Husband-and-wife Carlo and Kristine Bayaban are trained chefs – Kristine with a degree in culinary, and Carlo, a sought-after master butcher presently employed in one of the country’s most prestigious hotel chains. Together, the tandem whips up a menu of comfort food made almost entirely from scratch, most of it dishes they serve and eat in their own household.
On the surface, Butcher’s Kitchen (BK) seem like your typical hole-in-the-wall restaurant – something fairly common in this part of Marikina. Its interiors are small and quaint, almost lacking character save for the exposed grilling station, and the re-purposed car-mugs that now function as ambient lighting – a telltale, I later found out, of owner Carlo’s fondness for cars and racing. Outside is a long wooden table facing a wall with graffiti-like drawings of a wine bottle, cow, pig, sheep, and chicken – one on top of the other, like a carnivore’s grungy two-dimensional version of a totem pole. They say, “Don’t judge the book by its cover,” but in the case of the Butcher’s Kitchen, “don’t judge the restaurant by its facade” is probably more appropriate.
Chefs Kristine and Carlo (photobombed by their son Nathan) with BK’s crew
Car mugs for lighting
A no-fuss al fresco dining
A carnivore’s graffiti
You’re sure to do a double-take once food starts coming to your table. The most obvious reason: impeccable and sophisticated plating. The dishes are reminiscent of fine dining but then you look around and the area is as unfussy as it gets. It was weird at first, sure, but there’s no mistaking, in Butcher’s Kitchen, the food is the main star.
The Cheese Quesadillas (Php135), for example, make for a great first gustatory impression. Oozing with cheesy goodness and traces of pesto, it surprisingly ends up whetting your appetite instead of spoiling it. It’s flavorful and not at all cloying.
If you’re looking for something a bit more familiar, then go for BK’s best selling Pan De Burger with a serving of freshly made potato fries (Php164). With an original-recipe patty on pandesal buns, it’s a way to get your dose of junkfood without the junk and guilt. Pair it with an order of Chicken Wings (Php149 for 6 pcs; Php299 for 12) and a 750ml Rootbeer Float (Php150) and you can already call it a day.
Guilt-free comfort food
You can never go wrong with Chicken Wings
Towering Rootbeer Float with two scoops of vanilla ice cream
If you want a more carbo-laden meal, however, either BK’s Fresh Lemonade (Php85) or Fresh Brew Iced Tea (Php55) goes very well with any one of their pasta dishes. Trick someone into eating fish by feeding them BK’s Creamy Tuna Pasta (Php140). It’s like your well-loved birthday spaghetti only instead of pork or beef, you’ll have tuna!!
Iced Tea and Lemonade (sounds like a name for a rap duo)
Yummy Creamy Tuna Pasta
The Chicken Pesto Pasta (Php165), meanwhile, tastes fresh and, like the Cheese Quesadilla, amazingly does not leave an aftertaste. It is generously sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, taming the wild flavors of the pesto.
Parmesan and Pesto heaven
Wrapping up BK’s trio of pasta offerings is the Classic Carbonara (Php165). It’s a safe choice for picky eaters, but admittedly isn’t distinctive enough to make it stand out from all the other carbonaras out there – which I think, in retrospect, might be the point since it’s “classic” carbonara?
At any rate, the recurring theme among the three pasta dishes is the mild taste. Even the pesto, which I described as wild, is mellow compared to other pesto pastas I’ve tried.
This, I learned, is because BK does not use MSG or any artificial seasonings in their dishes. Natural Flavors is the name of the game here in BK.