Above: Croquettas Cochinillo at The Establishment.
A quintet of enticing dining rooms and bars round out the offerings at Manila’s newest entertainment venue
By Cathy Paras-Lara
Over the month since its debut, The Establishment (Unit A, Fort Entertainment Complex, Cnr. 26th St. and 5th Ave., Taguig City; 63-2/844-6364) has seen the who’s who of Manila descend for bubbly and nibbles in its plush surrounds. TV personalities rub shoulders with society scions, and international musicians are called upon to entertain the crowds. If ever there was a place to see and be seen in the Philippine capital, this is it.
Surprisingly, Manila’s hottest new address is not in Makati, the green belt that marks the central business district, but rather in The Fort area of Taguig City, on the western shore of Laguna de Bay. A stark white block fronted by coconut palms, The Establishment is the brainchild of local architect and interior designer Anton Mendoza, renowned for his ostentatious decorative flourishes and penchant for the finer things in life. Inside, elaborate chandeliers drip from the ceiling and dark velvet curtains drape the walls. Backlit staircases give the restaurants and bars—there are five in all—an eerie glow.
Begin the evening at the Tulipan tapas room, where syrupy cocktails are mixed with Filipino flair. Fire up your appetite with the Climate Changed—white rum, fresh lime, and apple juice blended with spiced peppers, cucumber, and turmeric juice. Then move on to The Hall, where classic Spanish fare is overseen by chef Margarita “Gaita” Flores, the force behind some of Manila’s finest restaurants. Standout dishes include plump croquettes stuffed with roasted pork and topped with cracklings, and the paella tulipan—saffron rice stewed with seafood, chicken, and pork. At the end of your meal, take the time to tour the rest of the complex (the Crystal Room, a French bistro; Brocade, serving modern Asian cuisine; and the chef’s table, known as the Veuve Cliquot Room), if only to ogle more of Mendoza’s lavish designs.
Originally appeared in the June/July 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Party of Five”)