URBN Bar & Kitchen by Chef Benjo Tuason

God knows my party days are over. In Manila’s night scene, those in the know would readily point to URBN at the Fort strip as a hip place to hang out, especially if your idea is drinking till the morning sun rises.Though still relatively new in the bar scene, somehow it has earned a following not only because of its ambiance and heady mix of cocktails but also its devilishly good food!

Nothing beats quality, as they say. Here’s a toast to URBN for one of the best dinners I’ve had this year!

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Start off the long list of sinful dishes on the menu with a healthy serving of URBN’s house salad (P220). What’s in here: mixed greens, sliced poached pears, and candied walnuts topped with shaved parmesan. But the one thing I like about this salad: the sweetish raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

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Manchego souffle (P395) is one treat that dreams are made of. It’s named after that tasty Spanish cheese which the bar baked to perfection then drizzled on the side with equally luxurious truffle cream sauce. The dish is then crowned with crispy jamon serrano. Somehow, you just know it’s screaming to be savored and eaten once placed in front of you.

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The seared scallops (P390) are another taste of heaven. Like most of the ingredients, these are imported from the chef’s former home base of Australia. The scallops are placed on a bed of cauliflower puree and again topped with crumbles of jamon serrano.

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The Australian rack of lamb with herb & horseradish crust (P960) was my favorite. It couldn’t get better than this. Tender all throughout with the right amount of juiciness and the flavors oozing from the meat! Don’t forget to also munch on the roasted pumpkin that comes with this dish.

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The Crispy Duck Leg (P560) on a base of mushroom risotto and glazed carrots is a must-try when dining at URBN. It’s hard to split your loyalties when you’re asked to choose what is the best but yes, this is another favorite of mine. Crunchily good, my palate was up for one irresistible fowl play. Prior to this, my comfort food was just fried chicken :)

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URBN is quite proud of their dry-aged ribeye steak. It’s listed as a house specialty and huge slabs of the meat are encased in a special freezer for diners to see. The meat stays for weeks in temperatures just above freezing to “age” properly. Result is a very distinct flavor that discriminating carnivores should appreciate to a T.

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For dessert, there was a choice of three: the classic souffle, the chocolate lava cake and the salted caramel cheesecake. All are good but I choose the cheesecake (P150 for a slice) for its uniqueness. How you can combine salty, creamy and sweet in one meal-ender is the stuff foodie fantasies are made of.

Salted caramel cheesecake

I end this post paying tribute to the man of URBN, chef Benjo Tuason (who I only met for the dinner, btw). I thought his story is worth retelling: he arrived in Australia with nothing but his backpack, not knowing a single friend or relative. His only intention was to study in culinary school and to absorb the treasures that the land Down Under had to offer. After which he worked in several top restaurants in Sydney, at times apprenticing in a few of them without pay just to learn the secrets of the trade. Now he’s come back in Manila to lord over a few restaurants and give everyone a taste of “contemporary comfort food.” We daresay it’s highly-recommended!

I don’t really trust a skinny chef, but I will bow to a portly one. Makes me think he’s really doing everything to work and taste everything in the kitchen, eh heh.

chef Benjo Tuason

URBN Bar & Kitchen
3F Fort Pointe II Bldg.
28th St. Bonifacio Global City
Taguig

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Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A full moon. An empty parking space.A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us.

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