Trying out OTKB's antipasti...
I've been meaning to visit OTKB for a while now, sadly, the minutiae of everyday life combined with the lack of willing company pretty much caused this plan to take a backseat. So when Richie invited me to try their new tasting menu, I was excited.
Olive Tree Kitchen and Bar is an antipasti bar helmed by Chef Rob Pengson of The Goose Station fame, which, as the name suggests, mainly serves Italian appetizers. It doesn't stop there, however. They also have an ala carte menu comprising mouthwatering mains, delectable desserts, and creative cocktails.
Although the point of the dinner was to showcase their new tasting menu (P1,900) which consists of antipasti, 5 courses, and dessert, dishes from their regular menu were thrown into the mix, giving us pretty much the whole nine yards.
We started with some cocktails, and I chose the very feminine looking Manila Mule. One sip had me knocked up with its quite sour taste coming from the calamansi mixed with mango, vodka and a hint of ginger. I preferred the Amaretto Sour, which has a sweeter blend of Amaretto, fresh lemon, and syrup.
The tasting menu consisted of inventive dishes that put together elements you wouldn't actually encounter in most restaurants. Biased as I may be, being a lover of anything foie gras and eel, the antipasti proved to be my stellar dish of choice that night. You have a dreamy foie gras terrine in a playful popsicle form, covered in Amaretto almond bits topped with pineapple chutney over a marsala glaze.
In the middle sat a larger-than-usual macaron that was quite a revelation. Caponata is actually a Sicilian relish of chopped eggplant and assorted vegetables. That, melded with black olive and ricotta, infused with balsamic modena, plus some beetroot gel, and finished with Himalayan pink salt is just a fantastic way to start a dinner -- with eyes closed, and mind tuning out everything except every nuance of flavor dancing on your tongue.
The last of the trio is a strip of apple wood smoked eel, Kabayaki style over a layer of galette made with aged parmigiano reggiano, potatoes and apple. Dampen with a bit of horseradish tamed by a smooth bavarian cream for a nice finish.
A small calzone doused with a dark sauce composed of octopus ink, red cabbage, and peperoncino actually hides a treasure of oyster and pork jowl. A smattering of bonito flakes and aged parmigiano shavings grace the top, while pieces of pulpo a la plancha (fancy name for grilled octopus) round up the dish. It was unfamiliar as it was a delight, making you question and confirm, then second guess yourself as you eat your way through a complexity of flavors that will just make you give up midway, and simply revel in it all.
Sous vide for 48 hours, this hanger steak is so tender, you just melt in awe with it. It may not be pleasing to the eyes with its dark hue brought on by the morcilla (blood sausage) pate and nori risotto which has scorched dried seaweeds and burnt leeks, but brave this one if you must, you'll be so glad you did. Again, the ingenuity of the minds behind these dishes is laudable, being able to come up with a variety of elements, and successfully tying them all together to achieve a well-executed comestible.
Other dishes in the tasting menu include:
- Coffe Cured Pink Salmon, Roasted and Pickled Heirloom Carrots, and Ikura
- Prosciutto Crudo and Ham Hock Jelly, Watermelon Vinaigrette Granita, and Ricotta and Yogurt Cheese
- Sous Vide Stuffed Pork Trotter, Chicken and Porcini Mousse, and Garden Pickles
- Dark Chocolate Gateau, Olive Oil Microwave Sponge, and Himalayan Pink Salt Ice Cream
As for the dishes from their ala carte menu...
Though usually not one to have a penchant for burgers, I easily enjoyed the Beef Burger Sliders sporting a juicy meat in between brioche buns bedaubed with Provolone and Gorgonzola mousse. This tiny, robust viand is topped with bacon jam, shallots, and micro arugula.
An elevated version of the ubiquitous Caesar Salad, theirs even has prosciutto, speck crudo, and a generous sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano. And is that wasabi I taste so subtly? Perhaps, as each bite leaves a hint of heat that makes this rendition even better.
They have several pizzas on the menu, one of which is the Bacon and Maple Pizza---a thicker flatbread in shape---holding a melange of components such as picnic bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, and cheese under a blanket of sweet maple syrup. Another is the Pizza Margherita which looks more like your pan pizza, this time with cherry tomatoes, bufala campana (buffalo mozzarella), aged parmigiano, and basil leaves. Don't hold them to these shapes, though, as they are more or less likely to come out differently each time.
I did not like the gnocchi. Perhaps it was too big that it turned all mushy; the texture wasn't pleasing on the palate. The brown butter and orange sauce was lost on me, and even the guanciale (cured pork jowl) shavings and salty tinge of pecorino romano couldn't compensate in flavor what the dish had already failed in texture, at least for me.
Moving on to the mains, the Crispy Pork Belly is a must-try. A block of dry-looking, tough-looking crisp crust gives way to a tender porcine meat when sliced through. There's a strip of multigrain mountain rice that is supposed to lessen the guilt, as well as a smear of apple and raisin glaze, and a garden of chicken liver parfait and poached apples, all of which quite frankly just serves as a backdrop for the much-deserved star of the plate.
Then came a Pink Salmon on a pool of carrot-cumin puree, doused with a bit of horseradish cream. Different cuts of carrots litter around, along with small clusters of homemade granola. Worthy of note is the very crisp skin with an echo of curry flavor.
A landscape of chocolate terrain signaled the end of the gastronomical show. Chocolate soil lay scattered about on a black slate, while geometric pieces of gateau, cake pop, brownie, and mousse jut out like rocky mountains amid a snow of white chocolate shavings. I feasted on the chocolate terrine-like pieces and mousse chunks, leaving the brownies untouched. For a chocoholic, this deconstructed Death by Chocolate will have one wishing she were a cat with nine lives.
Olive Tree Kitchen and Bar
Spot: B4 9th Ave. Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact No.: 823.0366