce and coconut milk.

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The best surprise about the tuna sisig was the achuete aioli, which lent a flavorful but not overly spicy touch to the fish. Never again will I look at achuete oil the same way again.

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The prawn skewers were a welcome treat since Lee is a sucker for these types of seafood. While his personal preference is to have the prawn meat to have a sweet to salty taste within it, he realize that the prawns’ soft, juicy, and natural flavors complemented the crab fat sauce underneath. Along with an order of rice and it’s definitely a meal one should try and experience at least once during their stay here.

We also had the opportunity to order dessert (in between board games), and we agreed to try the banana tsokolate turon. The tsokolate sauce was good in the sense that it was not overly sweet, but it fell a little short of the tablea flavor we look for in most chocolate dishes.

With all this good food, great service, a relaxed ambiance and excellent company, we did not quite notice time flying by. Definitely this quality makes Sarsa stand out not only as a place for dinner out, but also quite possibly as a place for brunch, or family affairs. Definitely we can recommend this restaurant for anyone wanting good Negrense food, or just Filipino food cooked with a flair.

The Food Score: 4.5/5: One thing about the dishes here is that the blend of flavors is perfect; not one flavor overpowers the other. It’s a balancing act that is difficult to maintain on a plate. However a lot of the foods are on the greasy side, which may not bode well for other people.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: This place is airy, clean, and definitely relaxed for leisurely dining The staff are very polite and accommodating, and service is reasonably fast here.

GERD Score: 4/5. The food portions here are the right amount either to share around or have for yourself. Best part for me is that my little problem did not trigger as badly as I expected it to, if at all.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: The general problem with Filipino food is that it is heavy on gluten and spices, which may really not agree with some diners. Though this place is advertised as a bar, the selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages is broad enough to cater to all tastes and most medical restrictions.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. This restaurant has become a go-to spot for family lunches and dinners, as well as work meetings, or casual nights out with friends. With the food and the ambiance here, we definitely understand why.

Sarsá Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Healthy food for the Filipino Palate: Satinka Naturals

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As a fact of life here in the Philippines, and an inherent irony, is that a good portion of Filipinos don’t consider incorporating vegetables into their diet. Don’t believe me? What are we most known for in terms of food? Some examples are Lechon, Crispy Pata, Sisig, Adobo, and the list piles on and on. Or if one walks to a roadside eatery, we add in pork, beef, or shrimp into the few vegetable viands.

Thankfully there are some exceptions and one of them is Satinka Naturals.

It all started when Kat asked me to surprise her with our dinner pick and the place caught my eye while searching one. Satinka Naturals is found by the corner of Kamagong and Chino Roces / Pasong Tamo in Makati, as both a place to eat, and a place to get organic products for many needs.

The interior reminds one of a rustic home, a mismatched but well-kept and loved Filipino-Spanish home, but with some modern sensibilities to the place. In a word, the place is cosy.

We started our dinner with some Yoga Tea, a mixture of ginger root, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves. While unusual to the Filipino palate, taking a sip of this tea with honey was a delightful experience, especially for me with my discovered preference for adding spices. This also gave me an idea on what to do with the cardamom pods I brought home from Qatar.

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Greek Platter

For the main dinner itself, I ordered a Greek platter and Kat had the Vegan platter. The Greek platter had chicken strips marinated with oregano, paprika and caraway seeds, giving each strip a vibrant flavour with every bite. The spiced beef in tomato sauce and feta cheese helped balance the meal with its bits of acidity from the tomatoes. The accompanying salad and shredded cucumber, as well as the red rice knit these two meat dishes together, creating a memorable meal hands down.

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Vegan Platter

The vegan platter consisted of two types of ‘meatballs’ made with beetroot, carrot, and a mix of other veggies, a marinara dipping sauce, raw ‘zuchinni pasta’ and a garden salad. Now whoever said that vegetables weren’t filling has certainly not encountered this rich meal. The vegan balls were heavy and savory, thus necessitating the other greens to cleanse one’s palate. This meal may be a bit overwhelming for those not used to vegan meals, but it is certainly worth a try.

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Sagada Yogurt with Honey

We ended our night with a small bowl of Sagada yogurt with honey. It was a solid dessert after our hearty dinner here at Satinka Naturals. But if we were to do it again, we would have ordered the pot of tea after the meal to make it an absolutely perfect end to the night.

Food Score: 5/5. Aside from minor nitpicks here and there, we enjoyed the food not only through its taste alone, but also from preparation and presentation to the organic ingredients of our meal. There is a wide selection of entrees and group platters to choose from, all of which use healthy and fresh ingredients. The beverages section can boast of having Sagada Coffee, several types of tea, and craft beer all available. One must never be shy to order.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5. Throughout our stay, it was surprisingly quiet and the hustle and bustle of the outside world didn’t get inside at all. At the same time, their décor, tables, and cushions speaks well of not only their tastes, but also become a place to rest our minds after a long trip around the Metro. Their service is not only attentive, but also quick on their feet in handling anything we needed.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. Surprisingly, even with the large portion and serving, the food here doesn’t trigger my burping at all, which is remarkable in itself. Also, the food is spiced just the right amount, so as not to make it too spicy for people with heartburn / GERD. While there is some alcohol in the vicinity, there’s plenty of beverage options as well.

Epilepsy Score: 5/5. No MSG and artificial flavors! This is cause enough to celebrate. And the vegan meals have no gluten, thus making this a bonus for people sensitive to this substance. The non-caffeinated teas and fresh fruit shakes are excellent too for diners with restrictions due to either their seizures or their medication

Team Glasses Score: 5/5. Our entire dinner here was a great experience because they create great food for diners with health concerns like us.