Of wordplay, culinary art, and molecular gastronomy (The Goose Station)

As Laida Magtalas v.2.0 would put it:

 “Wow! Big word(s)!”

For my birthday this year, and partially to make up for 2013, Kite and I decided to dine somewhere fancy schmancy. I had been wracking my brain on where that somewhere will be as early as several weeks leading to it. Fortunately, and just in the nick of time (read: before Kite beat me to it ;-)), the stars aligned and I was able to spot a fantastic offer from Deal Grocer – a 7-course degustation set from an esteemed restaurant the Kite and I have been eyeing for the longest time. Yey me!

It’s not impossible to feel intimidated by The Goose Station. Even at the onset, it has all the makings of a fine-dining place. It’s hidden in a not so easy to reach nook of BGC, a reservation is required, a dress code is strictly observed, and the entire dining space itself can seat only sixteen. Talk about intimate and private, yeah? Reading the menu is a challenge on phonetics as well. Hollandaise? Tuille? Gnocchi? Sous vide? Crème Anglaise? (Go ahead, permission to wipe off your epistaxis episode granted. :-P) I personally thought our experience might be spoiled by the potentially snooty and stuck-up nature of the restaurant.

A single step inside, however, was enough to change initial impressions. The staff were so warm and welcoming, we didn’t feel any snobbish air at all. The interiors itself, though dimly (and may I say romantically) lit, was a vision of simplicity, with black chairs, white linens, and not too overly adorned walls. Everything was surprisingly… casual and laidback. It didn’t feel cheap and bland, mind you. It struck the balance between a certain level of style and the guests still feeling comfortable.

Focaccia, honey bread and mini baguette. I just found out one of my favorite food bloggers is an intern here! Good job on these baguettes The Hungry Giant!

We asked for 2013 Otonal Rose Spain to pair with our meal. Good stuff.

When the courses started arriving, I realized that minimizing as many external distractions as possible may have been a deliberate decision. From the first item that touched the table (a scoop of butter atop a slab of cold stone I assumed was slate), down to the last dessert (a Ferrero Rocher-esque chocolate ball interestingly named Petite Four), it was clear that the food was the undoubted centerpiece and star of the show. The plating styles, the range of mouth feels, the succession of flavors, and the actual taste of the different components made obvious the amount of the thought, passion and attention given to each. I mean, seriously, just looking at the dishes was a feast to the eyes already!

Foie Gras Cone

Tuna tartare, and lychee mojito

The Goose Station Eggs Benedict: Poached egg topped with egg foam, hollandaise sauce and truffle oil with bacon tuile

Mussel salad: Mussels with mussel vinaigrette, fresh apples, pickled radishes, watercress emulsion then topped with cucumber sorbet and fresh greens

Gnocchi: Roasted scallop, and gnocchi sauteed in brown butter together with sage and mushrooms then topped with lemon beurre blanc with fresh orange, parmesan froth and toasted hazelnuts

Simplicity of a Good Steak: Sous vide USDA Hanging Tender, smoked mashed potato, charred onion, confit of carrot, sweet potato and beet

Strawberry Sorbet: Composed of smoked strawberry compote, strawberry sorbet, strawberry granite and strawberry chips topped with cardamom crème anglaise

Petite four: A base of praline and milk chocolate coated with dark chocolate and almonds

A mouthful of this. A spoonful of that. Whiffs of distinct smells in between. Stellar, extraordinary, mind-blowing. That’s how well that tasting menu went. I know it’s a great – no superb! – multi-course meal if I can’t pick a favorite, and that was the case for Kite, too.

The foie gras cone was a symphony of complementing flavors. The tuna tartare was fresh and had an ever so slight hint of wasabe.  The lychee mojito, was well, mojito. You can never go wrong with mojito… The Eggs Benedict we both didn’t want to end. How could one want it to end, really? It’s egg and hollandaise and truffle oil and bacon – just about everything good and wonderful in this world! The roasted scallop was perfect and that parmesan froth! Oh that parmesan froth… Until now I’m dumbfounded at how they were able to execute it. Finally, that strawberry granita. Refreshing defined. See how almost translucent those candied strawberries were? Good. Eats. I’m telling you, it would be a disservice to describe by words how each meal tasted. It really is something one needs to experience to fully appreciate. (That and I’m already at a lost of adjectives to use. :-P)

There was one dish, however, that didn’t quite deliver the same level of excitement the others did: the mussel salad with the cucumber sorbet. I didn’t quite understand what it was about. Kite could attest to this as my face made it pretty obvious. All the while I was thinking: “What did they want to achieve with this one?“. I’m not saying it wasn’t good though, because it was. I guess I just didn’t get it, get it.

That being said, it didn’t change that fact that we just had one heck of a brilliant dinner. In fact, it could very well be the best Kite and I have had together so far. That’s saying a lot because I was with a very picky eater, one who isn’t as adventurous as me when it comes to trying out cuisine that is unfamiliar and new. The restaurant promised a “unique dining experience that excites the senses: a smart casual ambience (sic), gracious service and a menu that is both delectable and innovative“, and it delivered. The end result? Two extremely satisfied customers (a very happy birthday boy included) who can testify about the greatness that is The Goose Station.

