The Spa Building, Lane P, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City
Open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) The phrase “fine dining” used to evoke thoughts of choosing the wrong fork or spilling red wine on white linen, but today, more restaurants are combining the elegantly prepared dishes you’d expect from a fine-dining establishment with a more laid-back atmosphere. Case in point: Pinot, Chef Markus Gfeller’s new restaurant, hidden behind an unassuming entrance at The Spa building on Lane P.
With warm wood tones and comfy seating, Pinot is warm and inviting—you’ll find it easy to sit back and relax without the stuffy formality you might expect from a fine-dining restaurant. The kitchen works hard to offer modern European food that not only makes an impact with flavor but also with meticulously-done, stylish presentation.
“Around 10 years or so, this lot where Pinot stands used to be [wine bar] CAV,” shares Chef Markus. “We were one of the first fine dining restaurants in the area during its heyday, but everything that is novel eventually becomes normal. So after 10 years, we saw ourselves in a situation where we needed to reinvent. So we closed CAV.”
After 26 years here in the Philippines, Chef Markus, who is also a beloved fixture in the local fine-dining scene, has an important learning in mind when it came to opening his newest restaurant. “It’s not about what you want when you open up a restaurant. You always have to try to figure out what is it that the customer really wants.”
This is why the Pinot menu offers Prix Fixe (fixed price) sets as well as Grand Pieces for sharing for different types of diners who may want variety.
Whether you’re a no-fuss diner who wants a straightforward menu or an adventurous foodie who wants an array of new experiences in a tasting menu, there are Prix Fixe options for you: the 2-Course (P1,500), 3-Course (P1,900) or 4-Course (P2,300).
Appetizers for the Prix Fixe menu include Oyster & Caviar with fresh oysters from Capiz poached in champagne, tapioca, and avruga caviar, and Tuna Crudo Salad with shrimp snow, black sesame, and miso aioli—both bursting with freshness and just a touch of umami.
The Mains for the Prix Fixe menus feature dishes such as the Sea Bass with kale purée and black garlic dashi. Each flaky bite of the fish is enhanced by the subtle aniseed notes of the black garlic sauce—earthy and sweet all at once.
The Duck Ragu with pomelo and coconut adlai is perfectly juicy with the pomelo lending a bright, citrus flavor that mellows out with the bed of creamy coconut milk–stewed adlai. Meanwhile, each bite of the Roasted Lamb Rack is tender and medium-rare, the cumin honey sauce with saffron pumpkin giving a nice sweetness to complement the lamb.
If you’re in the mood to indulge even more, add the Grand Pieces to your tasting course, like the US Ribeye on the Bone (P5,900/good for two to three persons) with béarnaise and red wine sauce, mushrooms and creamed spinach; the Roasted Maple Leaf Duck (P4,900/good for three to four persons) with blackberry coulis; or the Whole Rack of Lamb (P5,900/good for two to three persons), herb-crusted with ratatouille and garlic-potato puree.
For dessert, the Blue Cheese & Grissini is a nice touch to end a full-flavored meal. The crunchy Italian breadstick dipped in a dollop of creamy gorgonzola with fig jam and walnut is quite addicting—consider this fair warning. Those with a sweet tooth might find themselves veering towards the XO Cognac Flan with orange and chocolate bitters—the perfect way to cap off a spectacular meal. The creamy white chocolate flan nestled within a chocolate cradle is a happy ending with every delectable bite.
Pinot’s relaxed atmosphere reflects the comfort level of the man behind it. Chef Markus Gfeller could very well be the most easygoing person in the room at any given time. “We don’t want to intimidate people, we just want to be approachable. I think that’s the best word. Customers should never feel intimidated or worried about using the right fork, you don’t want to put any pressure on the customer. That’s really my take on the whole experience here at Pinot.”
With a laid-back and cozy vibe combined with incredible, elegantly prepared food, this intimate little spot will have you coming back, no stiff upper lip or haughty formality required.
Photos by Jericho San Miguel