Sunday, July 31, 2016

No Other Way but One Way

Where Salcedo Street ends in Legazpi Village of Makati City, the country’s financial hub, it can get a tad quiet. Though still part of the business center, the area is off the shopping and dining hubs and is characterized by the back view of imposing buildings. There is a couple of residential condominiums and a few stores. A small art gallery just opened. And at the corner of Salcedo and Benavidez Street, behind the one-way sign, perhaps the most noticeable thing on the street is a restaurant named One Way.
The area is not known as a dining hub, but “we hope to pioneer a dining scene here,” said wine connoisseur and distributor Ronald Lim Joseph.
The director of the Philippine Wine Merchants co-owns the restaurant at the ground floor of the Concorde Building, which was first a wine bar called Nectar with a predominantly Greek menu, with his brother Ralph.
“Then a bunch of friends came in. We changed the concept and the whole menu,” Joseph related.
Seminal to that change is consul of Lebanon Joseph Assad, who tasted pizza with crust made from sourdough for the first time in 2012 at a restaurant called The Luggage Room in Pasadena, California. He recounted the experience in One Way’s Web site: “I was flabbergasted! It was the best pizza I ever had in my 60 years of pizzastromy! I was in Pizza Heaven! I was in love! It was a major revelation! It’s the toppings that normally make a great pizza but in this case it was not just the toppings it was the crust. The sourdough had that extra tangy bite to it that the normal plain white dough pizzas do not have. I truly fell in love with this sourdough pizza.”
When he got back to Manila, he told of his discovery to the Joseph brothers and began his search for sourdough bread and pizza, which led him to chef Harold Nilooban. A family lunch with Nilooban cooking made him decide to open a restaurant pulling in the Josephs, executive Nando Ortigas and “nightlife legend” Louie Ysmael. They transformed the Josephs’ wine bar into One Way Restaurant, which formally opened in March 2014.
One immediately notices, upon entering One Way, that the design motif is inspired by the iconic street sign—predominantly striped with black and white. Diners who come in in outfits that match the interiors need not fret; they get a surprise prize. Breaking the preponderance of black-and-white stripes are framed photographs riddled the walls, mostly of people, friends and visitors of the owners, enjoying the food and company.
The main dining area can accommodate about 120 persons, and there is a small deli and bakery for breakfast and sandwiches. Equipped with its own entrance is the Tasting Room, which can accommodate up to 18 persons and can be used for small conferences, meetings, get-togethers, etc.
Here, we sampled some of One Way’s bestsellers, prepared by its new Ukrainian chef Vitaliy Lavrenchuk, with wines (and wine education) courtesy of Ronald Joseph. 
“We don’t push it to be a fine-dining restaurant,” Joseph said of the restaurant. “It’s not fine dining, but you get fine dining food and experience without the fine dining prices.”
The menu is predominantly European with smattering of American. Most of the dishes are all-time favorites ? “comfort food,” they like to say currently.     
While lunch was being prepared, canapés of shrimp cocktail on multigrain bread with balsamic and garlic butter allayed our hunger. A welcome drink of a slushie of lemon and generous helpings of basil and mint was a goblet of sunshine, perking one up.
Lunch started off with cream of wild mushroom soup (P290), served in a bowl of hallowed out bread, freshly baked and made from sourdough. Not cloyingly rich but hefty with ample pieces of mushrooms, the soup was thoroughly enjoyable, which made me scrape out the bottom and sides of the bread bowl, bread pieces dissolving into the soup that got thicker.
Lavrenchuk immediately rolled out their pizzas, the two bestselling kinds with thin sourdough crust. The Mediterranean pizza (P590) has toppings of goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh basil, capers and salami, while the Pamplona pizza (P580) has jamon Serrano, Spanish spicy chorizo, cherry tomato, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and lemon dressing.
Bright red and festive-looking, Pamplona was unanimously the favorite, with the salty and smoky flavors of the meats perfect for the light sourness of the dressing. Toppings complemented also the sourdough crust, which is chewy and more flavorful than the ordinary crust.
“We’re pushing for the sourdough,” Joseph said. Indeed, the pizza has become one of the popular items in One Way, which offers five kinds. You can even create your own pizza (for P680) with about 15 toppings to choose from.
Sourdough is used for their breads, which can be savored as Danish-style open-faced sandwiches and burgers (from P360 to 480).
Their pastas are also noteworthy. We tried the cream of aligue (crab fat) spaghetti (P370) which had baby prawns, crab paste, cognac and cream, and the red pesto (P360) linguine with Spanish-style sardines and sundried tomato. The sauces were blended well, with interesting flavors harmonizing like symphony.
The entrees employed much effort to prepare. The classic French dish coq au vin (chicken braised in white wine) with rice pilaf and green pea puree (P490) was tastier than I previously had, but the three-hour melot-braised lamb shank with pimiento risotto (P990 for single and P1,350 for size meant for sharing) was a delight, with the meat sliding off the bones, drenched in rich tangy sauce.
Capping the meal was one of their crepe flavors-the Mango Jubilee-prepared in a flamb‚ by the table.
As much as the dishes, the wines were also stars.
“Our wine selection is probably the most extensive in the whole country because we’re wine importers,” boasted Joseph.
He picked the wines that best go with the dish, not minding anymore the red wine-for-meat rule. He said that it is best to gauge body when pairing-light wine for light dishes. For the mushroom soup, he recommended Angas Brut, dry chardonnay from Australia, while the pizzas were accompanied by Valpolicella from Verona, Italy. It was Pirramimma from McLaren Vale, South Australia, for the pastas. The crepe was paired with the sweet Gancia Asti sparkling wine from Italy.
While they can whimsical with the design of the restaurant, One Way takes their foods and wines seriously, taking much effort to prepare them. And that’s the way dining should be-earnest in cooking, light-hearted in eating.

One Way Restaurant is at 206 Salcedo Street corner Benavidez Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, Metro Manila, with telephone number 869-8958 and mobile number 0906-5572588.

Black-and-white stripes is the dominant design  of the restaurant's interiors

Three-hour merlot lamb shank
Cream of aligue pasta
Cream of wild mushroom soup

Mango Jubilee
Mediterranean pizza

Pamplona Pizza
Red pesto pasta with sardines
Three-hour merlot lamb shank
Preparing the Mango Jubilee
The chef

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