Since my very first meal in URBN Kitchen & Bar, I knew that their Executive Chef, Benjo Tuason was the real deal. More than anything, it's his versatility that impresses me most. One minute he's delving into oriental dishes, the next thing you know he's whipping up a European delicacy. The next, he's schooling you in classic Pinoy dishes.
The man simply refuses to keep his culinary talents in a box, and is unafraid to explore flavors and dishes from around the world. When Rina and I were graciously invited to Chef Benjo's newest baby, Nest Modern Table and Bar, I knew we were in for yet another mouth watering evening of food and fun!
Nest is perched on the roofdeck of W building on 5th Avenue Cor. 32nd St. at Bonifacio Global City. The altitude makes using an Al Fresco setting a no brainer, and at the same time, helps set Nest apart from other dining experiences.
Nest is a few steps away from one of Manila's newest Super Clubs, "RAVEN", offering guests a more serene place to hang out or pre-game. Perhaps "Serene" is pushing it a little, but definitely a quieter ambiance from the booming bass filled Raven.
Apart from dynamite food, Nest offers a whole slew of signature cocktails that customers can choose from.
The Chunky Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup with Naan Bread (P150) was remarkably hearty, especially when you consider that it didn't have meat in it. It was definitely chunky, but packed with flavor, and the soup made a great dip for the tasty Naan Bread.
Afterwards, Chef Benjo brought out his take on the classic breakfast dish, Ham & Eggs. Of course with Chef Benjo being Chef Benjo, he had to take it to a whole new level entirely. The "Ham" in question are paper thin strips of Jamon Serrano, while a poached egg lays on a bed of char grilled asparagus, edame and green pea salad, and garnished with Parmesan cheese shavings.
There are times when I adamantly declare that I do not care for a certain food, and suddenly, a specific dish manages to get me re-thinking my stand. One such dish is the Foie Gras & Mushrooms (P550). I don't eat anything that has to do with an animals innards, but I couldn't help but enjoy the richness of the Foie Gras, that is given a delicate creaminess by the Poached Egg. The Parmesan and Balsamic give a nice contrasting flavor, while the crunchiness of the croutons adds a nice texture to the bite.
Right off the bat I'm going to warn you. You will find the Buffalo Chicken Popcorn (P220) incredibly addicting. You will tell yourself that you're ok wih two or three nuggets, but the next thing you know you're having a fork duel with your companion for the last piece. Juicy cutlets of chicken are glazed in a Buffalo sauce that, much to my delight isn't overly spicy or acidic. The sauce is balanced beautifully, and goes well with the bleu cheese dressing, whose pungent taste is also very subdued.
The Spiced Sweet Potato Fries (P200) is one of those dishes that is a tad too spicy for my taste buds, but those very same buds demanded I solider on. The thin slices of sweet potatoes were cooked to a softness, and topped with delectable Crispy pork, and topped with a Sriracha Aioli that gave a strong kick of heat.
I have no doubt that my friend Grace, from A View From The Leftie would be in tears when she sees the Fillet of Salmon (P650) of Nest. A juicy Norwegian Salmon fillet that had a great crispiness in its skin, and served with Grilled Leeks, a unique Black Yakemeshi, and resting in a pool of Roe and Miso Sake Sauce.
I was a little concerned when I saw the char marks on the Roast Chicken Supreme (P280). The funny part was, those same char marks had a nice caramelization to it, making it one of the best parts of the chicken, to go with the moist meat.
The Rack of Lamb (P950) was truly a sight to behold. The mouth watering rack of lamb, seemed to sparkle as it basked in it's Herb and Mustard Glaze, and it's own juices. The lamb went perfectly with the Smoked Eggplant and Glazed Zucchini garnish. The price may sound a little steep but this can easily be shared by two people (provided of course, that one of those people is not named "Richie").
And the award for the best Bang for the Buck dish at Nest is... The 5 Spiced Roast Pork Belly (P250)! Make no mistake about it, the Rack of Lamb is a must try, but this dish, when taking price and taste into consideration, this is the absolute winner. Thick cut slices of delicious Kurobota Pork Belly, doused in a flavorful sauce, and resting on a bed of Soy and Garlic Noodles, and garnished with a Sesame Cucumber Relish. I honestly hate cucumbers so I pretty much pushed the relish aside, but the noodles were a wonderful compliment to the melt in your mouth savoriness of the pork.
Words cannot express the elation in the eyes of my wife when the Chocolate Textures (P200) was brought to our table. A rather unique dessert consisting of layers of Chocolate Marquise and Fudge Brownies, with a touch of Rasberry Coulis for a bit of sweetness, and topped with thinly sliced fresh Strawberries.
Although I did enjoy the Cronut craze, I still felt that a preference to those deep fried sugar donuts that you can find in those small unassuming bakeries. For me, the Donuts and Dips (P200), pays homage to that comforting dessert treat.
The punched out fried donut holes are dusting in sugar, and served with a selection of dips, including Peanut Butter Cream, Salted Caramel and Strawberry Jam. My favorite turned out to be the "Peanut Butter Cream", but it didn't have the nuttiness I was expecting. In fact, I didn't realize it was peanut butter when I first tried it.
Even the Reese's Sansrival (P200) didn't taste so "Peanut-Buttery" to me, but that doesn't mean it wasn' delicious. That Peanut Butter Cream, mixed with the smearing of Chocolate Ganache worked well when eaten together, however my own problem was the wafer sandwiched between them was served frozen, making it incredibly hard to slice through. Other than that though, it was delicious.
It's great to have a place such as Nest Modern Table and Bar to add to the growing number of drinking and dining spots in Bonifacio Global City.
I like the fact that as a guy that isn't really into the whole nightlife scene but loves to eat, Nest is a great compromise for me and my friends who on the other hand, loves to drink.
NEST Modern Table & Bar
NEST Modern Table & Bar
(Click to enlarge)