Burger mashup with apples, figs, singkamas, and bacon? How about adding a thick layer of mac and cheese into your burger? Holy macaroni, sounds crazy! But it's crazy good, in an epic meal time kind of way. If belly busting unique eats delight your carnivorous appetite, then load up on creative burgers at B&B Burgers and Brewskies, a new burger joint where you can expect anything but the ordinary in your sandwich.
From New York to Manila
"Francis has been living in New York for over twenty years. We met there through common friends. And when I moved there for four years, we'd be hanging out every day. And when I'd visit once a year, he cooks for us," Mike Floro shares about his friend Francis Balbarin. And the star of their cookouts? You guessed it right: burgers. I learn from Mike that Francis has been grilling these tender meaty things for years, so he's got his signature beef burger patty down pat. "I'd tell him, okay, I'll just give you my kitchen, we'll wait for the burgers!" Marc Nocon adds, laughing. Francis' monstrous hankering for burgers--preparing them, cooking them for others, and eating them himself--was just getting bigger, that he then shares to his friends that he had always dreamed of opening up a burger place. Not just your typical fast food burgers wrapped in plastic for grab and go, but a restaurant to experience these sandwiches in a laid-back restaurant with their beverage of choice: beer.
"He's been wanting to do this for about seven years now," Mike reveals. That seven year itch needed to be scratched badly. Mike already has an extensive background in bars, so along with Francis and Marc, who is a chef consultant, the three of them joined forces early this year to make their burger dreams come true. First step was joining bazaars, which proved to be successful gigs for the burger trio. One of these was Best Food Forward, where I first encountered their burgers; they were such a hit at the weekend food fair that on the morning of day two, they ran out of burgers. 'With the bazaars, we had no fixed menu," Mike explains, that these events were testing ground for different flavor and topping combinations to see which ones the customers would prefer. After three bazaars, it was time to finally open up shop at their new headquarters, Burgos Circle in Forbestown, BGC.
My first B&B burgers from Best Food Forward
"We wanted something like this place we hang out at in New York, it's called Spitzer's Corner," Mike tells me, sharing that their favorite gastropub is the perfect place for their group to chill all night--no frills, just good food and cold beer. In B&B, earthy browns dominate the two storey establishment, completing its simple and masculine interior. A couple of eye-catchers serve as key pieces: the restaurant's mismatched recycled wood adding texture and character to their walls, and a beer bottle chandelier wherein a lot of effort has been put into its completion. By effort, I mean every beer bottle placed on the light fixture was first consumed by the guys. Can you count how many brewskis they had to chug in one night?
Juicy Encounters, and The No Ketchup Rule
Here's the B&B burger breakdown: each burger patty on their menu weighs 1/3 of a pound and uses 100% pure beef, imported meat. No binders nor extenders in them that changes the profile of the patty, to keep it pure. They also never freeze the burger patty and create them by batches, so customers can expect that what they order and eat right then and there was just made on that very same day. By default, the patties are cooked medium, as they want customers to experience the fresh off-the-grill juiciness of the burger. But hey, if you're more of the well-done and quite dry persuasion, then go with whatever floats your boat and request for that. The burgers are encased in a soft, slightly sweet brioche bun, firm enough to hold all the toppings, but thin enough not to tug away the attention from the meat. They also use shredded lettuce for all burgers, giving a different texture yet familiar flavor.
First thing's first--one look at their burger lineup and you know it will be serious business for you and your belly. We're talking about Creative Burgers, a battalion of eight (and more to come!), armed with curious weaponry like apples, figs, singkamas, mac & cheese, and bacon. I don't think any burger joint in Manila has the exact same flavor combinations, so try to order a different burger every time you visit B&B!
Come prepared with a ravenous appetite, and remember that there is only one ultimate rule in the B&B warzone: No Ketchup. "We're not trying to be snobs here," Mike points out, "it's just that you have to try the burgers first as they are." Come to think of it, maybe asking for ketchup is like a knee-jerk reaction whenever we eat out, something we've done out of habit and not really out of necessity. For hot and spicy lovers, no worries though, as they have hot sauce in the restaurant. When your order of burger arrives on your table, immediately you can see why there's no need for ketchup: all burgers are heavyweights already on their own, gloriously embraced with generous toppings, that adding the sweet red condiment will only overpower every element in the burger.
