Read with British twang: Hey geezer, are yeh peckish for some bleedin’ mint British food in Manila? Laddy, I hae the gaff for yeh. When in Manila and in the mood for English cuisine, google no further and head to Bowler Restaurant in Salcedo Village, Makati City. They have the gaff—I mean, food—to satisfy your palate for Fish and Chips, English Pies, and Bangers.
Good thing, one of the restaurant owners is a colleague and friend. My co-teacher, Paolo Suapengco, invited us months ago to visit his restaurant. (Don’t ask me why he insists on still being a teacher despite the fact that he owns a restaurant. We’ll tell you the same thing: it’s crazy, but we love teaching!) To be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything at all on my first visit to Bowler—I thought it would be a modest restaurant with a poster of the Big Ben or something like that. So imagine how my jaws dropped when I saw how awesome the place looked! There were matching chandeliers and “London stuff” like miniature red phone booth and even the Gothic feel of London pubs. The only few things missing were a large television, showing sports game, and British pub drinkers, splashing their mugs of beer all over the floor and yelling, “Bloody hell!” Contrary to this unsightly authentic London pub ambience, Bowler Restaurant is rather a smart-casual restaurant, perfect for the Makati Yuppies who are just looking for a good place to hang out after a tiring day at work. And true enough, many of them frequent the place as the venue is at the heart of so many business offices near Paseo Center.
Paolo Suapengco and his bowler hat; he is one of the owners of Bowler Restaurant.
I told Paolo yesterday that I was interested in writing a restaurant review after the positive feedback I got on my first review here on WhenInManila. He told me that maybe we would go next month. Fast forward to ten hours ago, on our way to an official school event, I asked him if it was possible to visit Bowler Restaurant today since we were only half day and noon time would be great for taking photos of the food. Eventually he agreed, and I tagged along my friend EJ to revisit Paolo’s fantastic London-inspired restaurant.
EJ and Paolo in red. Haha! Excuse the uniform, we just came from an official school event.
We started our lunch with refreshments. EJ, reminiscing his trip to UK a few years ago, ordered English Breakfast Tea, while I, still feeling the Makati noon heat, got the Strawberry Mango Smoothie. Delish. I fished my iPhone from my pocket and started taking photos around. After that, I asked Paolo about the humble beginnings of the restaurant.
EJ and the Brits love their English Breaksfast Tea.
Strawberry Mango Smoothie for me!
Bowler Restaurant is part of Cinq Chapeaux company, which is French for “five hats”. The company currently still has only two ‘hat-named restaurants’ in Metro Manila. The first is Fez, a Moroccan kind of hat, hence, the restaurant offers a sort of African-inspired cuisine in Fort Bonifacio, while Bowler, for those who are not familiar with the kind, is of British type. (Remember the hat Charlie Chaplin wore in the films where he starred as The Tramp? Yes, that’s the one.) This explains why Bowler is a UK-inspired restaurant; Paolo emphasized the modifier “inspired” as they made the British food more palatable to Filipinos’ taste. EJ agreed and shared that the British cuisine is usually perceived as bland and not tasteful, but with the help of MonDay Chefs in the resto’s first few weeks, they improved on the taste of the ‘authentic’ British food. Paolo, together with eight other partners, opened the restaurant back in 2009. And since then, it has become popular through the patronage of regular yuppie customers. Paolo was also happy to share that many European and American expats also love the food they offer.
And so the food came! I savored their Potato Leek Soup, creamy potato and leeks puree with alfalfa sprouts and leek garnish, while Paolo spooned through his Pumpkin Pesto Soup, a refreshing soup with a drizzle of pesto oil.
Potato Leek Soup
In my first visit, I remembered having foodgasmic experience eating their Mum’s Roasted Chicken. I wanted to relive the experience, so I ordered the same thing; Paolo ordered Bangers and Mash. A few seconds after taking photos of these entree, I attacked the roasted spring half-chicken with loads of garlic and herbs, smothered with gravy and my choice of two sides, roasted veggies and rice pilaf. It was as AMAZING as I remembered it. I took a bite from Paolo’s plate and tasted the sausage or, as the Brits call it, Bangers and was surprised to taste a different kind of spice in the meat, mixed with the sweetness of the caramelized onions on top.
My personal favorite: Mum’s Roasted Chicken!
Bangers and Mash
EJ got the token UK food, Fish and Chips, and we started having conversations about how in the UK, they serve this dish with malt vinegar along with the tartar sauce. EJ was pleased to see an authentic British malt vinegar on his plate. He also commended the way the dish was served—on the paper, as customary in English restos and pubs. The taste? It’s classic fish and chips but with extra hints of saltiness and spice as suitable for the Filipino palate.
Fish and Chips, served with authentic British malt vinegar and tartar sauce
Feeling excited for this review, Paolo also shared with us his personal pick from the menu, the Sweet Sausage Pasta, creamy white topped with sweet sausages and ham. I speared my fork on his plate and I could see why he loves this dish. It’s easy on the tongue and the sweetness reminded me of happy thoughts—no exaggeration here. Haha!
Paolo’s personal pick: Sweet Sausage Pasta!
Overall, the experience in Bowler Restaurant was fan-bloody-tastic! You get to immerse yourself in a stylized London Pub in Manila, oozing with refinement and artsy British aesthetics. There’s still a lot of dishes they offer: I have yet to try their English Pies, Prime Lunch Specials, Guiness Beef Stew, Duke’s Rib Eye Steak, Yorktown Strip, Central London BBQ Ribs, and many more!
Is it really just a restaurant? Laddy, I’m afraid not! Because Bowler also holds special night events: Rockeoke Nights on Mondays, DJ Nights on Wednesdays and Fridays, and Acoustic Nights on Saturdays. And of course, this means they serve fantastic cocktails and alcoholic drinks. This spells bloody awesome night for hangout or party!
London Party in Manila? You bet.
When in Manila, be sure to try some bloody amazing British food at Bowler Resturant!
Bowler Restaurant: British Food in Manila
Ground Floor Paseo Parkview Suites, Valero cor. Sedeno Streets,
Salcedo Village, Makati City
Open from 11AM to 3AM
For inquiries and reservations, please call (02) 894 3589