It was my very first blogger event. I was having a Me-day in Glorietta one Saturday when Aldous messaged me in Facebook and asked if I was free to join a food event at the Grilla Bar and Restaurant near Rockwell later that day. Since I had no plans and I have never been to a food event, I gladly accepted. I was really excited, but also anxious at the same time because my phone was already running out of battery and I had no camera with me. But I still went to my first taste test.
I got there very early because I thought I’d have a hard time hailing a taxi and that I’d encounter heavy traffic. When I got there, there was only a handful of bloggers and we got around to introducing one another. Then we were given some “dalandan shots” to sample. The Grilla people were being mysterious about it at first but apparently it would be one of the features of the night’s event.
Degustation du Liqueur
To start the evening, we were treated to 5 new liqueurs that Chef Mike Canlas concocted just for Grilla. They were vodka-based and there were five flavours in all: Dalandan, Calamansi, Tarragon, Rosemary, and Cinnamon & Brown Sugar. It was a really good thing that I ate before going to the event because I wanted to try them all!
The lowdown: Dalandan was pretty good but it was a bit itchy on the throat. Calamansi offered a really interesting taste as it was sour, a taste I am not accustomed to when it comes to alcohol. Tarragon and Rosemary tasted just like the herbs. Lastly, Cinnamon & Brown Sugar tasted like candy with an alcohol kick. I liked it best.
Grilla’s New Menu
It turned out that Grilla Bar and Grill is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year! And to mark this milestone, they are adding new dishes to their menu: local dishes that were tweaked to tickle the taste buds of Filipino food lovers.
The first course was a trio of Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig, Chicharong Cebu and Pork BBQ & Salted Egg Triangles. I must say, I was really impressed with the Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig (145 PHP). Its taste and texture were really good, like your normal sisig. But the catch? There’s no pork in it, only tofu and sigarilyas. It should be a very nice treat to sisig-lovers, but of course minus the cholesterol. The Chicharong Cebu (160 PHP) was nice and really crispy. The vinegar went really great with it and it would make a really good pulutan. Meanwhile, I wasn’t a fan of the Pork BBQ & Salted Egg Triangles (185 PHP) because it was too oily for me.
The second course was the Sinampalukang Inihaw na Manok (225 PHP), which was grilled chicken in tamarind broth. I know a lot of people would love this dish because many prefer to have the chicken cooked well first before it’s put into soup. Me? I loved it. The salty taste of the chicken contrasted nicely with the sour broth.
At this point, my phone died on me and I wasn’t able to photograph all the dishes that were served. I was only able to charge my battery later on but I missed out a lot of the dishes. Morale of the story: Always have your power bank and cable with you.
Anyway, Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili (225 PHP) was the first dish for the second course and it was the most popular dish that night. The tilapia was fried and presented as your average crispy tilapia, but the gata and chili sauce made all the difference. Now, I am really no fan of gata but the sauce tasted really great. Paired with rice, this dish is a real winner.
Then there was the Lechon Liempo a la Cebu (850 PHP / kg). I have stopped eating lechon but just for the sake of completing the whole food event experience, I tried it too. It came with a sinamak (vinegar) and liver sauce.
The next dish was the Beef Kansi (345 PHP), a famous dish from Bacolod that should be a cross between bulalo and sinigang. But Grilla spiced it up a bit and I liked the result – a spicy sinigang with bulalo meat.
Next came the Ilocano dishes. First there was the Ilocos Dinuydoy (200 PHP) composed of mashed squash and ampalaya plus bagnet. It was confirmed to us that the bagnet directly came from Ilocos, hence the price. It would be a really healthy fare if you take away the bagnet.
Then the dish with the funny name, Poqui Poqui (145 PHP), was served. This dish is basically a grilled tortang eggplant. I don’t normally eat eggplant but I must say that this one was good enough and I did not regret trying it.
One of Grilla’s family feast entrées is the Grill-A-Palayok (695 PHP) composed of maya-maya, mussels, shrimps, clams, thinly sliced beef and pork shortplate. These were cooked over very hot stones and then served with pork lemongrass broth. The broth was served separately in a kettle and you get to experiment with the taste using the sidings of sinamak, grilled eggplant and nilasing na mangga. The overall presentation of this dish was great, with all the meat served in an attention-grabbing earthenware pot with the hot stones still inside.
The last thing that we sampled that night was the Halo Halo Spring Rolls (135 PHP). This one consisted of halo halo ingredients, all wrapped up and served with ube ice cream. I don’t really eat ube ice cream (even with my halo halo) but this dessert was okay. It was a nice combination of hot and cold and it’s also not too sweet.
I think that Grilla Bar and Grill serves good food, has a nice atmosphere for hanging out and great customer service. The food seems a bit pricy but the serving size is good for sharing. All in all, I would not hesitate to go back to Grilla and try out their other dishes.
The night has ended and I learned a lot from that event. Mainly, I learned a lot about Grilla like how they started as more of an inuman place but is now reorienting itself into something of a family destination. And with the addition of all these local dishes, inspired by Chef Red Agustin’s lakwachas all over the country, they are sure to cater to a wider audience. This self-reinvention just might be what they needed to last another 16 years (and hopefully more!) in the business. Plus more branches.
And with that, cheers, Grilla! Happy 16th anniversary to you!
Grilla Bar and Grill
8491 Kalayaan Ave. corner Rockwell Drive,
Poblacion, Makati City