Anyone who works within or regularly visits Bonifacio Global City would likely agree that the pocket metropolis in Taguig is the new center of commerce and entertainment in Metro Manila. While BGC is much less crowded and better planned than any other city in the country, one can still get a feeling of being in the midst of organized chaos when making your way around its busier parts. Luckily, there are still parts of BGC where buildings are further apart, where the surrounding greenery and open spaces provide some much-needed breathing room.
We often get invitations to try new restaurants in the BGC area and, to be honest, the first thing that goes through my mind is parking. I’ve probably had too many experiences of long lines, long walks or going around in circles trying to find somewhere to park in BGC. The parking buildings and mall parking areas just never seem to be enough. You see, when one reaches a certain age, convenience starts to outweigh going to the “in” places. Seeing and being seen loses its appeal to ease of getting there and being comfortable. Fortunately, our most recent invitation for lunch ticked all the right boxes even before we got there—easy to get to, adequate parking and, most important, away from maddening crowds.
The Red Piano is a number of things—a piano bar, a restaurant, a lounge to sit back and relax and a place where you can actually converse with your companions. The brainchild of Mr. Carlo Llave and a few of his friends who wanted a place to gather and enjoy each other’s company, while listening to good live music, with a drink in hand and some sumptuous food to share. Without any options that satisfied all they wished for, they decided to put up their own.
Of course, more than the music and the ambiance, we came to The Red Piano for the food. Llave, (Carlo to me since we’ve enjoyed a few rounds of friendly but competitive golf together) isn’t really a chef. He’s more of a gourmand, someone who travels a lot and enjoys good food from all over. The menu at The Red Piano is an eclectic mix, a “greatest hits” album if you will, of the dishes he has come to love from his travels. There isn’t one dominant cuisine on their menu, but what stands out is the attention to detail and the lengths they go to in order to serve the most authentic dishes. How many restaurants in the Metro would import guanciale for their carbonara? Actually, how many restaurants know how to and would serve the real Carbonara? Ever gone to a place that stews its beef in actual Burgundy wine, more specifically Beaujolais, and not the cheap reds in boxes? How many Spanish restaurants would use Bomba rice for their paellas? This adherence to authenticity and tradition is the trademark of The Red Piano’s menu and is more than enough reason for guests to keep coming back.
As I’ve mentioned above, their menu is a collection of favorites from Llave’s travels, frequent requests at potluck parties and dinners at home. And since the menu is already a well-curated one, guests can come and order anything from their line up and expect the dish to be top-notch. On our visit, we got a sampling of The Red Piano’s greatest hits. As each dish was served, live music from their resident pianist served as a soundtrack for our feast.
As difficult as it was to pick favorites—everything was good and worthy of a return visit. See below for a peak of dishes that are absolute musts.
The Red Piano is what I’d call a “Gastro Lounge,” a place serving great food with drinks and live music. If you’re looking for a good meal, properly cooked using authentic ingredients, in a relaxed atmosphere away from all the corporate jungle noise, there is literally no place like The Red Piano. The Red Piano is located at The Plaza at Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway, Taguig. Phone 09060590411 for inquiries and reservations.
San Fran Clam Chowder
“Even better than the real thing” might be a bold claim, but The Red Piano backs their claim with the best ingredients. From the custom-made sourdough bread to the fresh clams from Aklan and Bicol, the soup is creamy, briny and tastes of fresh clam stock, not the usual canned stuff.
Spaghetti alle Carbonara
This is the real deal. No bacon, cream or mushrooms in this authentic rendition of a classic Italian pasta dish. The Red Piano does their carbonara properly, with guanciale from Italy, egg and a combination of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano.
This classic French beef stew is prepared à la Julia Child. Proper Burgundy, along with meticulously prepared beef stock, is used to stew the prime cuts of beef shoulder. Cooked low and slow, the meltingly tender beef is best paired with risotto or some angel hair pasta.
Carne y Mariscos Paella
The star of any paella dish is the rice, and The Red Piano does not hold back punches. Using Spanish Bomba rice in their paellas, theirs is as authentic as it gets. The unique capacity of Bomba rice to soak up more liquid (stock in this case) than any other rice variety results in grains that are packed with flavor and don’t turn mushy. The socarrat (toasted rice or tutong) at the bottom of the paella is, of course, the best part.