Like an exotic animal that was in hibernation during the two-year community quarantines, Poblacion, Makati is slowly waking up. Face-to-face stuff is making a comeback, but with an apparent “changing of the guard” in play.
If before the pandemic, Poblacion was considered the meeting place for children, there has been a kind of gentrification, and a slightly older crowd now makes Poblacion their playground with company-type meetings for lunches or for cocktails after work. One of the figureheads in this process of crowds returning should be chef Sau del Rosario, and how he opened, thrived and sustained his Café Fleur on Enriquez Street amid the pandemic.
Some called him reckless for launching the establishment when most of the neighborhood was still in shutdown mode, but he saw an opportunity. Café Fleur is now firmly established as one of the new neighborhood beacons, and it caters to a more demanding clientele, more attentive to the food and drink they consume.
Dr. Wine in nearby Algiers, the Blackwell area, recently opened its namesake rooftop bar, taking over from the elders who ran the rooftop. A small event sponsored by Happy Living and their sangria Lolea was a great way to announce how Dr Wine was now taking care of the downstairs restaurant and wine bar as well as the rooftop lounge. Yes, it’s several flights of stairs to reach the rooftop, but what’s a bit of cardio when the party awaits?
Do I hear the strains of that oldie pop hit “All Night Long?” Because the night I dropped by, it was obvious how happy the early crowd was, just partying with Vincent from Dr. Wine and Julian from Happy Living once again. So I can easily imagine how the well-lubricated nighttime crowd will be louder and linger until the early hours. Let’s just hope those flights of stairs don’t become the problem when you get home.
Last weekend, Sau hosted a double culinary event with renowned Italian, Cebu-based chef Marco Anzani. Saturday night at One World Kitchen on Kalayaan Avenue, there was a special tasting dinner with Chef Marco. And just by word of mouth, the twenty places were sold. Having been fortunate enough to have been invited to a preview of the media lunch, I can say that the twenty guests were delighted to taste the dinner of chef Marco who was accompanied here in Manila by his charming wife Kate Dychangco-Anzani and their daughter.
I especially liked the homemade grappa salmon and dried beetroot salad with chive sour cream. You had two versions of sour cream to play with, depending on how intense you wanted it to impact the salmon cubes. The saffron infused lobster wrapped in prosecco flavored passata was the second favorite on the tasting menu.
The next morning, Chef Sau collaborated with Chef Marco on a brunch at Café Fleur which drew enthusiastic diners, as brunch started at 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. It was Café Fleur’s French toast, scalloped with strawberries. and blueberries, accompanied by chef Marco’s porchetta with pesto sauce and his leg of lamb. Issa devoured the porchetta while I’ve always been fond of lamb. Pasta and pizza were also part of the brunch menu, and it was a hearty mid-morning meal, as you could also choose to partake in the airy meats and Italian cheeses.
Attending the opening of the Dr. Wine Rooftop Bar and the two Anzani X Del Rosario culinary events, I was transported back to a pre-pandemic “normality”. Masks and precautions were still in place, but it was a touching reminder of how life goes on and that Poblacion is at the forefront of what’s happening in our beautiful city.
Let election fever rage elsewhere, here it was all about good food and good company, and the belief that we truly bask not only in the scorching summer sun, but also in the light at the end of this COVID-tunnel.
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