71 Gramercy: Taking the High Road

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With its plush interiors, and world-class cuisine, the fact that it crowns Makati’s tallest residential structure is not the only reason why 71 Gramercy stands out.

As rush hour begins, a sea of red emerges, a seemingly never-ending line of brake lights inching their way across the Pasig River.

It’s a typical evening in Makati City, the Philippines’ financial capital and home to all things cutting-edge in the nation. The traffic comes with the territory, a price to pay for working, or living, in an area that prides itself on being the platform for individuals to “Make It Happen.”

But from where I am, the normal bustle on the streets serves more as a fascinating accent to a sprawling metropolis. It’s a breathtaking view reserved only to those staying at the tallest residential building in the land, Gramercy Residences, or to those like myself, visiting the New York-themed lounge and restaurant occupying the top floor, 71 Gramercy.

“You can literally see every part of Manila from here,” says Executive Chef and Co-owner Carlo Miguel with a smile, sitting comfortably on one of the restaurant’s many leather couches reminiscent of a bygone era. “As they say, we’re taking things to another level.” Miguel forms a key ingredient in a group of individuals that came together to bring the establishment to life. Each with their specialized fields, the collective, in the short span of six months, has firmly cemented the nightspot into one of the most sought-after locations in Metro Manila. And given nearby Bonifacio Global City’s steep ascent to the forefront of Filipinos’ minds when searching for the latest flavors and entertainment, 71 Gramercy’s emergence reignites Makati City’s status as the premier city for both business and pleasure.

While the spectacular view, the freshest tunes, the hippest personalities, and the classy Big Apple ambiance brought the hype behind the city’s latest treasure, the kitchen has been quietly building a solid base of individuals more interested in the entertainment of a quiet, hearty meal.

“I’m trying to revolutionize the dining side of things here. I want to give customers world-class food without pricing them out. The sulit factor is extremely important to me. I want you leaving feeling as if you definitely got your money’s worth,” says Miguel, who reveals that the restaurant side of 71 Gramercy has been just as successful as the lounge it turns into at the stroke of 10 PM. With New York’s nature as a melting pot of different cultures, the dining offerings mimic its variety, giving Carlo a unique opportunity to operate without the constraints of a particular cuisine.

We begin dinner with an Olive Oil

Poached Salmon to whet the appetite. A touch of horseradish and dill accompanies the small slice of fresh fish, creating a sense of a chase to begin the meal. The combination, although seemingly simple, is such that I have to finish the entire serving to get a sense of which ingredient is bringing what to the table. Shortly, a Gruyère Soufflé is placed down, its warm center and rich cheesy flavor attacking the senses immediately, but without the expected overwhelming aftereffect. Each bite exudes the same lush taste without encroaching on the previous mouthful. The balance of flavors is pinpoint. Perhaps it is foolish of me to expect anything less from a man who everyday is in bed at 9 PM, wakes at 5:30 every morning, and juggles a dozen different successful establishments, all while training for a triathlon.

After a fine set of classic Rockefeller Oysters, and the most exquisite Caesar Salad I’ve yet come across, a little more of Chef Carlo’s personality shines through as the entrées arrive.

“I’m not the type to tell you how to eat your food. Experiment, have fun finding what’s best for you. A dining experience should have a sense of entertainment to it. Just stay home if all you’re interested in is to fill your stomach,” he says, enjoying my expression as I search for the perfect mix of cauliflower puree and red wine jus for my Sea Bass Fillet. He is equally amused watching my face light up as I press down on the top bun of the Gramercy Burger, breaking the yolk, which begins to spill over 200 grams of Angus beef, bacon and aged cheddar. And as the novelty of the dish’s appearance wears off, it is quickly replaced with the perfect combination of every selected ingredient.

The duck breast soon arrives, followed closely by an extremely juicy, greater Omaha US Angus Rib Eye, served with peppercorn sauce. The steak proves to be a perfect pair to the Gramercy Potatoes, a mashed potato dish filled with the flavors usually associated with a baked potato. Rounding out the extravagant meal is the infamous #Legit Chocolate Cake, and the highly regarded Panna Cotta – a sweet touch to an exquisite culinary trip. Not only am I filled to the gills, I feel thoroughly entertained as well.

Makati City feels more appealing to me than ever before, as I gaze at the Metro Manila skyline, hidden away at its highest peak. While the rest of Metro Manila continues to grow and develop new concepts to satiate the urban Filipino’s ever changing whims, the nation’s financial capital holds an ace up its sleeve. More than just any other high-profile lounge and restaurant, 71 Gramercy represents a symbol of Makati’s world-class prominence, unrivaled by any neighboring town

Too Legit to Quit #Legit Chocolate Cake

Of all the world-class offerings available at 71 Gramercy, it is dessert that leaves the strongest impression. With five textures and three different chocolates, the #Legit Chocolate Cake couldn’t have been more adequately named. The bottom is formed by a dark hazelnut meringue, which supports a filling of white and dark chocolate mousse layered with flourless chocolate cake. At the top is a hard chocolate crust that breaks to accommodate the milk chocolate ganache poured onto the center of the creation right before it is served. The warm addition breaks the surface and forms the center of the cake. The novelty of the presentation and the idea of so many layers to the dish bring an excitement and anticipation all on its own. But while the combination of so many different elements seems to overcomplicate a dessert favorite, the first slice involving all the flavors simplifies the concoction immediately – exquisitely delicious, the type that puts one straight into a childlike state. It’s wonderfully over-the-top, but in true 71 Gramercy style, it’s created with precision, with each element adding to the flavor rather than saturating the overall taste. Perhaps anticipating the difficulty in finding the right word to describe the explosion of chocolate heaven, they’ve made it easy. It’s simply #Legit.

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