***

The Goose Station
G/F W Tower, 39th Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Telephone: +632 556 9068, +63 917 854 6673
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Goose-Station/119417471460290
Instagram: http://instagram.com/thegoosestation_mnl

Of baked cheese, oxtail and a young banker abusing an expense account (Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge)

How the heck do you dress up as a young banker abusing an expense account?

That was my biggest concern when I got an invite to try out a tapas bar at BGC a couple of nights ago. Well, I’m young, am “technically” a banker, but I don’t have an expense account to abuse. Haha!

How awesome is the typeface of that R? R!

Anyway, I’ve only been introduced to the culture of tapas just about a year ago. I blame it on a boss who literally has Barcino as her neighbor. (Barcino is awesome, by the way.) Moving into my current company kind of forced me to learn to appreciate the finer things in life too. Read: wine. And what good is wine without tapas, right?

Ironically, I didn’t have wine that night. (But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge is the brainchild of Timo Roxas-Chua and a group of friends which includes Chef Benjo Tuason. Story goes Chef Benjo left everything he had going for him in Australia to indulge Timo’s wishes of setting up a restaurant in Manila. Last Thursday, I found out that the two may be up to something worth leaving Australia behind.

I have a feeling this two here barely consider Relik as "work".

I had a glass of Beck’s and some chicken tenders at Draft before going ‘cause I figured we’ll just be up for some small servings at Relik. True enough, these boards of the usual suspects were served:

Baked Australian Brie: creamy Yarra Valley Brie wrapped in jamon and lightly glazed with honey.

Tasting Board: jamon serrano, chorizo pamplona “Casedemont”, boneless “Diego Martin”, stuffed “Serpis” Spanish olives and Manchego "Artequeso”.

This I chose myself. My default cocktail. Mojito!

I was already happy with these until more food started to come in. My jaw dropped. I wasn’t ready! But hey, who am I to complain about good food right?

BBQ chicken quesadillas served with guacamole and tomato salsa.

Relik mixed paella: Momma Dedet went wild on this one. :-P

Mussels and Chrorizo: New Zealand green mussels sautéed in garlic cream and Spanish chorizo.

300g Benny’s Certified Angus Rib-eye. Meaaaaaaat.

This was too pink even for me but surprise, surprise! Not chewy at all. Yey!

Mother Ann’s braised ox-tail: slow braised Australian ox- tails served with pomme puree and buttered carrots.

Chorizig: crispy chorizo bits topped over Relik's own version of a Filipino favorite - sisig.

Vanilla and amaretto panacotta: cooked cream with a berry compote.

So yeah, they have full meals too. :-P

Of all the good food that was served, I was wowed by three.

The first, and obviously the star of the night, was the baked Brie. If I had to order just one dish off of Relik’s menu, this would be it. The almost melted, creamy and delicately-flavored cheese was complemented very well by the slightly sweet cured ham. I ate it without the crostini and I wasn’t overwhelmed one bit. It was sooo good, I finished off the wheel that was served at our table. (Sorry na…)

Another that got rave reviews from everyone including me was the ox-tail stew. That dish was honest to goodness comfort food. In my book, you can never go wrong with tender and fall-off the bone meat (and fat :-P) paired with a thick, savory sauce. They truly  got serious on this one.

Finally, and totally unexpected, was the panacotta. One does not necessarily expect great sweet endings from a tapas bar, but Relik’s had one of the better versions of the dessert. What I fawned over for was how the chef nailed my preferred consistency. I was telling Allesi and Vince that it reminded me of the texture of a very well-executed and custard-y leche flan (as oppose to firm and stiff). The sweetness was spot on too. Quick tip: don’t save the berries for last. Eat it with the panacotta. ;-)

Some other memorable items to watch out for are the truffle oil chips, the chunky guacamole that’s served with the quesadillas, and finally the “it’s weird at first but it totally works” flavor combination of honey and cayenne covering the Manchego cubes.

Oh! One last thing. I am so bummed out by the fact that I came in late that night, that I wasn’t able to take photos of the place. This I can assure you though: the aesthetics of Relik will not disappoint.  What it lacks in outdoor spaces, it makes up with eclectic yet still very classy interiors. Both the main area and the VIP section was very well-appointed and designed. (Look out for the cool couches. :-)) I really wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a long time either for lunch or another dinner. Or for late night partying, perhaps. I hear the crowd’s good up until four in the morning. (Di ba Chef Benjo? :-P)

And no, you don't really have to be as rich as a young banker abusing an expense account. :-P

In case you’re wondering, I wore a suit over a casual shirt, jeans and black leather shoes. Everyone seemed to like it, from the office to the event, so I guess I triumphed in that front. Now how to build that account… ;-)

***

Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge
2nd floor, Commercenter Building, 31st Ave cor. 4th St. Bonifacio Global City, 1200 Taguig, Philippines (directly across St. Luke’s Global City; behind Mercury Drug; on the same building as Chatime and Singapore Food Republic)
Hours:
Monday to Friday: 11:30 am to 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm onwards.
Saturday and Sunday: 5:00 pm onwards.
Offerings:
Executive set lunches for lunch
Main courses from 5:00-10:00pm
Tapas served all the day long and up to 1:00am from Sunday to Thursday and up to 3:00am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Phone: +639175298333
Email: info.relik@yahoo.com

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