Many of those who frequent Greenbelt must be quite familiar with Dillingers 1903 Steak & Brew. It has always been quite popular with foreigners, expats and locals who are seeking a night of casual drinking or light to heavy partying. However, the need to compete with burgeoning restopubs has pushed Dillingers to step up their game. “We’re confident in our ability to compete,” shares Panjee Lim, the establishment's Public Relations & Marketing Associate. “We’ve been around for some time now, and people know who we are and what we are about. We serve quality food and we don’t overprice. But even so, we still want to be able to offer new things to our old and new customers.”
Dillingers 1903 Steak & Brew
Located at Greenbelt 3, Makati
Dillingers’ revamped menu was a project that had been set on the backburner sometime prior. “We were so busy with our other events,” Lim says. “We opened Prohibition and organised an event in Boracay, along with some other things on the side. But earlier this year, we were able to set aside some time and really concentrate on conceptualising and developing our new food offerings. Of course, old favourites like the wings are here to stay, but there’s so much excitement going on with our new menu items as well.”
The appetizers alone go beyond the typical bar chow concept. The Shrimps Diavola (P345) is Dillingers’ palatable take on the traditional gambas with the basic ingredients: olive oil, garlic, and more crunchy garlic. They also have the Salpicao (P245), another Spanish dish consisting of tender beef cubes in an olive oil and garlic sauce. Some of their appetizers were combined together for us to be able to try more. The ever-famous, ever-perfect Buffalo Wings (P265) were served with their new Animal Fries (P245) to make a New York-inspired combo. The wings, in all their spicy glory, will always hold a special place in the hearts of frequent Dillingers customers. The animal fries, a lovely mess of ground beef, bacon bits, jalapeno and melted cheese, is a local take on the dirty fries made popular by American cuisine. Finally, we were able to try mini versions of some of their burgers: the All-American Burger (P320), Cheeseburger (P330) and Western Bacon and Cheese Burger (P395). The western bacon and cheese, in particular, is quite enjoyable thanks to the addition of a crisp onion ring on top of the patty.
A platter of Buffalo Wings and Animal Fries
A sampling of their burgers
The real “onslaught” began with the main courses. At this point on, our requests dwindled from one dish shared by two to one dish shared by four! A temporary respite came in the form of the Clam Chowder (P295), a soup dish with clams, bacon, potatoes, onions and celery in a bread bowl—just like how one’s mother could make it.
The Truffle Pasta (P295) is a delectable dish that a sensitive nose can pick up on quite easily. It is a mix of pure truffle oil and parmesan cheese atop spaghetti noodles, rendering it rich and flavourful. The Cajun Grouper (P395) is a fantastic foray into seafood dishes. According to Lim, Dillingers was not that big on seafood before, but the idea of novelty as well as respect for the preference of other customers led them to up their game in this particular area. Thanks to the tanginess of the mango-tomato salsa, this light, delicious dish was a unique break from the more heavy ones. We got right back on track with the Loco Moco (P295) an ultimate burger steak type dish of Hawaiian origin. “As of now, we are the only ones who serve it, so it is quite special,” Lim says with pride. This is sirloin burger atop jambalaya rice with a garnish of a sunny side-up egg and caramelised pineapple chunks. The slightly sweet sauce makes it a welcome alternative to gravy-based burger dishes.
The high point of the night was the Tomahawk (P2,995). No one had been prepared to face a steak dish of its gargantuan 42oz calibre. This hearty dish was served last, immediately making us regret bingeing so much on all those that preceded it. The meat is so soft and tender, cooked appropriately to a medium rare redness that allows it to retain its juiciness. To give a rough estimate, it is about the size of a 12-inch laptop (top-down!) in terms of length and width. Notably, Dillingers sells it at a very fair price. The dinner portion of the feature came to a close with their one and only dessert, the Lava Cake.
We were ushered into Prohibition to try some of their new cocktails. These interesting concoctions are prepared by top bartender Allan-King Roxas, winner of the Diageo Reserve World Class 2013 Bartender of the Year competition. Some of the night’s fun drinks were the Pink Lady (Tanqueray gin, fresh lemons and sugar syrup) and the Black Coffee (Johnny Walker Black, cacao, Drambule, portwine and fiery coffee beans). I was, however, most amused by the Cinema Rocks, a brilliant little project merging vodka and butter caramel popcorn together.
Allan-King Roxas in action
Dillingers is one to cater to those with a love of food and big appetites. While they are still in the process of making the establishment known as a new venue for the mere joy of casual dining, they can still guarantee to keep their old crowd—partygoing or not—thanks to the old and new gastronomic delights available for ravenous eyes.