Bistro Manuel - a hidden gem in Poblacion, Makati

Bistro Manuel - a hidden gem in Poblacion, Makati

If we speak of Poblacion, what usually comes to mind are edgy restaurants that have a rather hideout-ish feel, coupled with hip yet cozy elements. However, surprisingly, there is a restaurant that seem to be out of ordinary, especially when you peg the image to what we just described. This restaurant that we’re speaking of is Bistro Manuel, located just in front of Pob Station Food Park and just a few walks away from A Venue.

Bistro Manuel restaurant may somehow ring a bell, since the man behind this restaurant is Chef Ariel. If that doesn’t sound very much familiar, perhaps Lolo Dad’s does. So yes, he’s the same awesome guy behind that creation. Now, while Lolo Dad’s Café is no longer around (crushing hearts of many foodies a couple of years ago), Bistro Manuel somehow brings it back, but with a completely revitalized skin.

Fine and exclusive dining in Bistro Manuel, Makati

Tucked within the inner streets of Poblacion, Bistro Manuel misses the eye at first look. In fact, those who try dining here for the first time, often need about a minute or two to realize that the restaurant is further hidden at the second floor of the Six Axis Center Building. Hence, go ahead. Don’t be shy asking for assistance from the guard/receptionist of the building. He’ll point you to the elevator which you’ll use to access Bistro Manuel.

Interior of Bistro Manuel, Poblacion, Makati

Now, once the elevator door opens, majesty unlocks. You’ll immediately get hit by the sophistication in the air. All the suspense built-up from locating the place adds to appeal, sealing the exclusivity of the restaurant. Once you finally see the place, you’ll immediately feel home. Breathe, and as you breathe out, everything feels even lighter.

The kitchen is also very visible through the glass window, which then provides both ambiance and assurance for the dining experience.

Chef Ariel of Bistro Manuel working on his craft

Bistro Manuel makes a great dating place or for any other intimate celebrations. There are tables that are good for two, and others can accommodate 8-10. There’s also a separate room which may be availed for private events, and fits about 20-30 people. All in all, the restaurant can serve approximately 70 at a time.

Baked Oyster with Foie Gras of Bistro Manuel

I’ve been stalling far too long already, so let’s get to the real deal. As mentioned, you’ll be seeing dishes here that were inherited from Lolo Dad’s. One of the iconic ones is the Baked Oyster with Foie Gras (P230/ piece). The price may seem like gold, but this dish truly is. After all, we all know that foie gras is a culinary gem. Plus, another thing that differentiates this oyster aside from the duck liver is the infusion of angel hair pasta that improves the overall texture and taste.

Home Fish Platter Appetizer of Bistro Manuel, Makati

Aside from the classic baked oyster, Chef Ariel also wanted to give unconventional appetizers such as this Bay Crabs (P540), which is a plateful of soft shell crab fritters with crab and cucumber roll.

If you still can't get enough of seafood, you can also have this Home Fish Platter (P580) which puts smoked salmon at the forefront. However, this is not your ordinary smoked salmon because it comes with a special tangy and mustard-y sauce that blended well when you further eat it together with the grilled watermelon. Just imagine the symphony of smokiness, sweetness and seafood richness.

Double Espresso Soup by Chef Ariel, Bistro Manuel

With Chef Ariel’s playful brilliance, he was also able to come up with this Double Espresso Soup (P295). This dish gives you a taste of zesty tomato as well as rich brine taste of the mushroom. Each has its own distinct character, but you can alternately sip on the cups to give more richness to the experience.

Lime/calamansi Sherbet Palate-Cleanser Bistro Manuel

Interestingly, palate cleansers in the form of lime sherbet are served right before you proceed to the main dish. The sherbet in itself is an indulgent experience, and you’d wish to have it as a full dessert meal.

Seafood Pasta on Truffle Sauce, Bistro Manuel

There's an array of pasta dishes on Bistro Manuel's menu, and one of them is this Seafood Pasta on Truffle Sauce. It's a bountiful dish given the inclusion of scallops, shrimp and mussels all reinforcing each other in bringing a rich seafood experience, bound by the goodness of truffle.

Fried Duck Leg, Bistro Manuel, Poblacion, Makati

Chef Ariel has fondness in exploring different culinary techniques, and another product of such craftsmanship is this Fried Duck Leg, which according to the chef takes additional 3 hours in preparation just to bring out the natural flavors of the duck meat.

Steak in Bistro Manuel, Poblacion in Makati City

As a fine dining staple, Bistro Manuel also offers steak which can be cooked depending on your preference/specification (if any). It also comes with a Hollandaise jelly on top as an alternative to butter giving it a richer and more malinamnam taste. Also, though the steak can be eaten as is, Chef Ariel offers two sauces to compliment it further: [1] Cranberries and [2] traditional steak sauce.

Lamb and Lamb with Lamb Main Dish of Bistro Manuel

Now, here's something interesting. There is a special dish called Lamb and Lamb with Lamb (P860) which is a very enriching way of appreciating lamb meat cooked in three different methods - [1] roast lamb, [2] stewed lamb breast and [3] fried lamb sweetbread. If you are very particular as to how a certain cooking technique influences taste of the same meat, you'll definitely find this impressive.

Mango Mascarpone Dessert of Bistro Manuel

For desserts, Bistro Manuel has an intriguing line up. Each satisfying a particular craving.

If you are the cheesy type of person  (i.e. not referring to the romantic kind, but works anyway), you’ll love this Mango Mascarpone dessert that comes in this artsy plating featuring layers of flaky pastry, mascarpone cream and ripe mangoes. If you want to somehow play it safe, and enjoy a classic, you can go for the Creme Brulee that comes with a blueberry compote laying on top of a chocolate that resembles the pastry of a tart. What somehow set Chef Ariel's version of Creme Brulee is the thick crystallization covering the creamy dairy.

Creme Brulee of Chef Ariel, Bistro Manuel in Poblacion, Makati

Now, just in case you want to have something airy, sweet and coffee-like, the Tiramisu Soufflé will be your best bet. Plus, there’s a mousse on the side which gives each bite density and volume.

There are other desserts to choose from, but these were the three desserts that we were able to sample during the night. While each has its own appeal and characteristics, it was the Mango Mascarpone that I loved the most. It was a perfect dish to culminate the night especially with the diverse textures coming from the flakiness of the pastry, creaminess of the mascarpone cream and plumpness of the mangoes.

Tiramisu Soufflé of Bistro Manuel in Poblacion, Makati

Bistro Manuel is a miracle set to happen, and though dishes may not be intentionally out-of-this-world and overly mind-blowing, they are definitely a source of immense comfort and pleasure. Hence, be ready to fall in love with how Chef Ariel’s cooking techniques and prowess transform themselves into plates of culinary adventure.

Bistro Manuel is located at the second level of Six Axis Center, Poblacion, Makati. For reservations, you may contact dial in (02) 8718566 or 0926 7341067.
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