At the fifth-floor SkyPark of SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, streams of people frequently go through the glass doors and into a spacious hall, where they join other diners partaking of feasts. There is a vibe of a cafeteria, a food court or a dining hall, where the space is conducive for communal eating, but it is more well-appointed and the food better well-prepared and delicious.
The menu describes itself: “Our food hall is all about quality local food with provenance. Here you will find the best of house-made items and locally sourced ingredients, presented in a communal atmosphere. Our menu items are best enjoyed shared, passed around the table. The possibility exists to meet someone new, whether to strike up a conversation or share recommendations over what to order. Our mix of cuisine is eclectic and inspired, but rest assured there is no ‘bad’ seat in the house since you can order anything from anywhere.”
|The Pasta Station|
The Todd English Food Hall has recently opened and it has been attracting the foodies of Metro Manila. It is the first restaurant of a celebrity chef to open in the Philippines, and the Philippines is the first and only branch of The Food Hall of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
The 53-year-old, multi-awarded American celebrity chef Todd English, who also owns and/or manages Todd English P.U.B, Bonfire, Figs, Tuscany at Mohegan Sun Casino, Ember Room, Beso and others, flew in late March to open Todd English Food Hall.
The restaurant was brought in through the efforts of Concenti Globali of the Dee family, led by patriarch Rikki Dee, which owns Ebun, Mangan, Chin’s Express, Inihaw Express, Cerveceria, Isogi and Kai. The Dees revealed that they are planning to open another Todd English restaurant, Figs or Todd English P.U.B. of CityCentre in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Designer Ivy Almario and her team were employed to design the European-inspired specialty food hall, approximating the look of the New York branch. The Metro Manila restaurant is bigger at 900 square meters with mosaic marble floors, elegant wood paneling, ceramic backdrops and stained-glass windows.
|Preparing the famous flatbreads|
|Doing the dimsums|
|The tuna tartare|
The Food Hall has nine cooking stations just like in many hotels, but it is not a buffet restaurant. The live stations are a way for diners to see how the dishes are prepared.
The Pasta Station is adorned with pastas of different colors hung to dry. The Food Hall makes fresh pastas and sauces every day. Try the veal agnolotti (P90), creamy and subtle, the ravioli-like pasta chewy. The station makes goat cheese ravioli (P530) as well as the American favorite mac and cheese (P390), which you can add on crab or lobster.
At the Pizza Station, you can find one of the things the restaurant is famous for—Todd English’s flatbread pizzas. Indeed, using simple and fresh ingredients, the pizzas are really delectable. This is very true for Todd’s signature flatbread (P380) with tomato sauce, Mozarella, basil and parmesan. Other flatbread flavors are crispy eggplant (P460) with talegio, caramelized onion and baby spinach salad; fig and prosciutto flatbread (P530) with fig jam, gorgonzola, rosemary, prosciutto and scallions; the Bronx Bomber (P490) with tomato sauce, Mozarella, pepperoni, caramelized onion, parmesan and parsley; and the truffle fungi (P700) with truffle vinaigrette, mixed mushrooms, fontina and parsley.
The Salad and Charcutterie Station offers homemade salad mixes and dressings such as the Simple Salad (P285) with mixed greens, grilled corn, cherry tomato, shallot vinaigrette and olive oil. The Iceberg Wedge Salad (P420) has Iceberg wedge lettuce, homemade smoked bacon, hard-boiled eggs, avocado and cherry tomato with smoked bacon vinaigrette and creamy blue cheese dressing. The station also has farmstead and artisan cheeses, as well as cured dried meats.
Asian dishes are made at the Asian Station such as noodles, rice and handmade dumplings.
The Grill Station offers very good burgers and sliders. Its classic burger (P300) is made of freshly ground four-cut meat burger patty, tomato, Iceberg lettuce, mustard relish, T.E. sauce, cheddar and toasted homemade brioche bun. Aside the sliders, there are roast chicken (P320), homemade bacon (P450), pork chops (P430) and duck (P650). The Ocean Grill offers seared scallops (P620) and salt-crusted whole baramundi (P850), among others.
For more seafood, the Raw Bar has oysters, clams, shrimps, prawns, tuna and salmon. A master sushi chef at the Sushi Bar makes fresh sushi rolls. The Wine Bar has well-curated wine selections and cocktails made by a master mixologist. At the Dessert and Bread Bar, an array of sweets and homemade ice creams is laid out punctuated by a big rotating cupcake wheel.
With the entry of the Todd English Food Hall, the local dining scene has become more exciting, helping elevate Metro Manila as one of the gastronomic spots in Asia.
From left: Chef Todd English, vice president Oliver English, managing director Eric Dee and Rikki Dee