After about a month of opening its doors to customers on soft-opening, Bait's Seafood Kitchen is officially open, launching with a dinner for media and guests. For seafood lovers wanting to catch fresh flavors unlike any other place in the metro, this place is something they should check out
Manning Bait's kitchen is Filipino Chef Joseph Margate, returning to his homebase after amassing impressive culinary experience abroad: at Jardinière in San Francisco, W Hotel and Lark in Seattle, Eleven Madison Park in New York, The Liberty Hotel's CLINK in Boston. Chef Joseph is also Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2011-2012 nominee. He brings with him to Bait's a refined kitchen ethos that highlights his European techniques, passion for creativity, and reverence for fresh, in-season local seafood.
A prime example of the chef's expertise is his selection of raw (or barely cooked) seafood, proof of delicate hands and the freshest ingredients possible. Dishes like Pickled Oysters (P52/piece) and Shrimp Carpaccio (P383) delight, the former a luscious, slurp-in-your-mouth oyster with a little heat from kimchee purée, and the latter, one of the most unique ways to consume raw shrimp: flattened out thinly as carpaccio, and with additional crunch, crisp, sweetness and zest with some toppings.
Bait's Raw Cuttlefish (chef's special/off menu) did not disappoint the uni lover in me: it's a bowl of cuttlefish sliced noodle thin and topped with uni (sea urchin) mayonnaise. Red Snapper Crudo (P225) is still as impressive as its early test kitchen serving at The Red Light, a plate of maya-maya in green tomato water, sambal, and katsuoboshi.
A personal favorite is the Unagi Causas (P450/2 pieces) brushed with 20-year old balsamic and placed atop a bed of velvety whipped potato. Combining squid and crispy pork rinds on one plate, Squid a la Plancha (P258) with sofrito is one of the restaurant's best selling dishes.
Lapu lapu is laced with coconut and lime in their very refreshing Grouper Ceviche (chef's special/off menu), while lipsmacking glossy and slippery is Bait's Squid Ink Noodles (chef's special/off menu), the saffron butter coating the pasta with a luscious sheen, and its topping of angulas (baby eels) giving each forkful a hint of saltiness.
Two other dishes served at the launch that were also offered at The Red Light special dinner were Chef Joseph's 'surf and turf' plates: Grilled Prawns (P590) paired with crispy chicken skin and white beans, and Torched Spanish Mackerel (P444) paired with crispy pig ears and red lentils. The freshness of the seafood component bounces off well with the crisp texture of the meat pairing.
The seafood kitchen also has delicious offerings not necessarily from the sea: if you're craving for chicken, there's actually a Fried Chicken Sandwich (P321), and for beef, there's Corned Beef Tongue (P291). If you love offal, their deep fried Chicken Gizzard & Liver (P357) fried rice is must-try. Arrive parched for a nightcap at Bait's and leave boozy with their selection of Bottle Cocktails packaged amusingly (and conveniently) like medicine bottles. Don't leave the restaurant without trying a dessert or two -- we hear that Chef Joseph's Butterscotch Pot (P210) is delightful. I recommend Bait's Cheesecake (P220): served in a small pot for portion control, the calamansi curd cheesecake with fine graham has a fine, velvety texture so delightful to run around my mouth and tongue, swirling the zesty-sweet flavors until it melted.
Note: serving size of plated food in photos are smaller than actual restaurant serving size
Visit Bait’s Seafood Kitchen at the Ground Floor of Signa Designer Residences, Valero corner Rufino St., Makati City. It is beside Sabao. Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 11pm, Sunday 4pm to 11pm. Like on Facebook (/baitsph) and follow on Instagram (@BaitsManila).