Last Saturday, we all decided to head to Rockwell to have our annual pre-Christmas dinner. We were contemplating of trying out any among Mamou Too!, CDP (Chef du Partie) and Grace Park. Without any reservation, by the way. However, since the first two choices were fully booked -- even the al fresco areas, we tried our luck with the farther option. (Both Mamou Too! and CDP were at the Power Plant Mall, while Grace Park is at One Rockwell.) And thank the heavens there were free tables at Grace Park, albeit al fresco.
From the culinary powerhouse that is Margarita Forés whose behind Lusso, Cibo and Café Bola, comes Grace Park -- a farm-to-table, slow-cooking Italian restaurant that oozes with rustic, industrial and earthy. I super dig the cozy, distressed ambiance, and even fell in love with their makeshift menu pasted on a cardboard. How clever and eco-friendly!
We spent a good two hours at the al fresco area, but were moved to the mezzanine, after the second batch of reserved guests were finished with dinner. And I can't be any happier to stay inside the restaurant. I just adored the mix of wood, metal and cement that successfully transported me from Rockwell to a totally different rustic-industrial place.
Anyway, enough with the place. Let's now move to the more important part. The food.
By the way, since we were initially seated at the al fresco area, we had really bad lighting that I actually thought we wouldn't be able to take decent food shots for the blog. Good thing the powerful LG G3 double LED flashlight came to the rescue! I think I won't be needing a speedlight for now. Will just have to bring the boyf and his phone. Haha!
As per our server's suggestion, we had this colorful 3-tier salad to start our dinner with. Organic greens, carrots, three pieces of crispy flatbread and blue edible flowers in honey-dijon dressing. 'Tis a refreshing salad with the distinct earthy flavor of the mustard. Both Berylle and D didn't dig the mustard taste that much (Forget the boyf, he doesn't even eat salad!) but I personally found this plate enjoyable and appetite whetting.
|3-Page Salad, Organic Field Greens (P280)|
For mains, we had one of Grace Park's bestsellers, the beautifully glistening succulent, fork-tender beef belly glazed with muscovado. At first, we were worried that the serving (based from other blogs) might be too small. But when it was brought to our table, we were proven wrong. Not sure if we only got lucky, but it was a pretty big portion good for 2, even up to 3 people. And I was quite impressed how the serving was about 85% lean meat with only a thin layer of juicy, flavorful fat. Sweet, savory with an addicting roasted flavor, and an uber-soft texture. Clearly, this was the star of the night.
|✓ Muscovado Beef Belly (P540)|
Our server also suggested this braised lamb adobo dish on a bed of butter-garlic organic brown rice, which we happily obliged. Like the previous dish, this is another blockbuster hit! The lamb was braised to a soft, succulent goodness. Not as fork-tender as the beef belly, but this wins in flavor. Meaty, slightly sweet, and savory with a rich lamb taste. With a sumptuous entrée as this, I couldn't even feel guilty that we had another order of rice.
|✓ Lamb Adobo Rice (P620)|
My eyes didn't miss the mention of uni on the menu. So for pasta, we had this dry semolina spaghettini with uni. Since I can't have crustaceans, I left the shrimps to my friends. And while Berylle wasn't too fond of the creamy uni-infused sauce, I found myself happy with the uni overload. I had to ask for some salt and pepper in the middle of finishing the dish though, since a good forkful of this pasta can be somewhat overbearing and just too creamy for the palate with a shortage in saltiness and umami.
|✓ Spaghettini with Uni, Live Shrimp, Red Wine Tomatoes and Rucola (P550)|
We also had one of the specials for that day. As a fan of fresh pasta, I loved that the pappardelle was al dente -- soft, yet firm and chewy to the bite, although it was a little weird for me that they were very wide and more square than strips. Nevertheless, every mouthful was very enjoyable, especially when drenched with the cream sauce that has just the right amount of truffle oil. However, for some reason, the bits of salted egg didn't come through as salty. If anything, they felt just like slices of regular boiled egg, but firmer.
|Fresh Pappardelle, Salted Egg and Asparagus in Truffle Cream (P560)|
For dessert, we ordered this simple ensemble of meringue and cream with mangoes and strawberries. We loved it upon first bite! The meringue was very light yet chewy, and has a very enjoyable sweetness that goes so well with the cream and fruits. However, after three spoonfuls, the meringue can get really cloying. (Water please!) So this is a dessert best shared with family and friends. (Although I was the one who finished it. Toinks!)
|Eton Mess (P275)|
I'm usually the type of eater who can't get satisfied with just one kind of dessert, so we opted to add an order of this gelato. In general, I love mascarpone -- a creamy Italian cheese that goes well with either savories or desserts. However, it seems like ordering it was a mistake. Aside from the uninspiring presentation, the gelato itself was icy and somewhat curdy. I'm not sure if it's because this is cheese we're dealing with, but the texture was just not enjoyable. It reminded me strongly of an unappetizing sorbet, or melted ice cream that was put in the freezer to be salvaged but ended up icy, curdling and unsave-able. (Not sure if things would've turned out better if we ordered the chocolate variant.)
|Mascarpone Gelato (P105)|
Nevertheless, our dinner at Grace Park started and ended on a good note because of the company. More often than not, I find myself more patient and forgiving of restaurants' hiccups when I'm with friends. Haha! Anyway, a big thank you to this wonderful couple for all the food trips and adventures (plus free rides) this 2014! Can't wait for more chikahan and bonding this coming 2015. See you soon, Benby! ٩(●˙▿˙●)۶…⋆ฺ♡
Grace Park has been one of the restos in my bucket list since last year, and I'm sure glad I finally got to try it! Starting off dinner at the al fresco area may not be the thing I had in mind, but the good food, courteous service, and inspiring ambiance sans the Halloween-ish decals on the windows, made up for it. Heck, these three even made up for the downer of a gelato we had! Will I be back at Grace Park any time soon? Yes, I think so. The farm-to-table concept is something I really dig, along with its generally subtle and well-restrained flavors. However, if you're a fan of bold, intense flavors, you might get disappointed.
Ambiance - 4.5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ambiance - 4.5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Grace Park, One Rockwell
G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Dr., Rockwell Center,
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 843-7275; (0917) 513-8945
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