Of classics, benchmarks and wings (Charlie’s Grind and Grill)

When the Wednesday group set off to explore the gastronomic haven that is Kapitolyo, the initial goal was to discover unique epicurean finds. The area did not disappoint and we had one success after another. One week, however, all of us wanted something classic, something familiar, something sure-ball. Wena, Anthony and I (Pasig’s our turf, not Rachel’s. Hers is the south. :-P) all agreed on our next stop, a restaurant even non-hardcore foodies would associate with Kapitolyo: Charlie’s Grind and Grill.

Not that old, but I already consider it a classic.

Their Black Angus Burgers and Buffalo Wings are the type you’d compare other burgers and wings to, and to this day I still believe they cook up some of the best I’ve tasted. True enough, on this last visit, I still got impressed with how the meat was cooked for both dishes: tender and meaty with memorably bold flavors. Everything served with it still worked like a charm, from the fries to the vegetable sticks, and of course, my must-have blue cheese dressing. It’s always nice to see consistency when it comes to dining favorites.

Charlie’s Black Angus Burger with Fresh Fries: cheddar cheese, butter leaf lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard and mayonnaise on a butter bun.

Buffalo wings: Deep fried chicken wings served with veggie sticks (turnips, carrots and celery) with bleu cheese on the side. This one’s sweet…

…while this one’s with the “punyeta” sauce.

Wena gamely posing with Charlie’s Iced Tea. I guess freshly brewed tea with dalanghita extract could elicit this facial expression. :-P

This being an exploration initiative, it was inevitable that we tried new dishes as well. For starters, the Meatballs Marinara on Submarine, though not really new, was a first for all of us. As you can clearly see below, it was a sight to behold. Oo, maliit talaga si Wena, but those balls were ginormous! Obviously, another plus point for Charlie’s is that they don’t skimp on the good stuff. That sub was good enough for four! I found the meatballs herb-y (in a good way) though I would’ve liked it more if it was a tad juicier.

And the best actress award goes to…

Autopsy shot: Meat Balls Marinara On Submarine: Made from fresh Italian sausage with grated parmeggiano regiano and parsley.

The true new item, Charlie’s Lettuce Wrap Burger, on the other hand, was a bag (or wrap) of mixed reviews. Flavor-wise, it was fine (really, it was good), but texturally, it was a let down. It was a mess to eat, too. We all thought it would’ve been more successful if it was in salad form, but I think I get were the owners were coming from when they added this to the menu. Who goes to Charlie’s and orders for a salad anyway?

Charlie’s Lettuce Wrap Burger: All the ingredients of their Black Angus Burger with lettuce replacing the bun.

So… forced. Practice pa! :-D

We were full from all of the carnivorous stuff that just went inside our tummies  but not full enough to not have space for dessert. I asked for one item, and one item alone: Charlie’s Key Lime Pie. I remember clearly when I first had this citrus-y treat. I was such a noob back then and did not imagine sour flavor profiles would make for a great dessert. I sampled it, was a fan since then, and I am still. Chiiiiiillls…

Charlie’s Key Lime Pie and Mini Frozen Brazo

The rest of the group clamored for some Mini Frozen Brazo which was a not-so-ice-hard (a more apt description would be “chilled”) version of brazo de mercedes. I found it a bit sweet, but the mouthfeel was right on. The one below, however, was just OK but not so special, so much so that I don’t even remember what it is. :-P

And this. Somebody tell me what this is called…

Now that I think about it, what I wrote in this post is hardly new. Just a reminder and confirmation of what we always knew: that for good food, we can always rely on Charlie’s. :-)

Oh yeah, the carwash’s still there just in case you need to know. :-)

***

Charlie’s Grind and Grill – Kapitolyo
16 East Capitol Drive, Barangay Kapitolyo,
Pasig, Philippines, 1603
Telephone: +632 501 0137
Mobile phone: +63939 450 4758
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charliesgrindandgrill

Of Armageddon, tears and Physics (Buffalo’s Wings n’ Things)

The best Buffalo wings I’ve ever had are that of Charlie’s at Kapitolyo, Pasig. Those wings were a winner. I remember having lunch there on a work week day with some HP foodie friends even though it was out of our way. Those wings were THAT good. The wings were massive and meaty. And the sauce? Oh the sauce. Love. Love. Love. (Migs, Valline, Kara, can we go back please?)

