When In Manila, there are certain restaurants we visit depending on our cravings. A pizza place for something Italian, a hotpot restaurant for something Chinese and so on. But what if we’re not really sure what we want? What if we just reaaaallly want to eat something good and different? Don’t you wish we could just add and remove items on the menu or mix it around to satisfy our cravings sometimes? Well then go no further, coz at The Blackboard, nothing on the menu is permanent except the quality and splendor of these dishes!
Lots of dining space on the outside and SEVERAL function rooms at the back
Being a teacher, it’s pretty obvious why the name BLACKBOARD caught my attention. I was curious why they chose such a name for a restaurant and started looking it up online. That’s when I discovered that The Blackboard cooks a variety of dishes, may it be Asian, Italian, Western, French, Mediterranean, etc. You name it, they got it! …or at least Chef Michel will do his best in whipping up whatever your tummy desires.
The concept is simple – NO PRINTED MENUS. In coming up with the name, Chef Michel and his partner Issa thought hard of a name where they could easily change the menu. Jokingly, Chef Michel said “Blackboard” and the rest was history. The concept started when the couple were in Kuala Lumpur. They put up a restaurant with the same name there in 2008 for 3 years before moving to the Philippines. Upon moving here, they joined the Cravings Group and opened The Blackboard at The Podium Mall last November 2013.
What makes The Blackboard special is not just the interior or the dishes, but Chef Michel himself! He has such an amazing personality and just loves chatting with the diners that you come back simply because you wanted to visit him. His personality also reflects on his dishes.
Chef Michel handling the Buffet
What makes The Blackboard Special?
- Chef-centric and Diner-centric – As Issa said so herself, The Blackboard’s menu is very “chef-centric” such that Chef Michel decides every morning what he is serving that day. Then again, it is also very “diner-centric” since customers get to customized their meals just by letting Chef Michel know specifically what they want. If he has it in the kitchen, you can be sure he’ll make it just for you.
- No MSG – Chef Michel doesn’t believe in preservatives so he guarantees customers that they have an unwritten NO MSG rule at The Blackboard.
- 0% Food Wastage – Chef Michel hates wasting food, so he always finds a way to cook whatever little ingredients may be left. So let’s say you ordered something off the menu today and he whipped up some Salmon for you. But then he had 3 pieces and you only ordered 2, what does he do with the 1 remaining? Well, he chops it and comes up with a new dish for it. Sauce for some pasta perhaps?
- Chef Michel personally picks his meat! – Most restaurants assign people to do the buying for them. That or suppliers deliver it to the restaurants themselves. Not with Chef Michel. Chef Michel prefers going to the market himself to make sure he gets the best quality possible. He does this especially for his seafood.
- Meat is bought fresh everyday! – Yep, the meat is bought fresh daily!
- The Buffet is not overflowing – Most buffets fill up the pans until customers finish it. At The Blackboard, they prefer to only put around 1/3 per dish. This way, customers can always get freshly cooked meals and not dried leftovers from the bottom.
- Chef Michel himself! – as I mentioned earlier, you’d just love coming back to The Blackboard because of Chef Michel himself. It’s not often that you see the chef or the owner personally mingling and making small talk with their customers.
The Blackboard Smorgasbord: Lunch Buffet at The Blackboard
When asked what his favorite dish is, Chef Michel would happily answer, “I love everything.” It’s no wonder they started the Smorgasbord last month. A smorgasbord is basically “a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple hot and cold dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden” as stated in Wikipedia. Simply put, it’s a buffet. The buffet started only recently to give the lunch crowd a boost, and so far, it’s been pretty good.
The Blackboard Smorgasbord by Chef Michel
Chef Michel prepares a variety of dishes for The Blackboard Smorgasbord all of which I enjoyed. I really liked the Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables because despite its sauce was not soggy at all. As Chef Michel explains, this is cooked shortly before it is taken out to ensure its freshness.
Fresh Vegetables at the Blackboard Smorgasbord
The grilled chicken and squid were some of our favorites from the smorgasbord. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t just grilled plainly or with the typical sauce. Instead it had a mixture of cumin, turmeric and other herbs. It was delicious! Grilled Chicken and Squid at the Blackboard Smorgasbord
Eat to your heart’s content with The Blackboard’s continental buffet. You can expect nothing but the best for PhP714 nett. BLACKLIST Card holders pay only P518 nett. (Call to inquire regarding the Blacklist membership card) Then again, if you’d prefer ordering your favorites or have more specific dishes in mind, then go for the Mix and Match buffet where you pay per serving.
WhenInManila Favorites at The Blackboard by Chef Michel
The Smorgasbord is only open on weekdays, from 11:30am to 2:30pm. On other times, you can select your favorites from their blackboard, or simply tell the chef what your craving for. “At The Blackboard, dining is deviant. Spontaneity is served. The Chef may do spur-of-the-moment dishes or whip up a customer’s special request just to satisfy a whim.”
Crispy Pork Belly with Hoisin Glaze
Whenever visiting a new restaurant, I always ask the waiters or the chef about their best sellers. Dishes that when tasted will capture the essence of the restaurant. The Crispy Pork Belly with Hoisin Glaze was one of Chef Michel’s personal recommendations. The meat was exquisite! It was not as fatty as the ones we often have. Despite all that sauce, the skin remained crispy as ever! As Chef Michel would say so himself, “This stuff is the BOMB!”
Crispy Pork Belly with Hoison Glaze at The Blackboard by Chef Michel
Climax by Cheesecake
Another personal recommendation would be their cheesecakes! According to Ms. Issa, Chef Michel is no pastry chef, however, he can do one type of pastry really well, and that would be his cheesecakes. Honestly, I’m not too big a fan of cheesecakes. I often find them boring because I feel it’s all just crust and cream cheese. Flavors are usually only added on top. Well fret not because you won’t get anything like that here at The Blackboard. Chef Michel agrees with us and thinks it would be ridiculous to just add the flavor on top of the cheesecake, so instead, he infuses it with the cream cheese. YUM! With Chef Michel’s cakes, the flavors aren’t just on top, they’re dancing inside!
Climax by Cheesecake at The Blackboard by Chef Michel: See all that flavor all the way on the inside?
In a nutshell, you can taste Chef Michel’s passion for his craft in every bite of every dish. You’d want to come back not simply because of the taste of his dishes but because of how this place, his food and Chef Michel himself makes you feel. At The Blackboard, the customers are all given a special treatment. The quality of the entire experience is something that will stay embedded in your memory. Thank you Chef Michel and Ms. Issa for the wonderful experience of dining at The Blackboard! You haven’t seen the last of us!
The WhenInManila team getting tips on cooking squid from Chef Michel
Don’t forget to also check out other restaurants under the Cravings Group such as Epicurious, B&P, Cravings, Wicked (review out soon) and the like.
The Blackboard by Chef Michel
5F, CCA Podium, Podium Mall, ADB Avenue, Ortigas
T: 02 696 9083
E: eat @ theblackboardbychefmichel.com
The Blackboard by Chef Michel: Where Every Day is a Surprise