Serving Up Local Food With A Twist: Backyard Kitchen + Brew in UP Town Center

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Chef Edward Bugia of BRGR: The Burget Project, Pino/Pipino, and Breakfast and Pies, brings yet another dining concept that is definitely worth trying. From what I have observed when I visited the newly opened Backyard Kitchen + Brew at the newly built back building inside UP Town Center, I instantly knew that it will be one of the most sought-after restos come 2015. Into eating something familiar and local with all its crazy twists and turns? Then Backyard Kitchen + Brew is your best bet. I got the chance to try out one of the newest joints in UP Town when Papa Bear Richie of The Pickiest Eater invited me along with other friends from KTG.

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The menu at Backyard Kitchen + Brew is almost complete and still needs a little more work, so expect more things to come in the next couple of weeks.

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Chef Ed showed us a bag of local brand Current Swell coffee beans from Sagada which is exclusive at Backyard Kitchen + Brew, and even in its purest form it seemed like I already smelt a cup of hot brewed coffee. The concept reveals itself through its name. “It’s basically eating food from the backyard to your table”, said Chef Ed. But it's definitely not your usual farm-to-table concept restaurant.

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Almost everything in the restaurant is curated and supporting local farmers and suppliers. Even the wooden chairs are local and ergonomically made (chairs are curved in a way that it complements your posture), so you wouldn’t feel less comfortable even while waiting for your food to come. 

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But why just wait when you can get a freshly brewed glass of draft beer instead? Light and Dark Draft Beers are available and brewed in-house. I tried both (yes, both, haha!) and there’s nothing like it. Both are tolerable without being too bitter; but the Dark one obviously hits that full-bodied flavor. I preferred the Light Beer, which is also sweet and easy on my tastebuds. 

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Backyard Kitchen + Brew also gives a chance for other local brewers to showcase their products as the restaurant offers Joe’s Brew Fish Rider Pale Ale and Sierra Madre Wheat Ale

My satisfaction literally rose to different levels of high as we were served with the current dishes available at Backyard Kitchen + Brew. Please don’t think differently when I say that there were a number of instances where I had to make a mix of silent and loud oohhs, ahhhs and oomphs.

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For starters, I had a piece of Salted Egg Chicken Skin Garlic Flat Bread, which is topped mozzarella and ricotta cheese, salted egg yolk and halved cherry tomatoes and topped with bite sized pieces of chicken skin and an egg that’s baked just before everything gets cooked through. It looks just like a flatbread pizza but the taste is far different. You may think that the combination of chicken skin, salted egg yolk and an egg is overpowering, and yet it still has that balance. 

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Another flat bread that we tried is the Longganisa and Peppers Flat Bread, made with homemade longganisa, ricotta and mozarella, tomato sauce and roasted bell peppers. Each slice is one cheesy hot mess that goes really well with any kind of beer. 

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I paired each mouthful of flat bread with some warm Sinigang na Batchoy – placed inside this cute lil' soup pot. The sinigang side of this dish is actually made from kamias broth (instead of the usual sampaloc/tamarind base) and then they add in some pork offal, egg noodles, hard-boiled egg and crunchy chicharon bits. Take note that when you order this, you should be able to consume it right away while it’s still hot. It’s one of the most unusual hybrid dishes I’ve ever tried but I did find its uniqueness comforting. Each order is good for one so don't expect to make any new friends when eating this.

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More sins were being made as soon as the Waffle Breaded Fried Chicken arrived on our table. Boneless waffle breaded chicken thighs that’s fried to perfection and topped with butter that melts over the meat, paired with sautéed kale and ciabatta toasts. DON'T EVER be fooled with the bread though - Chef Ed explains that the toasts are smeared with whipped bone marrow. Effin. Whipped. Bone. Marrow. It's so bad that it's good. The chicken is so juicy and tender, and you can opt to add a little bit of heat one you eat it with some of their homemade sriracha sauce. The sauteed kale may seem a bit salty for others so if you want to omit this just make sure to ask this to your server.

