Relik Tapas Bar and Lounge has proven itself to be an oasis for Manila’s party-savvy folk. Patrons are often eager to snag tables to rest their liquor on while they dance the night away. This time, Relik is more than ready to dip its toe into the pond of daytime dining. Late last year, they began to launch a new lunch special concept that has quickly become popular with the working crowd. All these dishes come at an affordable price of P199.
“We started last December,” shares May Liwanag, Marketing Head. “It hasn’t been very long yet, but some of the items on this menu have gained some fame among the people who work in the area. People have limited time and probably a set budget when it comes to going out for lunch, so we made sure to come up with quick, affordable but delicious dishes.”
On their lunch special menu, we were able to try the Pork Belly with Salsa Verde and the Grilled Tuna Steak. The pork belly dish is lovely to behold, with layers of fresh vegetables, rice, and tender pork belly topped with salsa verde forming a rainbow-like shape. I was, in particular, very happy with the salsa verde. It gives the dish a unique, zingy flavour that amplified the overall taste of the dish. I also found myself falling hard with the tuna steak, which is a simple dish that speaks of comfort and a little bit of innovation. A slice of perfectly grilled tuna sits upon a bed of mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. I found this quite unusual at first, as I never really had potatoes with fish before. This combination turned out to be the most pleasant surprise, as the texture and flavour of the potato went well with that of the tuna.
Grilled Tuna Steak
We were also able to sample some dishes from their regular menu. The Chorizo (P220) is the perfect appetizer or pulutan. Bits of chorizo are fried to a crisp, highly reminiscent of our beloved sisig. The Tinta Calamari Negra (P250) is a high-quality dish that amplifies the flavour of the squid by dipping the breading itself in squid ink. The breading is light and very thin, allowing the diner to focus on the wholeness of the squid ring inside.
One of their specials, the Pez Espada (P550), is butter-glazed swordfish with garlic and capers, drizzled with lemon and topped with crispy onions. Given its base, this rather rich dish is full on flavour and impact. The Arroz Con Pollo (P650) had us all pleasantly mystified due to how the chicken was cooked. It is identifiable as a roast, but there was a unique crisp to it that we could not quite place. The answer to the mystery is that it is a roast spring chicken cooked in a similar fashion as paella. We couldn’t get enough of it; even the saffron rice it is served with was attacked with vigour. Finally, we were able to sample their best-selling Beef Salpicao (P350), marinated beef in all its garlicky goodness. This requires no further praise other than that it is a must-try.
At this point, stuffed with so much savoury goodness, we eagerly moved on to their dessert menu. The Banana Cream Pie (P250) is sinful goodness in a (fairly deep!) small bowl. It was such a gratifying experience digging deep into the trenches of bananas, whipped cream and graham crust to find small treasures like chocolate chips at the bottom. The Baked Mango Crepe (P160) served as a great antithesis to its predecessor with its subtler sweetness, comforting flavour and warm, homey overall feel. We capped the night off with some of Relik’s specialty drinks: Red Sangria, White Sangria, Classic Mojito, and Mango Mojito.
Relik continues to herd the night scene by coming up with special themed nights. They have Akoustika Mondays and Fridays, with open mic starting at 9PM. Trivia Tuesdays, which we managed to catch (and is probably my favourite night event now), starts at 8PM. Here, one table represents one team, and the goal of the game is to win a free round of shots for each round won. This is followed by Unplugged Wednesdays and Tribute Thursdays.
It is interesting to see Relik evolve from its original mold. To loyal patrons, it will not just be a terrific place to party, but a place to unwind, eat affordable, delicious lunch, and join a round of trivia bearing the craziest team name yet.
Photos by Kat Carpio. Additional images courtesty of Relik.