Who would have thought that an intimidating-looking beer place serves some scrumptious and highly palatable grub as well?
I usually steer clear of bars and late-night gimmick places as they spell out lots of smoke, unbearable noise and sometimes (or most) even a madding crowd. So when I heard about the great food served in Draft, I was hesitant at first since my mind was already conjuring up images of nightmarish cigarette rings and elbow-to-elbow contact with a laughing mob, all while trapped inside a sickening pandemonium. I don't know how accurate (or inaccurate) my perceptions were, but when we arrived during lunch time, the place was quiet as a mouse. No horrific traces of cigarette smoke, none of that hullabaloo; just a few conticent cliques peacefully enjoying their meals.
The taproom was a bit daunting with its dark wooden walls and equally dark wooden tables and chairs. The bar's massive shelves were outlined with golden frames and raven bar chairs are reminiscent of furniture straight out of a secret men's club sitting room or parlour. The place was a bit deserted as we slid into our booth, a stark contrast to its ambiance when night falls, according to my brother. Apparently, not everyone is aware of the good food served in this place, though the term gastropub should have been a clue. Gastropub is a portmanteau of gastronomy and pub which differentiates the ordinary watering hole from one which serves more than the mundane finger foods paired with beers.
Above the wall-to-wall mirror was a ledge that carried juxtaposed bottles of European beer. A menu written in chalk served as a gigantic backdrop; a similar copy of which is printed on pale yellow paper and used as a place mat.
For starters we had the Blue Cheese Salad (P320), a nice recommendation from the waiter that would - according to him - go well with our Bleu Cheeseburger. It was a melange of romaine lettuce, slices of pears, bits of walnuts and crumbs of blue cheese. The salad leaves were cold and crisp, a nice complement to the moisture-rich pears. There was an intermission of crunch from the walnuts and as I searched my palate for a taste of the blue cheese, it rewarded me with a faint tinge of minute creamy texture that was sharp and salty (albeit subdued), and then it was gone.
I appreciated the tenderness of the Chicken Tenders (P220). Do ask for some aioli sauce as it pairs better with the chicken than the sour cream that came with it. There was a tincture of sourness that didn't meld well with the fillet, it needed some dab of acidity provided beautifully by the aioli. You can also go for the sweet chili dipping sauce just to break the monotony.
We got the Pappardelle (P390) for our pasta dish, which had broad thin noodles pretty much like a wider version of fettuccine. The beef ragout paints the pasta red while large shavings of parmesan are scattered atop the pile. I liked the rich flavor of the ragout and as I poked through a slender shard of parmesan, the gorgeous sharp taste hit my tongue and danced daintily with the beef chunks.
The Bleu Cheeseburger (P390) was a hearty one. US Angus beef topped with bleu cheese, onion jam and truffle aioli, it was one succulent bite after another. The beef was so soft and tender that I could slowly feel the juice trickling down the corners of my mouth. That onion jam was redolent of caramelized onions that lent a sweet note to the meat.
I loved the Fish and Frites (P350) for its melt-in-your-mouth property of the fillet. Add to that the nicely seasoned crunchy beer batter and you've got yourself a lovely dish. Dip it into the tartare sauce and feel a tangy and delicate reciprocity of flavors. We asked for some balsamic vinaigrette for the salad which leaves a nice acidulous taste on the palate.
The meal was indeed a pleasant revelation of a place that's easily misjudged as just another gin mill.
Spot: Unit C The Fort Entertainment Center, Bonifacio Global City
Contact No.: 846.9725