You don’t think I could have just five memorable meals during a three-week vacation in Manila, now could you? I saved my favorite for a separate post: Grace Park, Gaita Fores’ newest restaurant at One Rockwell in Makati.
Grace Park gets a post of its own because, well, it’s just so darn photogenic. Embracing bare concrete, beat-up wood and rusted iron seems a bit of a risk for an upscale establishment. But rustic industrial is the new shabby chic, and it’s all about the mix. Grace Park pulls it off with class and flair in its loft-like interior.
I love old Filipino houses, so it warmed my heart to see details like vintage iron grillwork and bricks brought into the mix. Grace Park was named for the residence of Gaita Fores’ paternal grandmother, and seeing these fixtures immediately makes me picture old, stately family homes like those in old and New Manila.
Mismatched cutlery and chairs, vintage brown and green glass tumblers, even repurposed kitchen items create an eclectic and homey feel. I’m totally going to steal this idea of using humble llaneras (cheap aluminum tins with a pretty specific purpose: for making leche flan) as a tabletop container for napkins.
Then there’s the food.
Grace Park claims to be an organic farm-to-table restaurant inspired by the slow cooking recipe. From the menu, I can see that it’s more like Gaita Fores’ greatest hits, with some ingredients sourced from local farms. And that is totally fine with me.
Why would baked chicharon two ways not be totally fine with me? Especially when the crunchy pork crackling is topped with subtly flavored chive mousse, glistening salmon roe and salty prosciutto.
Roasted bone marrow from Pepato, another Fores restaurant, makes a guest appearance here, too.
The savoury Eton mess is new, though. Mommy brain is failing me here, because I can’t seem to remember what was in it. I just remember a rich, creamy texture, pops of salt from the prosciutto (or is it bacon?), and a hint of fragrant truffle.
Oh, the decadence of a daytime tipple. I was feeling the need for a lunchtime cocktail, so I had the Negros Mule—calamansi, ginger, muscovado sugar (presumably from Negros province?) and ginger ale—to start…
and followed up with a non-alcoholic calamansi shake, served in a deceptive tumbler that looks like paper, but is actually heavy ceramic. Love the paper straws too.
After I complained about the Dutch devotion to sandwiches in my last post, here am I ordering a sandwich. What a doofus. But what an interesting sandwich it was: river prawns and scallops on an unapologetically black squid ink bun.
Spaghettini il bianco with Maine lobster—hmm, I’m pretty sure Maine isn’t in the Philippines, so this is where the local, farm-to-table concept doesn’t hold water for me. Still, I’m not complaining. If there’s one thing you can expect to be delicious at a Gaita Fores restaurant, it’s the pasta. And this was superb.
I love it when beautiful interiors and great food meet, don’t you? Manila peeps, which restaurants should I absolutely not miss on my next visit home?