Following a successful first strike on The Fort, a wine lounge proves to be a fitting sequel to this epic three-part gastronomic trilogy.
"This isn’t the door you’re looking for. Move along."
If the monolithic front wall of the Scarlet Wine Lounge was an old evasive Jedi Master, that’s what it would’ve said. Instead, the brightly lit wall of the lounge seemed to do the opposite. That and the huge sign that says “Scarlet Wine Lounge” did everything but discourage the curious passer-by to take a peek inside the seemingly windowless building. So, yeah, let’s go in.
The deep red interior of the place seemed to provide welcomed warmth from the rain outside obviously chosen to match the name of the establishment. I had this embarrassing goth phase in high school and that residual poseur in me found the décor to be very cool. This looked either like a vampire hangout (back when vampires were cool) or the set of an early My Chemical Romance video. In any case, it’s pretty awesome. I’m sorry that my adjectives are so juvenile. Okay, let’s move on.
Welcome drinks: Strawberry Passion and Midnight Martini
We were greeted by Ruben Ungson, Scarlet’s operations manager who brought us these welcome drinks. The drink on the left is called Strawberry Passion which is a tequila based cocktail mixed with orange liqueur and strawberry syrup. The Midnight Martini is sort of a beach drink—Malibu Rum and vanilla based vodka mixed with pineapple juice. These drinks aren’t on the menu yet, since the selection is still going through a bit of fine-tuning. He explained to us that Scarlet’s still going some sort of extended dry run but is very much operational (like Death Star II *adjusts glasses*). Scarlet, Katsu and Craft share one kitchen and since Scarlet is a wine lounge, whole meals aren’t really the focus here although if you crave for more than finger food, they’d gladly serve you items from Katsu or Craft. But we’re here to sample what Scarlet has so let’s get started.
They started us out with this wonderful Rib-Eye Salpicao (P395). Already the combination of the words “rib-eye” and “salpicao” suggest something almost indulgently pornographic. These wonderful cubes of meat are cooked in garlic olive oil and a reduction of sweet soy wine sauce. It’s all sorts of wonderful with its savory goodness heightened with garlic and accented with a slightly sweet and tangy hint of flavor. It’s served on a bed of fresh onion rings and lettuce and topped with a heaping of shoestring potato fries. You’d think that you wouldn’t bother with the bed of greens but the sauce mixes so well with the lettuce that you’ll make simot the entire plate, pare.
Now you have to have oysters in a wine lounge. You just have to. Scarlet offers a variety of oyster dishes for you to feast on—from your usual fresh oysters to the much beloved oysters Rockefeller. What they served next, I have never tasted before and naturally, I was eager to try it. The Crispy Oysters (P365) are battered and lightly fried with tempura flakes, tossed in a spicy sauce and served with diced cucumbers. The figurative weight of the slightly spicy fried oysters balances out with the cucumber and the tiny bed of shredded cabbage underneath it. I recommend eating this in one bite. Like a boss. Come on. They’re oysters.
We ended our meal with a couple of shooters. The Kamikaze (P225) is a sweet and tart shooter you drink like tequila except you don’t go “GUUUAHHH” after the shot. The Brain Hemorrhage isn’t on the menu yet but I’m sure pretty soon it will be. It looks nasty but tastes really good. The Irish cream’s the brain curdled on top of the schnapps and the grenadine is the leaking blood. I’m a beer guy and didn’t know how this drink was made so I found it interesting when they explained it to me. This would make for an appropriate Halloween shot.
After our meal, we looked around and saw this interesting machine. It’s a wine dispenser. How it works is you buy a card that’s got whatever value loaded into it then you swipe the card through the machine and it dispenses either a taste, a half glass or a full glass worth of whatever wine is loaded. It keeps the wine at the optimum temperature for serving and dispenses of the hassles of corking and uncorking. Pretty cool.
Scarlet also has its own version of happy hour in their wine-all-you-can promo. For P495, you can have your fill of wine from 6pm to 10pm, Monday to Saturday. Sweet deal, isn’t it? Yup. High five.
Wine all you can
We thank the people of Scarlet and head out the door. Another night, another meal, another adventure. I’ll be back for Craft to conclude my siege of The Fort. ‘Til next time. Roll credits.