New Restaurant Alert: Olive Tree Kitchen & Bar
After The Goose Station, Chef Rob Pengson does Italian, and does it well, at his newest restaurant.
Olive Tree Kitchen & Bar
B4, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, BGC Taguig
Tel. No.: 823-0366
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and 11 a.m. to late night from Thursday to Saturday
(SPOT.ph) The sign is up and inside, the lights are on, but with glass walls all draped with paper, the Olive Tree Kitchen & Bar seems like it's not yet open for operations. On the contrary, it is and it has been, but only those who are brave enough to ask and call to reserve have had the pleasure of indulging in what it has to offer. On our visit, only a third of the menu was on print and available, but we’ve got high hopes for what’s to come.
Smoked Pumpkin and Maple Bacon Bruschetta
With wine and tapas bars like Barcino and Las Flores gathering crowds, chef Rob Pengson decided to go a slightly different route and head to Italy for inspiration. Along with former student and now OTKB head chef Jonvic Mangibin, he composed a menu with a range of antipasti and a line of creative beverage concoctions to match that. The variety of bruschettas is a perfect example of what two great culinary minds can produce. The Smoked Pumpkin and Maple Bacon Bruschetta (P225), for instance, makes a playground out of your mouth as it offers a wonderful marriage of textures, varying from crunchy to creamy. A dollop of smooth pumpkin puree is topped with a fatty piece of ham and caramelized onions, then crowned with micro greens. The smoky flavor is subtle but nonetheless felt and pairs well with the sweetness from the maple glaze and the rather weak yet still welcome kick from the pepperoncini peppers.
Chicken Liver Bruschetta
The Chicken Liver Bruschetta (P225) is also a standout. Chicken livers are sautéed and crumbled to a smooth and light consistency, retaining some body and ending up not like pate but more of foie gras in texture. It is generously topped on baguette slices along with bacon bits then finished off with a balsamic drizzle, making for an appealing balance of sweet and salty. It has a punchier flavor than the pumpkin bruschetta, which becomes even more pronounced when enjoyed with a glass of red wine. What's also noteworthy is the toast that this medley of ingredients sits on. The bread retains a toothsome bite and doesn't rally on being rock hard or soggy. Plus, there are five pieces to an order, giving you enough bites to satiate and duly appease your appetite.
Fresh Ricotta antipasto
The Fresh Ricotta antipasto (P170) is a beautiful plate that simply lets the ingredients shine through. The base of the dish is homemade ricotta cheese, painted with the bold colors of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and roasted cherry and heirloom tomatoes, and a stroke of emerald green from the pine nut pesto. Oven-dried grapes and a swirl of reduced balsamic vinegar round off the tartness of the fruits. The cheese brings everything together by providing a creamy canvass that highlights the ingredients' natural flavors.
For the entrees, Chef Mangibin turned to traditional Italian fare and put his own spin to it, like the Chicken Diavolo (P400), the sauce of which he learned from a 90-year old nonna back when he was still residing and working in Australia. In writing, it sounds like a typical Sunday roast but you'll think otherwise soon as you examine how it is prepared. Half a chicken is brined then sous vide cooked for 24 hours, resulting to juicy meat that tears off the bone with barely any fork prodding. The cloak it wears is no tangy tomato sauce. Prepared with juniper berries and anise, it initially gives off sweet notes, but seconds after, the spice will then slap you on the face. The first bite might turn you off but then your dismay will soon turn to curiosity and drive you to go through the whole delightful experience once more. If you can't handle the heat, you can tame it with the pool of creamy smoked pumpkin risoni or the tart slaw the dish comes with.
The restaurant formally opens on September 26 and by then, the menu will be complete-expect over a dozen antipasti and more pastas, pizzas and straightforward mains to choose from. There will also be a blackboard menu where the chefs get to play with different ingredients, staking the claim even further on their free style cuisine. A lot of their items are made from scratch including their meat jus, mozzarella cheese and ketchup. And the dishes are teeming with hearty flavors, like the Sunday Gravy (P390) which has ox tail, tripe, sweetbreads and blood sausage in the ragu, and the Zampone, pig's trotter stuffed with chicken, smoked mushroom, and pork mousse. Looks like OTKB has pulled out all the stops, coming up with dishes that are well thought out.
Photos by Angelo Comsti