Testing (and Tasting) The Red Light Special: A Sneak Eat of Bait's Seafood Restaurant

Erwan Heussaff's latest concept goes theatrical with food and drink. Private food tastings have commenced at The Red Light, where one can experience how a small space in Makati sparks creative ideas, conversation, and collaboration.

A Taste of the Test Kitchen

The Red Light, located in Felipe Street nearby late night haunts El Chupacabra, H&J, and Tambai, is the first of its kind in the metro. Think of it as a new spot that's going to be a creative playground for chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, and food purveyors. Outside, an outdoor bar can be used for pre-dinner cocktails or a hang out space to drink until late night. Inside is a show kitchen framed by a twelve seat counter -- calling for interactions among the people dining and the people preparing the food and drink.

Photo from The Red Light Facebook

And as a kitchen playground, the output at The Red Light is dynamic, putting out food and drink that will be different every dinner. 'For example, you want to try some new dishes for your restaurant, or you're toying with the idea of opening a restaurant--you can start here, use this space as your test kitchen, invite people to try your food,' Erwan shares. And since The Red Light will be headlining different kinds of chefs, bartenders, and restaurateurs, each 'performance' will be unique in terms of styles and cuisines, so every visit will be different. Here, you are free to come together, collaborate and give birth to new ideas -- whoever is lighting The Red Light that day will be in full creative control of what they want to roll out for guests.

If the space seems familiar to you, that is because Erwan himself uses the kitchen to film videos for The Fat Kid Inside. You will know if something is brewing inside The Red Light if its signage is switched on outside, along with different signages ('Bar' and 'Kitchen') and 'On Air' if they are currently filming. 

The Red Light had Bait's as its first occupant for a few private food tastings. Bait's Seafood Restaurant is opening very soon in Salcedo Village, and at the helm of the kitchen is Chef Joseph Margate, Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2011-2012 nominee. In the private dinners, the chef showcased his forte of market-driven seafood creations, while Erwan created special drinks for everyone to try. The Starfish is a cocktail of spiced gin, Sevilla orange Bitters, lemon and melon juice, and syrup; Reefer, a personal favorite, is made with rum, dalandan liqueur, lemon juice, and coconut milk. The third cocktail is the whisky based Boulevard Felipe, with vermouth, St. Germain, grapefruit bitters, and campari.

Boulevard Felipe and Reefer

The Freshest Catch For Your Plate

If you are familiar with restaurant tasting menus, that is how Chef Joseph Margate served his would-be dishes at Bait's at The Red Light during our dinner. We had eleven plates to try, served in small portions, each one we witness coming to fruition as the show kitchen was just right in front of us twelve diners.

Chef Joseph Margate in action at The Red Light

The small space was conducive to conversations among friends and strangers, and had a great intimate atmosphere to focus on the food and the people carefully preparing them. Each dish is presented by Chef Joseph himself, and we took many opportunities to interview him about his favorite kinds of seafood ('the rawer the better') and ask him about different kinds of elements in the dishes (it was my first time to have soup with apples in them).

Boquerones Sky Flakes and a glass of Reefer

Our seafood menu that evening started with some Boquerones (a Spanish appetizer) served with crackers, a refreshing Tuna Tartare that makes only the freshest of fish shine, and Red Snapper Crudo, the chef's take on an Italian appetizer, that had green tomato water, sambal, and katsuoboshi. It may have been the least photogenic dish but the flavors were incredible, making it one of my favorites of that evening.

Tuna Tartare, Lemon Oil, Pickled Mustard Seeds
 
Red Snapper Crudo, Green Tomato Water, Sambal, Katsuoboshi

More bowls and plates of seafood arrive, one after the other: creamy and thick Mussel Chowder, Bottarga on Fresh Pasta (another favorite, the flavors and textures were so unique), Grilled Swordfish with yucca, and a Tilapia laced with turmeric, inspired by Chef Joseph's travels to Vietnam. Overcooked fish is a sad event for the palate, and thankfully each seafood dish that evening was masterfully prepared and cooked -- something seafood lovers should expect once the restaurant opens at the ground floor of Signa Designer Residences.

Mussel Chowder, Apples, Potatoes, Chives
 
Fresh Pasta, Bottarga, Broccoli, Bread Crumbs
 
Grilled Swordfish, Salsa Criolla, Fried Yucca
 
Tilapia, Turmeric, Cauliflower Couscous, Nuoc Cham

We also were served many different takes on the surf and turf, all of which I can say I have never had (or had anything similar) at a restaurant. There was squid paired with chicharon, prawns with crisp chicken skin, octopus with pork belly chunks, mackerel with pig's ears.

Squid a la Plancha, Sofrito, Chicharron
 
Grilled Prawns, White Beans, Parsley, Chicken Skin
 
Octopus & Pork Belly Salad, Salsa Verde
 
Torched Mackerel, Red Lentils, Crispy Pig's Ears

At The Red Light, you become a part of a curious audience, eager to experience whatever the artist in the kitchen feels like performing for the evening. With Bait's special performance that night, I am now excited for the restaurant to open and to try even more unique seafood dishes at their corner of Makati.

 

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The Red Light will be launching a website soon that will be open to the public, where people can reserve seats and/or purchase tickets, as well as check out upcoming events that will pop up in the venue. The Red Light is located at W Young Building in Felipe Street, Makati, across El Chupacabra. E-mail theredlight.ph@gmail.com and call (0917)585-4043 for inquiries. Follow The Red Light on Instagram (@theredlightph) and Like on Facebook (/theredlightph) to keep updated.

Bait's Seafood Restaurant opens very soon at the Ground Floor of Signa Designer Residences, Valero corner Rufino Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati. For inquiries, call (02) 556 5769. Like Bait's on Facebook (/baitsph), and follow on Instagram and Twitter (@BaitsManila).

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