Let's start off with the burger that's most close to a classic. B&B's Relish (P225) has your usual tomato, onion, and lettuce trio to complement the burger, yet they are presented in a novel way. Tomato is rendered into a sweet and tangy jam, onions are pickled, and what's that slathered on the top bun? Surprise, some basil garlic pesto! Familiar flavors, interesting textures, and awesome presentation. For fans of 'Breaking Bad,' your eyes are bound to lock into the Heisenberg (P250) on their burger menu. This Heisen-burger celebrates the now concluded television series with some blue stuff--nothing illegal, folks, just good old bleu cheese sauce! Along with the sauce is some bacon vinaigrette for salty and sour; my favorite add-on here, though, is the jicama celery slaw. When will you ever say that you had singkamas on your burger and loved it? Perhaps it didn't event cross your mind to even combine this root veggie with burger, but the creative guys at B&B have made it possible. The slices of jicama added that unique crunch in every chomp of the burger, and my tastebuds enjoyed every bite.
Now, the next two burgers were the favorite of my friend and I that evening. Yep, that is four burgers for two ladies, and we wiped out the last two entirely because they had slices of bacon. I believe with all my heart that bacon and burgers are forever a good pair (your argument is invalid). The Kandi (P265) was a sight to behold. Just look at the photos below--it's a headturner, that beautiful thing waiting to be wholly taken by you. It's begging for it, beckoning you to come closer and consume. Topping the burger patty is gooey B&B cheese sauce, then in comes onion confit, soft and sweet. Two strips of spiced candied bacon lay side by side, completing the stack. It is a party in the belly, flavors exploding and dancing to the beat of your every bite.
Our last bacon-loaded B&B burger was Call The Nurse (P290), an aptly named masterpiece. Have a look at that photo below, and you'd be tempted to lick it right off your screen.
From bottom up, that's shredded lettuce serving as a cushion for the 1/3 pound all beef patty, which snuggles warmly with its blanket of B&B cheese sauce and spiced mustard aioli. Then the guys had this crazy idea to put in a chunk of carbs in the form of seared mac & cheese cut into a neat rectangular shape. Al dente and downright comfort food, the pasta-burger hybrid is made extra awesome with a duo of bacon slices glazed with honey and sriracha. We literally were in jaw-dropping awe of this macho of a burger, and all I could think of is "How can I eat this thing?!"
I tried approaching it through its cross section, slicing it in half to share the love (a.k.a. calories and carbs) with my friend. It still seemed like a mouthful to sink into, so I cut it again in half, then popped it in my mouth. Really, with these kinds of incredible and inventive toppings in one's burger, who would dare to add ketchup? Just a friendly reminder: eat this in moderation and enjoy it slowly, lest you intend to have someone call the nurse to have yourself checked!
To wash all that burger lusciousness down, the restaurant has different brewskis for your picking. They offer both local and imported, and the top picks of Mike for the burgers we had for that evening are the Tripel Slaapmutske (P280), Sapporo (P100), and Hitachino (P280). My favorite cold brewski out of the three is the bold Belgian beer, while the Japanese 'owl,' a.k.a. Hitachino, is my friend's pick of the night.
Imported brewskis to pair with your burgers
Belgian Beer for a Nightcap: Slaapmutske Triple
While burgers and beers are clearly the rockstars in this burger joint, the folks at B&B want to share as well that they're not just about burgers and brewskis. If your gut allows more food space, you can order B&B Nachos (P240) perfect for sharing. Their nacho chips are served with a cheesy mix of picadillo meat, fresh tomato salsa, jalapeno slices, and sour cream. You can also wing it with their lineup of chicken appetizers, such as the Sesame Sriracha Wings (P190) that features the Asian hot sauce with an infusion of honey and sesame. They also have other wing flavors, so take your pick among Buffalo (P215), Sweet Chili (P190), Zesty BBQ (P190), and Honey Garlic (P190).
Sesame Sriracha Wings
If you're not much of a beer person, there's a slew of refreshing cocktails for you to choose from. Liquid courage at B&B can also come in the form of a Mango Michelada (P140), Chocolate Martini (P180), and Calamansi Key Lime Pie Martini (P160), all three playing sweeter notes on your palate than your bottle of cold brewski.
Calamansi Key Lime Pie
It was an epic evening of sloppy firsts and second helpings (and tasty thirds--hey, no shame, we came prepared and hungry!) at B&B Burger and Brewskis. Dining at this new burger joint in town proved to be juicy, messy, but lipsmackingly good. Just ditch that calorie and carb count when you step into B&B, because a great burger feast awaits--and paired with their good old rock music playlist, I know I found myself a new pitstop before I call it a night and head home.