Restaurants / Bars

Try This: South Pub Corns their Crispy Pata and Stuffs Sisig into a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

August 19, 2017

In the past decade there was San Mig—a pub in Alabang Town Center popular among locals in the 90’s. Chef Jinggoy Fernando, then in high school, reminisces: “I’d get drunk there a lot, and the food was great . . . everyone from different ages would get together, so it was more or less our ‘community pub’.” Along with other bars in the area at the time (including Fat Tuesdays, Steps, and the original branch of Cable Car), they would come to form the 90’s Alabang bar scene which not only offered great grub, but also a distinctive easygoing vibe that epitomizes the South’s reputation as the more laid-back side of Manila. Though the San Mig establishment still stands today (it goes by the name Players but is under a different management), its popularity would sadly diminish through the years and take on a “different vibe” that hardly compares to that of its heyday. But its legacy as the winning gathering place of the 90’s Alabang community stands—and it is this legacy that they wish to continue at South Pub.

Although the thought of such a tavern may bring to mind images of noisy crowds and rowdy drinking—not to mention bathrooms of questionable levels of cleanliness—South Pub relives the good ol’ days with its relaxed ambience and friendly atmosphere, where diners can kick back and relax within its cozy quarters of hushed gray brick walls and sleek wooden tables. Though only about two months old, they’ve already built up a crowd of regulars of friends, families, and even solo diners looking to unwind over good food and drinks.

You’ll find all your favorite comfort-food reliables on the menu: burgers, pizza, pulutan favorites like sisig, and more—some of which pay ode to iconic dishes from the old Alabang bars (e.g. their Crispy Adobo Rice, inspired by a similar signature dish at Cable Car). More than that, Fernando describes the menu at South Pub to be highly personal—a “collection of my entire life”, to be exact—with dishes that have personal stories behind their creations or made as he envisions them to be best (e.g., his favorite dish of Fried chicken made “just the way I like it”). While the chef leans toward a cooking philosophy that is “straightforward”, emphasizing good execution over frills and fuss, he incorporates more innovative techniques where they can help improve the original—e.g. the use of the sous-vide machine to make for a most tender Spatchcock Chicken.

For drinks, take your pick from beers (both local and imported, though Fernando shares they are looking to bring in more craft varieties), wine, spirits, or one of their cocktails (mostly classic ones done well, but with a few signatures, e.g. the South Lady cocktail with Stolichnaya Vodka, calamansi, orange juice, egg whites and syrup).

Here are just some of the menu’s stellar gems:

Chipirones

The addition of this relatively light starter to the menu was inspired by Fernandez’s trip to Spain, right before South Pub’s opening. “That Spain trip meant a lot to me because before we opened I was hesitant about a lot of things, like what to cook [or] offer,” he admits. “What they do there [though] is [to do] very simple things, but they do it very well. That gave me the inspiration to do the same thing.” Though simple on paper— baby squid topped with a fried egg and served with bread—it makes for a stellar combination, with the natural umami of squid (sautéed just enough that it remains melt-in-the-mouth tender) and the richness of runny-centered eggs.

The Allison

This deadly dish is cheekily named after its (accidental) creator, “Allison”—a regular who, they share, got drunk at the restaurant one night and requested for an order of their plain grilled cheese sandwich already on the menu—but have it stuffed with another existing menu item: sisig. Ridiculous as it sounds, it works, with part-piquant, part-unctous sisig vivifying the ooey, gooey cheese. It’s deliberately fatty and makes for a great pair with beer, but be sure to dip it into the tomato soup served alongside—a properly tart, hearty soup that helps to counter the sandwich’s heft.

Corned Crispy Pata

Crispy pata as drinking grub is a no-brainer, but South Pub’s version is one-of-a-kind. Here, Fernando employs the method of ‘corning’ meat—where it is brined for 36 hours—to enhance and bring out the flavors of the pig shank, before giving it a good dunk in the deep-fryer. The result is pata that’s crispy on the outside but tender inside, as is proper, with a distinct savoriness we’d compare to corned beef (for obvious reasons). Go for the flavors of German tradition with a quick dip in the zippy mustard on the side—or all-Filipino with the quintessential chili-flecked toyo and atsara.


South Pub

An easygoing community pub that aims to relive the legacy of the Alabang bar scene.

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She is a cheapskate in other aspects of her life, preferring to use her savings on specialty vinegars and degustation menus. While she admits to eating out too much, cooking and baking remain her first love, and she's always looking for quirky new ways to use up seasonal produce. Thanks to her obsession with (unnecessarily) making everything from scratch, she is now desperate to clear her fridge full of homemade condiments. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.
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