Our Favorite Restaurant of 2017
It should be about good food, period. First and foremost, last and certainly not the least. That’s what defines a restaurant, that’s what makes it successful. You can imagine what my email inbox is like, more so my social media feeds. All are inundated with the so-called latest and greatest about all everything to do with food. As a writer, and as pioneering blogger, that’s to be expected. A decade on into my shared obsession with culinary culture, I’ve become somewhat blasé, sometimes outright cynical about all the press and praise floating around out there.
Maybe that’s why it took me so long to finally venture into Made Nice. Admittedly, the initial publicity the restaurant received became, if I’m being completely honest, quite cloying. It was all “Scandinavian this” and “New York that”, and that was somewhat annoying. I really wanted to go early on, but I also wanted to avoid the herds of “foodies” oooh-ing and ahhhing, missing the forest for the trees. I also believe that the ultra-hip and insidersounding reviews could have turned off some people, who, like me, simply go for the food, not necessarily for all the accouterments of ambiance.
I waited for more than a few months to let the young group of chefs settle in, and I was greatly rewarded for it. Made Nice, I was pleased to discover, and I’m more than pleased to announce, can now rightfully claim a spot next to Hey Handsome and Toyo Eatery as among the best new dining destinations to open in the past couple of years. This very modern restaurant, located in one of the oldest buildings in the Makati CBD, now has a real rhythm about it, a flow of food and service unencumbered by the pressures of publicity. It now has a regular clientele, patrons who keep on coming back, for the simple pleasures of enjoying a meal in a cool and cozy upscale establishment.
The excellence of the dishes are unquestionable, and the presentation, the plating, as gorgeous as any I’ve seen in Netflix’s highly-rated “Chef ’s Table”. A case can be made for Made Nice to be featured in that series; I wouldn’t miss it. The stories are compelling. There’s a sweet love story between two of the chefs, Jack and Gabbi; a Clooney-Pitt-Damon-esque bromance among Aaron, Wren, and Toby. And that young man making the pasta?
That’s Raul. His mom is Mamou herself, and his aunt? Asia’s Best Female Chef. So yes, expectations are sky high for this Breakfast Club cast of young culinarians.
The good news is, they’re living up to the hype and maturing into their individual roles. It can be difficult, true. But surely, and not-so-slowly, the Made Nice partners are growing up. There are tremendous challenges – there seems to be a new restaurant du jour opening up every week, competing for the core of diners who regularly eat out, not to mention the attendant irritants of parking along Esteban St. -- but with a little determination, and a lot of passion, those can be solved and surpassed.
Because here’s the deal with Made Nice: it’s a pretty special restaurant, that’s worth going back to, again and again. Why? The simplest of recipes for success: they serve really good food. And quite nicely too.
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03 Octopus: squid ink, chili, tonnato sauce Bolognese: fresh tagliolini, USDA beef, Gruyère and Emmenthal 3 Lamb: mozarella sphere, kamote puree, frog egg eggplant 4 Made Nice Entrance 5 Milk Chocolate dense chocolate cake, malt ice cream, dulce...