THE NEW ROMANTICS
“The Enduring Evolution of The Girl + The Bull”
The kids are alright. Five years after exploding into the collective consciousness of food fanatics, restaurant groupies, and yes, hipsters everywhere with their eponymous restaurant in BF Homes, The Girl + The Bull, Thea de Rivera and Gab Bustos have settled down—not literally… at least not yet—and are honing their craft in their Izakaya/Omakase/Sake/Japanese Whisky joint hidden in plain sight on a small street in Makati.
It’s been a wild ride, to say the least. Their first restaurant was an overnight success, and it certainly drew crowds. Curious folks from all the way up North in Quezon City dared traverse unfamiliar traffic conditions to drive all the way down South to try the (very) young restaurateurs signature Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Faux Twix. I remember this clearly, because G+B was one of the first restaurants we featured in the first year of Let’s Eat. There was quite a fuss about the couple, I recall. Barely out of their teens at the time, flush with youth’s boundless optimism and unwavering passion, they opened a restaurant that somehow resonated with families and yes, hipsters alike. In many ways, that restaurant created a template that is, to this day, followed closely by many new ones popping up in the Poblacion.
The food they served was certainly fun, the interiors and décor captivating, and the servers…. well, they broke the mold. Many were interns from the top culinary schools, and they were all bright eyed and bushy tailed, beaming with enthusiasm as they took orders. It was almost as if a bunch of kids had decided to dreamplay a “restaurant”, and somehow, succeeded at it. So much so that less than a year later, the kids opened a second one, very different in concept and execution from the first: 12/10.
That was in 2014. Flash forward four years, and the couple has indeed settled down-- figuratively. Though they had to make a painful “Sophie’s Choice” to close The Girl + The Bull, it did pay dividends.
It allowed them to concentrate on 12/10, which has become-- in a very low-key manner compared to the supernova th0a3t was G+B—a prime example of how to fully grow a cool concept into a respected restaurant. Frankly, I was shocked at how good the food had become. The technique, the presentation, the flavor profiles, and the obvious talent behind it all, had all matured beautifully. The frivolousness had been replaced by focus, and all the extraneous elements edited down to excellence and elegance.
Thea, who used to sport neon green hair, now maintains a pixie cut in her natural color. Gab, the former wholesome boy-next-door now looks like Anthony Kiedis, so I guess he’s embraced his true
self. Their dynamic hasn’t changed though. The Girl takes care of the front of house, charming everyone in her way, and The Bull is either in the kitchen or behind the bar: conceptualizing, cooking, creating. Their roles and personalities remind me of my favorite culinary couple, Claude and Mary Ann Tayag. And that’s a very promising indication indeed.
12/10 has a unique proposition. All of the dishes are designed for two to share, and all of them inevitably lead to delighted “oooohs” and “ahhhhhs”. The delight of discovery, the sensuality of biting into beautiful food, the whole shared experience amped up by the authentic Japanese libations and a sultry playlist, has turned 12/10 into one of the top choices for a very sexy date night. Friendships turn into flirtations and singles become couples. Two become one, literally and figuratively, at 12/10.
021 Tuna: kyuri, green goddess, ash 2 12/10 Dining Room
033 Reception Desk
4 Spicy Scallop: mentaiko, radish, nori, cosmos flower petals 04
5 Duck: sansho, strawberry, corn risotto6 Fish Head: salmon, black spice, salsa verde7 Cold Sake8 Harambe Cocktail 05