AG New World Manila Bay
Dramatic Dinners at The Fireplace
Don’t let the distance, or the travel time to the City of Manila, discourage you. Instead, turn an imagined negative into a definite positive: drive down, and stay for the weekend. Discover three of the best hotel restaurants in the country, and as an added bonus? Enjoy the unparalleled magnificence of the Manila Bay sunset. It’s absolutely the best free show ever. A hypnotic dance of dappled sunlight reflecting on the blue waters during the day, and in the afternoons, and towards 02 dusk? Magical.
Here’s my ideal itinerary for your staycation in this beauty by the bay. Arrive in time for lunch at the Market Café. The buffet restaurant has multiple cooking stations: Chinese and Carvings are always popular, but here’s a pro tip. Go to the Seafood station, and ask the chefs there to have the fresh prawns cooked in salt and pepper; it’s not listed on the board listing the cooking options, but I once overheard a guest conspiratorially ask for it, and of course, I just had to try it myself. It’s been my favorite off-menu item ever since. After lunch, take a long siesta, a stimulating shower or a dip in the pool after, but by five o’clock, make sure you have a vantage point for the sunset spectacular. If you book a room with access to the Residence Club living room on the 10th floor, reserve a seat in front of the picture windows, order a cocktail or a glass of sparkling wine, some sushi to nosh on, and … well, reflect on how happy, and lucky, you are at that moment.
But save space for dinner. The pièce de résistance of a New World staycation is a luxe meal at The Fireplace. It’s my favorite five-star hotel steak restaurant.
I’m biased. But with good reason. The Fireplace holds a sentimental value for me, as it was the one I wrote about in my very first published food feature a decade ago. I fell in love with the restaurant then. It’s luxurious interiors and romantic lighting, burnishing everything with a golden hue. The decanters and crystal glasses, lined up for the pouring of the bottles from one of the most well-curated wine lists in the country. And those steaks. Those masterpieces of meat that drive the carnivorous crazy with desire. Under the keen eyes of Executive Chef James Williams, and the uncompromising professional precision of Sous Chef Ilan Bacher, the restaurant is selecting, sourcing, storing, slicing, and serving up some of the best steaks in the Philippines, bar
none. I’m partial to the 400-day grain-fed Wagyu Ribeye from the Stockyard Farm in Australia. It has that strong, muscular taste profile, and that beefy bite. Medium rare, of course. It’s a classic that needs no further accouterments. I love it still sizzling hot from the wood-fired oven, grill marks and a slight char. A most manly steak that I imagine, Don Draper and his Mad Men would have enjoyed during a “three gin martini” lunch. Connoisseurs of the intensely flavored yet delicately melt-inyour-mouth, high grade Japanese cattle will bow down to the pleasures an A4 from the Saga Prefecture. And for families with
“THE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE OF A NEW WORLD MANILA BAY STAYCATION IS A LUXE MEAL AT THE FIREPLACE.”
children ravenous from an afternoon in the pool, I’d recommend the Tomahawk. That humongous cut, weighing in at a kilo or more, it’s an impressive sight, really. An epic production.
Obviously, I still love this restaurant as much as I did during my first visit all those years ago. Perhaps, even more. The restaurant has aged elegantly, and it has constantly renewed itself. All its proteins and produce are sourced from farms that practice responsible farming and harvesting. The Fireplace has always been impressive, but with this dedication to Sustainability, it is even more so.
1 400-Day Grain-Fed Wagyu Ribeye from Australia2 The Wood-Fired Beech Oven 3 The Open Kitchen 03
02 4 Grilled Scallops5 The Fireplace Dining Area6 Grade A4 Saga Wagyu from Japan7 The Manila Bay Sunset View8 Jack’s Creek Tenderloin Tartare