THE NEW ROMANTICS

“The En­dur­ing Evo­lu­tion of The Girl + The Bull”

Let’s Eat - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS BY SPANKY HIZON ENRQUEZ

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.

Photo by GABBY CANTERO

PHO­TOS BY GABBY CANTERO

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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

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03 06

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