New Restaurant Alert: Poulet Manille at SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City
There's nothing chicken about this restaurant.
LG/F SM Aura Premier, 26th Street corner McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) If you're not convinced that Filipinos love chicken, then all you have to do is to step inside a mall and look at all the restaurants that list it as their specialty. Poulet Manille joins this not-so-poultry—sorry, not-so-paltry category, yet it manages to stand out.
“Poulet Manille is a concept where we wanted to push a healthier option for chicken,” says Chandra Mercado, one of the owners. “We wanted to create a more wholesome, more healthy way to enjoy chicken. But it doesn’t mean that healthy has to be boring or tasteless.”
There's something Mediterranean about the look.
Poulet Manille is run by the Restaurantology Group composed of Chandra and Chef Tom Hines, who are also behind concepts Catch, Hooch, Smith, and Ebeneezer’s. The restaurant uses a French rotisserie, which the owners felt should dictate the place’s ambience, hence, Poulet Manille’s French farmhouse feel. They use an organic, free-range, French breed from Pamora Farms, as well as biodynamic organic vegetables from Down to Earth. Everything is sourced locally as much as possible, in line with the restaurant’s goal to stay local and sustainable.
“People think that if it’s imported, it’s much better. I don’t actually really believe that. Maybe [just] for some items,” Chandra says.
Seared Tuna Nicoise
The restaurant has a fairly short but varied menu. The Seared Tuna Nicoise (P350)—line-caught tuna, mesclun, French beans, quail egg, tomato, artichoke, and bound roots citrus vinaigrette—is a nice, light starter. “If you want something that’s not too chicken-y or you want something different, that’s a nice option for you,” Chandra says. Though the dressing is on the sweet side, the sashimi-grade tuna is breaded so that it’s crisp on the outside, but still beautifully raw on the inside.
Country Chicken Liver Pate
Nothing says French like the Country Chicken Liver Pate (P290), served with wild berry coulis and country baguette. “Liver pate is one of those dishes that is underrated. It’s actually very tasty; it’s got a comfort food feel to it. We actually serve it in our other restaurants as well.”
Your chicken, your way.
Poulet Manille is, after all, all about the chicken. Their chickens come in two sizes, P798/whole, P498/half, available in four different ways. The French Country Classic Chicken—house chicken with amber butter—is densely packed and quite juicy, with just enough spices to allow the diner to concentrate on the chicken itself. It’s delicious enough to be eaten on its own, though pairing it with the gravy served on the side adds another dimension to its flavor. Besides, who can resist gravy?
The Peri Peri Chicken, or African-inspired roast fowl, is coated with an extremely spicy piri-piri sauce. You’ll need a high tolerance for heat if you want to try this. There's also the Poulet’s Truffle Chicken, or house chicken with truffle essence, and the Southwest BBQ Chicken, with a root beer reduction said to be “tangy with a spicy espresso kick.” There's enough variety to develop a regular clientele.
“The brining is the secret. It gives it the nice texture,” Chandra shares. “For the parts usually dry out while roasting, like the breasts, we found that that is the best way to produce something healthy, tasty, and not oily.”
Each order of chicken comes with a selection of side dishes, with extra ones costing P60. “Of course, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, they’re a staple here in the Philippines; the Cream of Wild Spinach is a favorite, and we went with Mixed Biodynamic Vegetables to go with our healthy feel—it’s more a wholesome and eco-friendly way,” Chandra says. Aside from the ones mentioned, Poulet Manille also offers Broccoli and Toasted Almonds, Pommes Frites (a.k.a. french fries), Fragrant Jasmine Rice, and Roasted Garlic Rice, all great when paired with chicken.
Not all the chicken dishes are roasted. Poulet Manille has an ever-changing array of specials that include Coq Au Vin (P520)—chicken simmered in red wine with button onions and lardons of bacon, and Polynesian Chicken Curry (P520) served with pilaf rice.
Watermelon Ginger Cooler (P125)
Norwegian King Salmon
The restaurant acknowledges that not everyone is a fan of chicken, so it also offers non-fowl mains. The Norwegian King Salmon (P690), served with spinach and lemon risotto, is a safe but delicious bet. Hardcore meat eaters can also choose from the Slow Braised Lamb Shank (P690), served with roasted eggplant and creamy mashed potato; and the Entrecote with Pommes Frites (P998/300 grams)—rib-eye steak and bearnaise sauce.
Double Chocolate Gateau
Don’t leave without dessert. “We make it ourselves, which gives it a homemade, country [vibe],” Chandra explains. “Some people actually come here just for dessert and coffee and just sit here for a while, we want them to feel that it’s very cozy and friendly.” The Creme Brulee (P120) and the Double Chocolate Gateau (P298) go very well with a cup of Pressed Coffee (P90). The brulee is your typical custard topped with hard caramel, the burnt sugar surface breaking to reveal soft, vanilla-flavored custard underneath. The gateau is densely packed with chocolate, a delicious dessert for sharing or a substantial snack for one.
Photos by Sandra Dans