RESTAU­RANT WATCH

G/F One Rock­well Bldg., Rock­well Drive, Makati Tel. (0917) 513-8945

F&B World - - Contents - —Chun Va­len­cia

• Grace Park

Premio

In­ever re­al­ized that a restau­rant visit and a meal would turn out to be an op­por­tu­nity to re­new hope and a source of valu­able life lessons. Af­ter all, this is a Mar­garita Fores restau­rant. I ex­pected many good things, and truly was not dis­ap­pointed.

By now, many people have al­ready learned that Grace Park was named af­ter Mar­garita Fores’ pa­ter­nal grand­mother’s home in Caloocan City. It was the place where Chef Gaita’s fond­est fam­ily mem­o­ries – in­clud­ing eat­ing and lots of dancing -- be­came the in­spi­ra­tion for her restau­rant. She wants her guests at Grace Park to feel noth­ing less of this fa­mil­ial con­nec­tion. The mo­ment I stepped in­side, I felt the com­fort­ing warmth of home, like a fam­ily guest ready for a Sun­day cel­e­bra­tion.

MENU

The fuss-free, one-page menu printed on craft paper and clipped on a used cor­ru­gated card­board is a state­ment in it­self. Fewer ma­te­ri­als, less waste, more love for our planet. Plus, it al­lows for a dy­namic menu as it changes ev­ery two weeks, depend­ing on what’s avail­able in the farms and other sources. Grace Park takes pride in sourc­ing fresh and or­ganic in­gre­di­ents, pro­duced sus­tain­ably by re­gional farm­ers.

The Gra­nola Wa­ter­cress Salad was the wel­com­ing pre­view of things to come – fresh, healthy and clean. The sweet­ness of the gra­nola bal­anced off the slight bit­ter­ness of the wa­ter­cress, with the gar­lic yo­gurt dress­ing adding a smooth, vel­vety mouth feel. It pairs well with the fish of the day served in the same pan where it was cooked. Don’t for­get to ask the server for their spe­cials of the day.

The Fet­tuc­cine with Truf­fle Cream and Or­ganic Egg is a must­try. The beauty of this dish lies in the merg­ing of sim­plic­ity and lux­ury, with sim­ple hand­made noo­dles made from or­ganic in­gre­di­ents and bathed in a light truf­fle cream.

For the meat lovers, the Mus­co­v­ado Beef Belly is such a treat. Two words: ten­der­ness and fla­vor. The sweet­ness of mus­co­v­ado su­gar is en­tic­ing with­out go­ing over­board. Plus, the melt-in-your­mouth soft­ness is bor­der­ing on sexy. If you’re fond of shar­ing, this dish is per­fect. To fin­ish of our meal, the Eton Mess was an un­ex­pected de­light. Don’t let the “mess” fool you—the mish­mash of fla­vors of the meringue, rasp­ber­ries, black­ber­ries and cream de­lighted the an­tidessert in me.

IN­TE­RI­ORS

This loft-type restau­rant was de­signed by Ar­chi­tect Jorge Yulo, who also de­signed Chef Gaita’s other restaurants, Lusso and Cibo. The in­te­ri­ors, gen­er­ally a com­bi­na­tion of in­dus­trial and rus­tic el­e­ments, cre­ate a feel­ing of nos­tal­gia. Chef Gaita can­didly rem­i­nisces how each piece in the restau­rant car­ries with it an in­ter­est­ing story, such as the ta­bles that were once old pizza par­lor ta­bles from their ware­house. Or some sal­vaged items from an old su­gar mill in Ba­colod.

You can’t miss the fa­mous pic­ture-wor­thy stair­case! It show­cases an as­sort­ment of re­cy­cled wood planks and steel, which amus­ingly cre­ates dif­fer­ent sounds as you walk up in your heels. The walls are un­fin­ished ce­ment, the pipes are left ex­posed, the ta­bles and chairs are all uniquely dif­fer­ent, and even the table­ware are dis­tinc­tively mis­matched.

The odd but in­ter­est­ing use of re­cy­cled stuff gives the space so much charm and ap­peal. The beau­ti­fully raw tun­nel-like space in the sec­ond floor is scream­ing “photo shoot”.

All around the restau­rant you can’t help but see im­ages of cats, rep­re­sent­ing some­thing very close to Chef Gaita’s heart – her three cats. The next time you catch her in Grace Park, you might even find out their in­ter­est­ing names.

SER­VICE

Grace Park has some­thing for ev­ery­one in the fam­ily, whether you want to cel­e­brate grandma’s 75’th birth­day, treat the en­tire clan with your first pay­check, or re­unite with your school pals while be­ing a lo­ca­vore, sup­port­ing lo­cal farm­ers.

There are four ta­bles at the ground level, and big­ger ta­bles in the sec­ond floor to ac­com­mo­date fam­ily meals, large groups, or pri­vate reser­va­tions. Out­side seat­ing is avail­able should you wish to dine al fresco.

THE VER­DICT

As a farm-to-ta­ble con­cept, Grace Park ad­vo­cates a life­style of go­ing back to the ba­sics, and nur­tur­ing both the body and spirit. Chef Gaita pas­sion­ately shares how sim­ple dishes be­come a ve­hi­cle of some­thing spir­i­tual, that en­ergy is trans­ferred to the food by who­ever pre­pares them. It’s all about putting love into the food.

Ar­chi­tect Jorge Yulo com­bined rus­tic and in­dus­trial el­e­ments for Grace Park,

to cre­ate a nos­tal­gic feel.

Fresh the Ar­tusi Way: Fet­tucine Truf­fle

Eton Mess

Mus­co­v­ado Beef Belly

Chef Mar­garita Fores cre­ated Grace Park with her mem­o­ries of the past along­side a pas­sion for

ar­ti­sanal, or­ganic and sus­tain­able in­gre­di­ents.

Roast Fish of the Day (Pam­pano)

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