When in Manila, satisfy your big cravings at the Village Tavern.
The Village Tavern shows that there is more to American food than just burgers and fries. Although it serves its share of sandwiches, it also offers a myriad of flavors to satisfy even those with discerning palates. Diners can choose from an array of soups, salads, pasta plates and specialty dishes.
Aside from the promise of good food, what made me look forward to dining at the Village Tavern is its ambience. It has somehow achieved a cool and classy look while maintaining a homey atmosphere. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the open kitchen at the end of the restaurant. There was a small bar on one side and the other side was a wall that featured a large hand-painted mural by a local artist. The restaurant’s ceiling was decorated with rustic chandeliers, which looked Western-inspired. That night, there were some couples seated on the booths and big groups on the larger tables. Its casual setting gave the diners a more comfortable eating experience.
Good for sharing
Upon seating at one of the booths, Village Tavern’s Restaurant Manager, RA Dumlao, came over to greet us and offer us drinks. The restaurant has a wide selection of cocktails, bottled beers and premium wines, but I went for the classic Chocolate Milkshake while my dinner companion ordered Hoegaarden, which is Belgian wheat beer.
For starters, we sampled the Thai Chicken Salad, a big plate of seasonal greens with sliced chicken, cucumber, edamame, cabbage, which is topped with crisp wontons and black sesame seeds, and then drizzled with some lime-cilantro dressing and Thai peanut sauce. The prominent flavor of the peanut sauce added a sweet touch, the cilantro dressing was tangy, and there was a subtle spicy kick to it. I liked the taste of this particular salad and its serving size which was really meant for sharing.
We also had a chance to try the whole-wheat flatbreads—it’s the restaurant’s version of a pizza, but with a healthier twist. Its thin crust is made from all-natural and 100 percent whole wheat flour. The dough is made from scratch and is then topped fresh ingredients and baked in a 600-degree coal-fired oven.
The Tavern Flatbread variant was a delight to eat. It had a delicious combination of toppings—pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, hamburger, onions and mozzarella cheese. It was served with some sriracha hot chili sauce, which gave each bite a kick. I liked how the crust was crunchy and chewy at the same time. Pizza lovers would appreciate both its taste and health benefits.
A good complement to the flatbread was the Grilled Chicken Penne, a pasta dish that is cooked with crispy pancetta, grilled chicken, caramelized onions and coated with basil cream sauce. The fresh basil flavor and the salty pancetta perfectly counteracted the richness of the cream sauce.
Throughout the meal, the restaurant manager visited various tables to check on the diners. When passed by our table, he shared that the restaurant was established in the States and that the Manila branch was the first one to open outside the U.S. The menu selection was basically the same, although it was altered a bit to suit the Filipino palate.
Aside from the flatbread and pasta, we tasted another house specialty—Crispy Chicken Tacos. The two soft tacos were stuffed with breaded chicken tenders with mango slaw and chipotle sauce. The serving came with some rice pilaf and black beans cooked in chocolate sauce. We discovered that the best way to eat this was to add the rice and beans inside the tacos and try to get a little of everything in one bite. I liked that this was a very interactive dish, albeit a bit messy but totally worth it.
After my last bite of the taco, I felt full already but I just had to eat something sweet at the end of a meal since I’m a dessert person. The pick for that night was St. Barths Chocolate Torte, a hefty slice of chocolate French cake that is topped with chocolate sauce and paired with a scoop of banana ice cream, which was custom-made for the restaurant. The cake was very rich and moist and could stand alone by itself, but coupled with the ice cream—it was to die for! It was the first time I tried a banana-flavored ice cream and it was simply divine. I won’t ever forget my first. And with that came my happy ending at Village Tavern.
When in Manila, and hunger strikes again, visit the Village Tavern at the Fort. The next time I go there, maybe I’ll order dessert first before sampling the other specialty dishes on the menu.
2nd Level, B3, Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Village Tavern on Facebook: www.facebook.com/VillageTavernPhilippines
The Bistro Group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBistroGroup