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Celebrating the simple at Volcanic Grill

Mikee dela Cruz discovers Barangay Palanan’s Volcanic Grill, which is no fine-dining venue, but is no typical tambayan (place where you just hang out) either. But as a place that is somewhere in between those, and with somewhat good and affordable food to boot, this one is worth a visit.

Volcanic Grill

Volcanic Grill2Once upon a time, Barangay Palanan in Makati City had a better-than-good Thai resto, which was – interestingly – located inside a drinking hole (i.e. in one of the numerous cheap Central bars, this one located along Emilia Street, right beside Cash & Carry mall). But while Central continued thriving (particularly frequented by those working in BPOs in nearby areas), the Thai resto folded.

And so these parts of Metro Manila lost its – arguably – only venue worth visiting.

Those familiar with Barangay Palanan may argue that there are places along Bautista Street – and yes, they would be right. But to be completely honest, most of these venues are GRO-flocked. Meanwhile, the restos in Cash & Carry follow mall hours, so they’re not readily available.

And so those keen to dine out have to go out of Barangay Palanan just to do so. Not too far, there’s San Antonio Village’s The Collective; as well as the restos near De La Salle University/College of St. Benilde/St. Scholastica College at Taft Avenue. And for those with transpo, the offerings of Greenbelt (Makati City) and Adriatico (City of Manila) are not THAT far, too.

And so – back in Barangay Palanan – it was a pleasant surprise to “discover” Volcanic Grill, a small-ish restobar located in the quiet Florida Street, not too far from Buendia/Gil Puyat Avenue corner Dian Street.

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SIMPLE VENUE

It can be said that there is nothing special about this place – not unlike the popular Central. As an al fresco venue, nothing “classy” is here; instead, there are just 10 wooden tables, with each able to seat from four customers. But while Central’s branches do not at all attempt to beautify (many have a “car park converted to bar” aura), at least this place attempts to be… better. For flooring, there are crashed rocks/pebbles, an attempt to make the place “volcanic”; atop are indigenous lamps (those twigs intertwined so they are shaped as fruits/balls/whatever); and here-and-there are some indigenous decos (e.g. clay Buddha, wooden scultures).

To complement the “back to basic” appeal, on use are wooden plates, and garapon (jars) as glasses (at least for some drinks), among others.

While the place has a… home-y appeal, there are disadvantages. Particularly: the place can get (very) warm; and when it rains, those seated closer to the main entrance could get splattered with the drizzle. Plus there are the mozzies…

FOODS GALORE

The area’s limitations, though, do not mean the place isn’t worth visiting.

This is particularly because of the place’s epicurean offerings.

Volcanic Grill3Faves include the “Asian Fusion” specialties – e.g. Khao Pad (rice topped with chicken or shrimp, shrimp paste, sesame seed, Thai spices, egg, and green mango; from P89); Yellow Curry (P89 for chicken; P99 for beef); Nasi Lemak (rice topped with chicken sambal, cucumber, anchovies, and egg; P99); and Beef Bulgogi (rice topped with beef in sweet soy sauce, cayenne, paprika, sesame seed, and bell pepper; P99).

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No, they aren’t complete replicas of what you’d eat if in different contexts – for instance, Nasi Lemak isn’t the same as the way Indonesians prepare it. But the versions – considering the prices – are more than satisfying.

If not in the mood to experiment, stay with Filipino favorites – e.g. Pork Barbecue (P49 for two pieces, served with rice); Boneless Bangus (P109); Liempo Laing (P99); Pork Sinigang (P169); Bicol Express (P79); and Pork Binagoongan (P69). As side dishes, I specially recommend the Pinoy veggie offerings – Gising Gising (kangkong with coco milk and ground pork; P49), and Garlic Kangkong (P49).

Else, stick with the similarly “safe” American Salisbury Steak (P89); and mini-pizzas (P99).

As pantulak (“chaser”, or drinks), the usual shakes (from P59) may be enticing; but worth a try is the Volcanic Iced Tea (from P39 for a garapon or jar).

Of course, as a part-bar, there are also the pulutan (food to accompany alcoholic drinks), here called the “beermates” – e.g. Sizzling Mushroom (P99); Calamares (P129); Sizzling Pork Sisig (P139); and Tokwa’t Baboy (P89), among others.

Alas, this is not all-perfect. And food-wise, the dessert is where this place disappoints, mainly because there are only two options available: V-Lovers’ Delight (basically two scoops of ice cream topped with wafer sticks and fruits; P79); and Banana Split (three scoops of ice cream topped with banana slices and sweet sprinkles; P89).

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OVERALL APPEAL

No, this is no fine-dining venue – heck, it isn’t even close to almost-fine-dining.

But no, this is not typical tambayan (place where you just hang out) either – that is, this is not at all as simplistic as Central.

Volcanic Grill is somewhere in between.

With somewhat good (and, important for many, affordable) food to boot.

As such, this place is worth a visit.

No, you may not specifically visit it if you’re not in Barangay Palanan in Makati; but if/when you’re in the area, dropping by doesn’t sound all that bad either…

Open from Monday to Saturday (10:00AM to 11:00PM), Volcanic Grill is located at 3445-B Florida corner Emilia Street, Barangay Palanan, Makati City. For more information (or to have something delivered), contact (+632) 2390951 or (+63) 9164730161.

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