Skull and Bones (by the Guys Behind The Bowery) Offers College-Inspired GrubNovember 11, 2014
College food has a lousy reputation around the world, usually relegated to microwave burritos and cup noodles or anything greasy, heavy and cheap. No matter how far from gourmet this food is, this kind of grub always holds nostalgia for anyone who’s gone many sleepless nights living off of the microwave. Skull and Bones was born out of this nostalgia. A new concept by the group behind successful restaurants Borough, Nolita, LES Bagels, and The Bowery, it serves up the kind of food you wish you had when you were in college—heftier, upscale versions of stuff you loved back then.
While their previous outings were all inspired by New York, Skull and Bones is an entirely different creature. The menu comes from our conception of university grub—from classic TV shows and movies; stuff that you’d definitely see Van Wilder or Harold & Kumar downing while on their latest shenanigan. Chef Cuit Kaufman remembers his days at George Washington University, where all he had was a tiny kitchenette and a hot plate to create any type of meal, living off boxed mac and cheese and cup noodles. Because of Skull and Bones’s location near UP and Ateneo, the partners dreamt up their ideal version of a college experience, and decided to inject it into their space. There’s everything from burritos to burgers to an intriguing section labeled “Not Your Instant Ramen”.
The food, as to be expected from the group, is better than good. While a little pricy for the area, it delivers on exactly what they promise—greasy grub made just a little more grown-up. The BBQ pulled pork didn’t skimp on the ingredients, and was of much better value than what some Mexican shacks have been churning out. A chili cheesedog was good for two, with homemade rolls that were soft with every touch. The gigantic dog was slathered in enough chili to fill a bowl, with flavors that were spicy, deep and intense, then the all-beef frank was covered in enough cheese to bring it to the right side of salty. Our hands-down favourite was Chef Cuit’s take on instant ramen, which had me weak at the knees. The bowl was generous and comforting, and is something people will come back for, and something I wished they served in their establishments nearer to my stomping grounds. Chef Cuit uses all the ramen techniques in creating his bowls (24 hour stock, for example), but adds tongue-in-cheek ingredients and flavours to make them reminiscent of cup noodles. We had a gingered pork which was sweet, salty, and all sorts of umami, but he’s dreaming up some more versions, like a pork satay and beef BBQ.
As usual, it is the desserts and pastries section where Skull and Bones shines, with everything made in house by the chef. Fluffernutter and Fluffernuteller sandwiches are no-brainer crowd pleasers, with a crumby, moist brioche surrounding a mound of Nutella, peanut butter, and homemade marshmallow fluff. There are twinkies that are baked fresh, and full of glorious, sweet cream, and some are even rolled in raspberry and coconut to mimic lamingtons. A dark chocolate cupcake blows a lot of the treats on the market out of the water, sinful, dense and dark, with a hidden surprise in the center. Rice krispie treats are made with brown butter and homemade marshmallows, which you feel guilty for preferring over the ones you made with your mom for the monthly bake sale. Chef Cuit plans to put his homemade pop tarts on the menu soon, and those are bound to be a sugary heart attack.
Is this going to be a home run for the folks behind Skull and Bones? Fans of their previous restaurants will be satisfied for sure, and this menu reads like everyone’s guilty pleasure. I can only imagine that all this grub will taste even better after a round of beer pong, or on a night downing syrupy cocktails after your final exam is over.
Have you tried Skull and Bones’ version of college eats? What were your favourite meals during your time at university? Let us know below!
Skull and Bones
Address: 2nd Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave, Diliman