A Pepper Review of Kitchen 1B: A Wholesome DisappointmentJuly 9, 2014
In Apartment 1B’s early years, it was one of those restaurants everyone talked about that had a steadfast reputation. A tiny location in the business district, and simple but well-executed food added to its charm. There were even days when we would go there at least twice a month, in love with how the place was so inviting and unpretentious.
We know the people behind this place can churn out some really good food, and maybe a new concept and some fresh ideas will spark up their kitchens again.
In the rapidly-changing Manila food scene however, the quiet legend of this tiny restaurant started to be overlooked. Places that served similar food but in a more chic setting, or those that served better versions of their bistro-style and brunch menus, eclipsed Apartment 1B. The prices of the place started to seem a little too high, and there were rumors of the quality starting to slip. I visited the place again after a long absence, and found this to sadly be true. Our nostalgia for the place however, made us eager to try their latest restaurant, Kitchen 1B. We know the people behind this place can churn out some really good food, and maybe a new concept and some fresh ideas will spark up their kitchens again.
While the place is dressed beautifully, the food and the concept is boring and unexciting.
Kitchen 1B is supposed to be a “wholesome alternative”—the organic, health-conscious sister to Apartment 1B. We are all for superfoods, for the organic movement, for sustainable and responsible eating. But this has definitely made the prices at Kitchen 1B way too steep and just a little ridiculous. There should certainly be a way to fix this problem? While the place is dressed beautifully, the food and the concept is boring and unexciting.
Eggplant croquettes, while soft, tasted nothing like eggplant, and the aioli alongside it overpowered the bland, fried logs. It was a serviceable aioli, but the punch of garlic did nothing for what it was meant to complement. A Monte Cristo was a sad excuse for one, with bread way too thick and dense. The ham, chicken, and cheese, were all in dismal amounts, hidden by the gargantuan bread, and lacking any sort of flavor. A strawberry jam accompanying it tried to support the sandwich, but the sweetness was again way too overpowering.
A stuffed porkchop was actually cooked perfectly well, but it did not justify the price. It also came with a huge side of onion jam—again way too sweet. There was also way too much of it on the plate, and with its overpowering sweetness, should have been a sauce, and not a side.
Dessert was dismal too—an attempt to be healthy meant that the crumble on poached pineapples and coconut cream were made of quinoa. Oats or granola would have been just as healthy, and would have definitely lent themselves better to being toasted with sugar. The quinoa, while crunchy, burns easily when toasted, and left an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
The wholesome concept is great, but this is snooze food.
We have a lot of faith in this group of restaurants, but they are in a rut. The wholesome concept is great, but this is snooze food. If there was just a little more flavor, just a little more finesse, then this could turn into a hit with more than just the health-conscious crowd.