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It's just amazing that you can also get the same whipped bone marrow ciabatta toasts topped with pulled Pork BBQ, house made BBQ sauce and sour cream. This Ciabatta with Whipped Bone Marrow and Pulled Pork is one helluva open faced sandwich. 

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Or what if we bring in some duck liver on the plate? The Ciabatta with Local Duck Liver Pate and Duck Flakes is just as delicious. Let that same subtle bone marrow flavor and smooth pate sink into your teeth while you savor on duck adobo flakes, plus the jalapenos gives that slight kick of heat that subsides after a while. Whew.

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Backyard Kitchen + Brew also offers sumptuously good looking (and tasting) sandwiches, and one of them is the Lobster and Prawn Roll, which is a unique take on a seafood sandwich. It made with a brioche roll that's doused with butter, and filled with a mixture of prawn and lobster pieces, prawn and lobster mayo-butter dressing, papaya slaw, cherry tomatoes, and then topped with fried celery leaves and served with house made potato chips. It's a weekend morning boat ride in a bun (don't forget the beer).

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I was too full that I wasn't able to try the Backyard Burger that Richie ordered. It's a chuck and brisket patty with melted cheddar on top, and served with arugula, tomatoes and onions, house made sriracha ketchup and a parmesan crisp. 
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However, I  can attest to the deliciousness of Backyard Kitchen + Brew's Nose To Tail Fettucini, which is basically made with all the good stuff; best for your palate but not for your body (what is diet anyway?). Well, technically it's actually healthy because it's made with fresh pasta and tomato sauce, but it also has pork cheeks, ox tripe, beef brisket and chicken liver. I always measure a good pasta dish especially when the pasta itself is made fresh, so for me this is just so wonderful I am planning to order this one next time!

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Same with the Uni Carbonara from Backyard Manila, which is made with Uni Leek and Cream Sauce, Fish Cheese Flakes and Tobiko (fish roe). If you are not that used to uni (or sea urchin, which I just can't get enough of), this can be considered as a starter as you wouldn't be too overwhelmed with it in this dish. But I hope it's okay for me to request for a little more Uni if I do come back for this one.

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As full as I already was, nothing stopped me from trying the Slow Roasted Beef Belly, served with a mild mushroom gravy, a fried egg and laid underneath a bed of steamed barley with herbs. It was a first for me to eat steamed barley, and I wasn't used to the texture so I cannot say that I liked it very much. However, the meat was super tender and as I broke the yolk, it added a wonderful texture and flavor profile to the mild mushroom gravy. It's not my most favorite, but I think those who fancy replacing rice with other ingredients such as barley can give this dish a shot. 

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And without much ado and pretension, the craziest dish for me goes to...tenen! The Salted Egg Chicken Skin! It's fried chicken skin tossed in salted egg yolk and served with a mild chili pineapple vinegar. I don't know about you but offer this to your man or woman with (a few cups, burp) of rice and beer will keep him/her happy for the rest of the day. 

It's honest and simple that you might think of attempting to do this one at home, but I think it would be hard to capture that distinctive taste that you can only get when you visit Backyard Kitchen + Brew. 
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With over ten dishes on my tummy during that night, would I still have room for dessert? WHY OF COURSE! The Pizzookie, a soft chewy chocolate chip cookie dough that's cooked in a cast iron skillet and served with hefty scoops of mantecado ice cream is a winning end to our meal(s). It's warm, cold, fuzzy, chocolatey, sinful and I want to have more of this. I wanted to take home the skillet but it did not fit in my bag hahaha!

Chef Edward mentioned in one of his Instagram posts as he felt that Backyard Kitchen + Brew hasn't been to where it needs to be yet, but with the impressive array of dishes that I've tried, there is no doubt that Backyard Kitchen + Brew will go even farther than expected, so I highly suggest you come visit the place and find out for yourself.

Check out Backyard Kitchen + Brew online:
Backyard Manila Official Facebook Page

Backyard Manila on Instagram

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*This post was written by the writer's own thoughts about Backyard Manila.


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