A couple of nights ago, Charlie’s position was challenged.

Ok, maybe not. Buffalo’s Wings n’ Things wings weren’t exactly colossal. The heat level of the sauce, though. Now we’re talking. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Buffalo's Wings N' Things: Home of Champion Buffalo Wings

Rewind.

Last Thursday night, my Physics college friends were finally able to pull a get together. (Cheers to Phoebe!) The group decided to meet and have dinner at Ortigas Home Depot’s Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things. Truth be told, I was there that night for the company. These are people most of whom I haven’t seen in years. These are folks I shared my college years with, from hours of problem set study sessions at McDonald’s Katipunan surviving on a single order of large fries and large Coke to skipping a day at Physics conferences to tour Davao and everything in between. For the few hours I was with them that night, I got reminded of how I survived Physics.

Little did I know that night would be a food adventure as well.

The food spot gives diners five choices of spicy Buffalo wings – Rookie, New York’s Finest, Firehouse Classic, Nuclear and Armageddon – listed by increasing level of heat. Two non-spicy variants – Garlic Parmesan and Honey BBQ – are also available for those who don’t fancy anything hot. Ordered and served separately are two dip choices: Blue Cheese and Buffalo Ranch.

The menu. I think I'll try the burgers next time.

Motch and I first tried a half-pound (four half-wings) serving of New York’s Finest with Blue Cheese dip. The chicken was sufficiently moist and tender. The sauce was mildly sweet and spicy, just right for the average person craving for the usual Buffalo wings. We were impressed, save for the quantity and size of the wings. In Tagalog: bitin. Motch and I agreed to order another half-pound, this time opting for the Honey BBQ, again with the same dip. It was as satisfying as the earlier one – the meat was still juicy and the sauce ample – although obviously on the sweeter side of things. (Proof that I didn’t intend on blogging about the place: no pictures of these variants).

When the fashionably late Alen arrived, Cats (who had also ordered the level 2 option earlier) and I thought we’d try the spicy-est of the bunch: the Armageddon. If I remember correctly, our logic was that New York’s Finest wasn’t that hot, so three levels higher shouldn’t be that bad. We got the Triple Sampler which amounted to 12 pieces. Our server asked if we were sure that we wanted ALL 12 to have the Armageddon treatment. We said yes.

We dared.

When the basket came in, we looked like this:

Fight!

After the first bite, we looked like this:

Cats and Alen the posers. CRAZZZZZZY wings... >.<

Ok, wala pala masyadong impact sa picture. Haha! But if you have been there, and the group will surely attest to this, we were profusely sweating, our cheeks turned red and our lips plump, and Alen was in tears! (I could post a picture but I love Alen. That and I fear for my life. Haha!) Those wings were wild! After the first bite, the three of us were like: “Huh? That was it?”. Kaboom. After a few seconds, we were all scrambling for water and paper napkins. I personally felt numbness (Felt numbness? Hehe.) on my lips, mouth, and tongue.  Hardcore wings, I tell you. I think I haven’t had anything remotely as spicy as what I had that night.

Armageddon. Seriously.

We were really stunned. It took some time before we can muster a second bite. It took even a longer time for us to each finish our first wing. Cats just had one. Alen and I, surprisingly, were able to down three each (a deliciously fiery struggggggggle…) and we had Eio and Steph each try one. The reaction was the same across the board.

Catching up with old friends, laughing at old jokes as though it was just delivered for the first time, revealing some secrets and issues one’s never heard before, reminiscing stories (love-related?) from years back. Awesome. Oh, the insane Buffalo wings didn’t hurt too.

This is how Physics folks enjoy a Thursday night. Nice. :) (Wala pa si Alen and Rey nito.)

***

Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things
Home of Champion Buffalo Wings
Food Street, Home Depot
Ortigas, Mandaluyong City

***

Postscript:

1. On the service front, the place was very much lacking. There was this one waitress that didn’t smile. Not even once. The order turnover rate was also a bit slow. To add to that, although this one may have been just an unfortunate occurrence, the POS machine that night got busted. It took a long time for us to get billed. For a supposedly non-busy night (it was a Thursday), that was bad.

Buti na lang masarap yun wings.

2. Be prepared. Armageddon in. Armageddon out. Enough said. (Right Eio? :))

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