DRAWN TO WARMTH

It’s com­fort with a kick by Fire­side

Northern Living - - EATS - TEXT PRIS­TINE L. DE LEON PHOTOGRAPHY PA­TRICK SE­GOVIA

The hours af­ter work have a ten­dency to in­fect us with a lazy mood—one that tol­er­ates re­pose more than ac­tiv­ity and fa­vors fa­mil­iar­ity over pomp. Even though un­con­ven­tional con­cepts hold their own al­lure to the public, un­pre­ten­tious­ness some­times can also be a restau­rant’s chief draw.

The men be­hind Ket­tle paid close at­ten­tion to th­ese com­mon sen­ti­ments when they opened their lat­est ven­ture: Fire­side. Ciy folks are once again granted an­other no-frills dining space where old, familiar fa­vorites come out as the main at­trac­tion.

Bank­ing on the worn-out ur­ban­ites’ yearn­ing to un­wind, Fire­side by Ket­tle opened a space of re­laxed in­te­ri­ors and muted de­sign in SM Mega­mall. “I’m not so into fancy [things],” af­firms Chef Chiloy San­tos. “For me, our phi­los­o­phy [is] just to keep it sim­ple; not too many twists.” It’s easy to drop your guard here, with the decors of the resto kept at a min­i­mum. Folks are en­ticed to re­lax and re-ex­pe­ri­ence an old child­hood habit of gob­bling down heaps and heaps of com­fort food.

Truf­fled potato chips, fried chicken fin­gers, ba­con-and-beef meat­loaf, corn­bread dough­nuts, and slabs of steak— while the restau­rant sug­gests easy, ca­sual dining, its whole menu is si­mul­ta­ne­ously an ex­cit­ing sum­mon to in­dulge, to which both the picky and the vo­ra­cious eater would be ea­ger to oblige. Each grub is rem­i­nis­cent of how you used to en­joy eat­ing back in the day: not nec­es­sar­ily to be stuffed or to be im­pressed by the cooking, but sim­ply to get your hands on ev­ery­thing de­lec­ta­ble within reach and sight.

If, at Ket­tle, the guests are greeted with West­ern com­fort food, here at Fire­side, other in­flu­ences abound. “We wanted a dif­fer­ent Ket­tle, with dif­fer­ent fla­vors, more Asian-in­spired dishes, and more healthy op­tions [as well],” ex­plains San­tos. The hal­ibut, for in­stance, is a lush mix of quinoa veg­etable salad topped with ba­con vinai­grette. “It’s healthy with a hint of sin­ful­ness,” the chef of­fers with a sly smirk.

Notwith­stand­ing the dif­fer­ent con­cepts, there’s a steady touch of play­ful­ness with how Fire­side al­lows its guests to en­joy the meals. Their in­fa­mous wings are, as San­tos de­scribes, “nei­ther here nor there.” Their sweet, spicy, and salty com­bi­na­tion seem­ingly plays chase with the tongue that both the chef and the diner can hardly tie them down to a sin­gle taste. One other cause for amuse­ment is their dough­nut that comes with dif­fer­ent fla­vors you can tin­ker with. Squeeze out rasp­berry, choco­late, and caramel from the tubes and draw swirls on the dough­nuts as you would when you were younger.

“Com­fort food is ba­si­cally [some­thing which] re­minds you of your child­hood or your trav­els,” muses San­tos. True enough, a visit to Fire­side can feel a lot like com­ing home; the fur­ni­ture is dif­fer­ent and the food has been slightly changed yet that sharp sense of fa­mil­iar­ity hangs about, re­mind­ing you of that good ol’ com­fort you used to get when you cozy up by the fire­side.

Sim­ple and straight-up good­ness await at Fire­sisde. Un­pre­ten­tious com­fort food served as it should be with a touch of your child­hood.

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