Restaurants / Bars

Grind Bistro: New Classics Done With Precision

July 15, 2016

Grind Bistro, for whatever reason, has seemed to fly under the radar. The barely-open restaurant in increasingly-hip Net Park now has two more casual outlets springing up in the city, but fewer than usual outlets have picked up their scent. Is it because it lacks any telltale signs of the food trends that are saturating the city, or is perhaps eclipsed by the riotous opening of yet another foreign casual fast food chain? Whatever the reason may be, it is criminal. What husband and wife team Steven and Cristina Carl have created is the antithesis to concepts that merely follow the tide, without creating pleasurable results.

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Popcorn Shrimp, P350; Laguna Farmer’s Salad, P350.

For years, the Carls lived across the United States, building years of experience in the industry (Steven for example, has been the food and beverage director of several Hyatt hotels from Maui to Miami) before taking a huge leap last year from their frenetic lives to another one which offered both risk, and a chance to raise their children in Cristina’s native country. “It’s kind of like going back to my roots,” says Steven, who began his career by working in smaller private restaurants, working in the kitchen everyday. Now, he uses those years of knowledge to maintain Grind Bistro’s stellar quality, overseeing every single thing that gets put on a plate.

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Sliders, P395; Cheese on Rye, P350.

While the space was originally meant to be just a burger joint, the menu has slightly expanded to include dishes that show off the Carls’ affinity for details. A commissary upstairs is responsible for baking the bread on their menu, and ingredients of salads are flexible with the season. “We knew from the very beginning that if we were going to do this, everything was going to be scratch-made because this is just what we do. Even when we have dinner parties at home, this is how the food is made. If Steven says- ‘Oh, this component would be great with this!’, the only way you can make sure it will go well together is if you make it yourself.” Case in point—a house-made rye for their grilled cheese uses a recipe that comes from Steven’s Eastern-European ancestors.

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Rib-eye, P2200.

Updated American bistro classics are sure to be done with careful precision; popcorn shrimp are light pockets of air, dressed in mirin and wasabi aioli, and Steven’s in-house unagi sauce made with a five-spice marinade and the cooking liquid for their pork, reduced until sticky and thick. Nachos recall their time in Maui, with a fine poke of ahi tuna underneath local cheese, and dollops of orange and wasabi tobiko providing little bright pops of saltiness. A standout nutty black chicken is definitely anti-social media, but embraces Asian, American, and Italian elements, fusing them in a way which should never work but does. The graphic black tempura insulates the chicken and creates an incredibly moist and tender bird whose juices run when sliced into. It is pretty deft cooking.

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Grind Burger, P395; Nutty Black Chicken, P550.

The latter part of the menu also serves some great surprises—of course, their burgers and meat are executed well, with their mince ground daily, creating a patty that has integrity, a little more chew, so that it is ‘steak-y’ and cooked with a crust, but is all tender and slightly pink inside. Even desserts maintain quality, with their dedicated pastry chef making their ice cream and sorbets in-house too, with a quenelle of their tart yogurt flavor enhancing a calamansi pie that comes with a slick of grassy basil puree.

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Calamansi Pie, P320.

There was once an old belief, at least in Manila years ago, that only great food could be found in hotels. What the Carls have done is given us the standard and finesse we have come to expect from both hotel food and service, but in a setting that is infinitely less intimidating, and much more approachable. Grind Bistro has all the potential to become a go-to for uncomplicated, delicious grub—it should be time to make some noise for it.

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Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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5 comments in this post SHOW

5 responses to “Grind Bistro: New Classics Done With Precision”

  1. Jonathan Nespral says:

    To be honest, the details of your posts, for me, has somewhat been on the decline. Case in point, the above stated article, though well written, is lacking the detail labels (what is the item as offered on the menu and the listed price) which i used to notice on most of your previous articles covering restaurant reviews. For me, it was a good gauge to determine if the price was worth the quantity as featured/marketed. Hope you guys can return tis little detail in your future feature articles.

    • エ片 says:

      Venturing into their own restaurant businesses and having tons more of “connections” within the industry, it was inevitable that they have gone from openly criticizing value(w/c their tasteless group also lacks) to obvious sponsored posts to being the state of which it is today: vapid, shallow and well…tasteless.

      Such a shame. So much journalistic potential down the drain. I guess that may never have been the point.

      • Jonathan Nespral says:

        Yes thats true… It is a sad decline from some interesting reading.. I used to like reading their articles, but it seems they had transferred more to pandering rather than the basic unbiased reporting and informative reading.. i guess it was inevitable..

      • Pamela Cortez says:

        Hey guys, ethics is incredibly important to us folks at Pepper. You can read more here: http://www.pepper.ph/code-of-ethics/. We are careful not to give ratings on articles where we’ve been invited, and make sure the difference between these and our reviews are subtle but still present (reviews for example, have the name review in the title, and have a more detailed information box below, which includes recommendations whether to visit or not). We’re also developing a disclaimer for this very purpose, so we hope you still stick around for that.

        The restaurant industry in the Philippines is very small, and it’s inevitable that in our line of work we develop friendships with chefs and restaurateurs, but review or not, we screen every restaurant that we choose to write about, and have a ticklist before we even consider writing about something, which usually includes a previous visit sans owners.

        As for our connections with the Tasteless group, our founders have given the current team free reign, and are no longer directly involved in content creation. They are afforded the same screening as everyone else, and pay for sponsored content as any other client.

    • Pamela Cortez says:

      Hi there Jonathan, updated the prices. We usually do this for every post, but seem to have missed these details for this article. You can find them above!

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