Asian bar chow is your new favorite beer pairing
Chef Rainier Barbers adds Asian-inspired pub grub to complement Reserve's popular sushi rolls.
Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) We admit that we first balked at Reserve's new moniker. "Gastropub" is a popular tag these days, especially for bars who claim they also serve food decent enough for an actual meal and not just for soaking up alcohol. The "gastrotavern" is an obvious spin-off, and we wonder if the attempt at individuality is worth the effort.
But, the fact is, Reserve Gastrotavern does have a serious chef behind it. Paris-trained executive chef and partner Rainier Barbers conceptualized the initially casual-European menu, executed (quite exceptionally, we must add) by sous chef Luis Isorena. Recently, Chef Rainier extended the line-up with some Asian-inspired dishes.
"Reserve has always been known for our sushi rolls which became popular in our original Pasig branch," Chef Luis shares. "I think the Asian additions tie the menu together quite nicely."
It's not a gastrobar. It's not a gastropub.
It's a gastrotavern.
You will agree if you begin your meal with the Shrimp Tacos (P340). Battered and fried shrimps are tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, complemented by a piquant aioli, crunchy raw cabbage, and a ripe mango salsa. Perfect for a light lunch or a starter to share, its tropical flavors would work wonderfully on a muggy day.
The Kimchi Fries (P510) is a tad sweet and would perhaps benefit from an additional helping of fermented cabbage, but conceptually, it works. The NYOG or Not Your Ordinary Gambas (P520) introduces sausage to the traditional medley of shrimps sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Crispy pita chips on the side add a nice texture, and work as effective edible spoons.
Reserve's sushi rolls are popular with good reason, and their TD Roll (P240), which stands for Tuna/Dulong, is a winner. The dulong contributes crunch and flavor, while the Sriracha dressing paints a Southeast Asian shade to what would otherwise be the usual spicy tuna maki. It totally works.
Asian BBQ Pizza
Their pizzas also get the Asian treatment. The Asian BBQ Pizza (P480) is drizzled with a thick hoisin sauce, which goes famously well with the scallions and shiitake mushrooms. The crust might benefit from a few more minutes in the oven, but the flavors are definitely worthy of some attention.
Beef Short Rib with Kimchi Rice
Fans of Crispy Pata (P880) will be happy with Reserve's version: Its skin is thin and crisp, while the meat is juicy. Brawny eaters, however, shouldn't pass up on the hefty Beef Short Rib (P950), which falls off the bone. It is accompanied by a heaping serving of kimchi rice, which is absolutely stellar.
Maltesers Ice Cream
For those who need to end their meal on a sweet note, the chef makes sure to have some homemade Maltesers ice cream on hand. The texture is creamy and the flavors resonate the candy's malty, chocolate character.
The lounge-y interiors are designed for evening soirées and get-togethers with friends, but the dishes are made for sharing, which also makes Reserve ideal for a family lunch. Thirsty urbanites can come as early as 4 p.m. for their happy hour which lasts until 7 p.m. from Sundays to Thursdays. The mezzanine is perfect for an intimate celebration, or you can book the whole venue for a corporate event. So, yes, Reserve is indeed a gastrotavern—one that will make sure you leave with a good buzz and a happy tummy.
Reserve also has a branch at Citigolf, Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig City.
Photos by Hans Fausto