Dining on the top of the world...
Gramercy Residences is 71 storeys high, and houses a restaurant and lounge at that coveted penthouse spot: 71 Gramercy.
When I reached the top floor of the highest building in the country, the sky was still bright. I was led directly to the outdoor patio where I was greeted by Chef Cecille Chang of Silk Road fame. She's the new General Manager of 71 Gramercy, and the one who invited us all (by all I mean the KTG and some respected blogger friends) for dinner to sample Chef Carlo Miguel's new dining menu.
She then took me on a tour of the whole place while we waited for the others to arrive...
We first walked through the formal dining area with an eye-catching bar at the far end. Best to get seats by the window if you want to dine while taking in Makati's cityscape. It's definitely a romantic date place, one where proposals are made with a breathtaking backdrop of the moon hanging on a starlit sky, and the ice cream on the dessert plate slowly melting while waiting for the woman to say yes.
Walk through the large red drapes on one side, and you'll find yourself in the lounge area with its own bar. At this time in the afternoon, it's empty and quiet. The lounge opens at 10 PM, but it usually crowds up at around midnight -- way past my bedtime. That's when the scene is the stark contrast of what you see in the pictures above. I could imagine this room full of people drinking, laughing, and dancing to the DJ's tunes until sunrise.
My thoughts were interrupted when I saw the beautiful sun beginning its slow descent on the horizon. I stood for a few seconds in awe, before coming to my senses and making my way back to the outdoor patio area.
There are two outdoor patios that give you unobstructed view of the city skyline. One is said to undergo a renovation to become a unique and distinct outdoor attraction, perfect for cocktails as the sun sets.
As I stood outside, I'm taking it all in -- the magnificence, the serenity, the underlying power of being on the top of the world, all the stress and hullabaloos of life left down below, even for a while. There's something to be said for having a connection with nature, however little it might be, however in the middle of a bustling concrete jungle you are. It gives you some sort of perspective and respite from the seemingly daunting tasks of everyday. If nothing else, it gives you a sense of comfort, and a reminder of a higher power you can always turn to.
As we were ushered into our seats, I took a last look at that view, the sun's hue transforming into a blazing red, almost as if in protest. Our friends started trickling in, everyone excited about the meal to come. A long table covered in pristine white linen was set, and aperitifs were served.
Cocktails were passed around, and after having a few sips of the Sangria, I figured I preferred the Amaretto Sour, a smooth tangy drink with a hint of almond, vouched for by Seatmate Irene of Indulgence by Irene and Tipsy Wife Lynne of En Route.
Our wines for the evening were Grant Burge Wines from South Australia. The Benchmark Chardonnay 2013 is citrusy in flavor with a hint of honeydew mixed with peach aromas, best suited for seafood and chicken dishes. The Benchmark Shiraz 2013, on the other hand, is a full-bodied wine with fruit flavors and spice, best paired with char-grilled read meat.
Dinner began with a couple of appetizers: green tea cured salmon with arugula, fetta, ginger, and shallots; and natural fine de claire oysters---known to have less fleshy texture---with mignonette granita and lemon. Both are slim, fresh, and leave a light, acerbic taste in the mouth.
Next came some grilled prawns piled on top of one another surrounded by a puddle of Guimaras mango salsa and vanilla dressing.
In between dishes, stories and laughter are exchanged between friends, the moon a silent witness to the camaraderie of the group.
It is here where you can perfectly enjoy the company of such. Right under the night sky, a glass of inebriant on one hand, and a forkful of delicate bites on the other.
One of this year's most memorable edibles came in the form of pasta, laden with crisp prosciutto, and a 62˚ egg blanketed by shredded parmesan. I was taking a shot of the dish when they poured the truffle cream onto it. The heady smell swept into my senses, leaving me utterly mesmerized.
Until then, we had been satisfied to share each dish among a party of four to six. But this -- I don't think anybody had the intention of sharing this rich dish with anyone else that night, if they had their way. The only thing that kept each of us from shielding the pasta bowl from the others is some semblance of etiquette.
As I was just getting down from that particular pasta high, a parade of proteins made its way to our table. Plates were again replaced with new ones, signaling the start of yet another round.
Slow roast Berkshire pork belly and sautéed Maine lobsters sit alternately on green pea purée and marsala sauce, a surf and turf dish worth ordering if you want to impress your date.
The Gramercy Burger is 200 grams of ground US Angus beef chuck, rib eye, and short rib in the ubiquitous homemade brioche bun, topped with gruyere cheese, mushrooms, and seared foie gras. It's quite the epitome of the place -- the best ingredients gathered to make an opulent statement burger, just as how 71 Gramercy ties great food, great music, and the best view to come up with the ultimate nightlife experience.
You'll be curious to discover what 'Breakfast for Dinner' is if you see it on the menu. Well, it comprises a thick slab of home cured and smoked Berkshire pork belly with a mantle of crisp skin, another glorious 62˚ egg, potato hash, mushrooms, and tomato fondant. Think big breakfast tailored to an elevated palate. It's what I want in my breakfast, and judging by the looks of my companions that night, it's what they'd want in theirs, too.
After all the hearty meat I was devouring, I was looking forward to another seafood dish, and the pan roasted Chilean Sea Bass did not disappoint. Drizzled with lemon oil, the perfectly cooked fish was a delight together with the eggplant relish and microgreens on top.
The final entrée was Chef Carlo Miguel's masterpiece: US Angus Choice Grade Tomahawk, a huge hunk of tender meat, with juices oozing out and mixing with the butter and herbs adorning it. It comes with sauce that you don't need and three sides consisting of fritas, creamed spinach, and profanity-inducing mac and cheese that is in itself worthy enough to be a main dish.
No matter how much you might think you're sated from all that you've devoured, there is always room for dessert. Always.
Chef Carlo's almond tart with strawberries, rhubarb, and burnt butter ice cream I found a bit dry, and not something I'd order for dessert. On the other hand, his mom's apple pie recipe served with vanilla bean ice cream was lovely, and I found myself stealing another slice. I liked his twice baked chocolate and banana soufflé with butterscotch sauce and salty peanut ice cream, a tempting triad of tastes, temperatures and textures.
What blew me away though, was the #LEGIT Chocolate Cake. Yes, that's the legit name. It's five textures, three chocolates, and comes with a form of entertainment. Chef Carlo Miguel gingerly pours viscous chocolate at the center of the cake, you then get to watch as it slowly melts that center to form a crater. It all ends with an eruption of chocolate flavors in your mouth.
It was a night to remember, and whether you're looking for a place to bring your better half, or a lounge to party the night away with friends, or simply a place to indulge and soak in Mother Nature's wonder, nothing beats experiencing it all 71 storeys high.
Until next time, Gramercy...
Spot: Gramercy Residences, Kalayaan Ave. cor. Salamanca St., Century City, Makati
Contact No.: 0917.809.4093