CHECK IT OUT: Rye Tasting Room at Il Ponticello, Valero Street, Makati
A "speakeasy" inside one of the city’s most reliable night spots
Rye Tasting Room at Il Ponticello
Unit 203 2/F Antel Corporate Center, 121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Contact: 553-9971, 994-9512
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) We all have to grow up sometime, says the stern, adult voice in our head. While most of us did, so did Il Ponticello, the Italian restaurant-slash-night haunt where many of us discovered that "shots" are not just injections you get from your pediatrician.
With new owners came renovations and a menu revamp, wherein executive chef Panky Lopez introduced Instagram-worthy dishes such as the Carbonara Lasagna, among many other Italian-classics-with-a-twist. The new Ponti is the sexy, grown-up version of its former self-something that both old(er) regulars and the younger set can both appreciate.
But that was just the first part of their transformation. Recently, Ponti's owners unveiled the Rye Tasting Room-the former smoking bar area which has been converted into both shrine and sanctuary where they can enjoy their poisons of choice. Based on the wall installations showcasing casks and bottles, the guys seem to currently favor single-malt whisky.
Co-owner Fro Oliva shares that although they offer more "serious" liquor that commands a higher level of appreciation, "we want it to be made more accessible and less intimidating." Another partner, Adrian Tecson, is the anointed "Master of Malt" and will be on hand to assist curious novices as well as host whisky-tasting events. Aside from catering to young newbies, they also just want to provide aficionados a more relaxed and fun venue where they can partake of these fine spirits.
Aside from single malts, Rye has called upon New York's master mixologist Enzo Lim (of Manhattan's Maharlika Restaurant, among others) to come up with more mature cocktail mixes. Don't panic, the quintessential blue drink, Azzuri, is still on the menu. But, for those looking for something different, Lim's Spicy Bastard is the sophisticate's punch-bourbon, tropical juices, ginger, and spices. He serves it in a flower vase-like vessel to be enjoyed by you and three thirsty friends.
With the dim and decidedly masculine space comes a food menu tailor-made for a night of boozing. Co-owner Steve Magdaraog explains each dish to us and how the dishes were picked to go well with alcoholic beverages.
Seared Spiced Tuna Loin
The seemingly light-footed Seared Spiced Tuna Loin (P490) comes off as health-conscious and "diet-y," but the blackened exterior provides bold flavors that rivals its heartier counterparts. Of course, bacon lovers would beg to differ, and the Dry-cured Roasted Bacon Slab (P420) is there to keep them happy.
The Prawn Gambas (P460) is a sure bestseller, but what almost stole the show was the Brick-oven Spiced Butter Roast Chicken (P520). Perfectly seasoned and moist, fragrant with herbs and garlic, half a chicken is almost not enough.
However, we had to make space for the Ribeye Steak Chop (P2,200)-medium-rare goodness on a wooden board, served with three kinds of sauces. All it really needed was a sprinkling of herbed salt and a side order of their cheesy, creamy Cauliflower Gratin (P185).
Tennessee Chocolate Marble "French Toast" and Butter Maple Bourbon Milkshake
The dessert menu may be short and sweet, but as Polonius attests, "brevity is the soul of wit." What had us quoting Shakespeare was the Butter Maple Bourbon Milkshake (P190), which stands alone but also goes perfectly in tandem with the Tennessee Chocolate Marble "French Toast" (P290).
After dinner, whisky expert Tecson gave us a sample of their single-malt flights. We were given tasting portions of their Glenlivet variants from 12 to 21 years, as well as a few of their Japanese single malts on hand. Aside from whisky, they also offer flights of other spirits including gin and vodka. The mood is kept light and easy, a welcome departure from staid cigar rooms and their stuffy, older clientele.
Despite the grown-up revisions, Rye Tasting Room still comes with Ponti's signature spirit of fun. The music may be toned down for the dining crowd, but we're pretty sure it gets pumped up when the mood calls for it.