Manila's (and the country's) tallest party place needs no introduction--what with its popular, stunning view of Makati that is unparalleled among its contemporaries in the nightlife scene--it's set against a backdrop of the city 71 floors above everyone else, as if you are clubbing in the sky. Drop by during a model's night, sunset sessions during Gentlemen's Hour (5:30pm -9:30pm on weekdays), and late night on weekends, and you'll be seeing thick crowds of well-dressed folk sipping their libation of choice while enjoying good company and good music.
What 71 Gramercy is, also--for those in the know who visit earlier in the evening--is a sumptuous dinner destination set at the tallest building in the country, with the popular Chef Carlo Miguel steering The Dining Room's culinary direction.
From refreshing to hearty, savory to sinful, 71 Gramercy's dinner menu at The Dining Room has a little something for all kinds of cravings. To have a good sampling of what Chef Carlo Miguel has to offer for your fine dining experience with an unparalleled view of the metro's cityscape, there are degustation menus (P1,880) which comprise of 6 courses; for your own a la carte dining, here are the chef's suggestions to begin and end your meal on a high note.
Cheese lovers should definitely start their evening with a mouthwateringly warm bowl of Gruyère Soufflé (P320) "I've been doing this souffle for 22 years," the chef reveals. This old favorite of his, a twice-baked Gruyère deep with its cheese flavors, actually did not have a recipe as Chef Carlo Miguel has been used to making it without exact portioning or measurement. "I don't personally use a recipe for it anymore," he shares, "so when I taught my guys, the sous chefs had to weight it as I moved along making it--every time I threw an ingredient in the pot, they'd have to go and measure it again." And measure it well by the grams they did, and palates are now spoiled with an official recipe of cheesy awesomeness. "Gruyère Soufflé is one of my favorites, seriously," Chef Carlo says, and it's easy to understand, once you've gotten a good forkful of the seriously cheesy and fluffly soufflé. Another indulgent appetizer is the Foie Gras Napoleon (P720): a seared foie gras tops a crisp puff pastry sandwich of caramelized apple and salad, with a swirl of aged balsamic on the plate for acidity. It's more delicate than a handheld sandwich, so you need assistance from your fork and knife on this one. It's like a salad and a napoleon in one, made extra luscious with a generous serving of fatty, buttery liver.
For lighter yet still sumptuous appetizer options, try the Cured Salmon (P380) and Tuna Salad (P380). For the first dish, salmon is cured in green tea, salt, and sugar for 24 hours and sliced very thinly. Pickled ginger and shallot dressing, olive oil, and a little pickling juice from the ginger rounds up the flavors; whipped feta and microgreens adds some tart and freshness. The Herb-crusted tuna salad, meanwhile, uses only local tuna. "We only use General Santos tuna, as fresh as possible, and always sashimi grade," Chef Carlo says. The seared tuna is brushed with a little bit of mustard, and is rolled in fresh herbs such as dill, chives, and parsley, and served with pickled onion, oranges and fennel salad, finished off with a dill mustard dressing. It's equal parts refreshing and rewarding in every bite.
"As Italians do, I like serving the pasta and risotto courses before the meat," Chef Carlo says. As a prelude to your meaty main event of steak or whatever protein of choice, a must try are 71 Gramercy's dishes showered with much truffle love: Tagliatelle Truffle (P480) and Crab & Shrimp Risotto (P460). The chef also mentions that he was taught how to make pasta by an old Italian lady. "I learned how to make real Italian food from a real Italian grandmother -- gnocchi and risotto, sugo, Sunday ragout, stuff like that -- that's the kind of stuff you can't pay for. It just happened, I chanced upon it," the chef shares. His Tagliatelle Truffle is like an amped up carbonara, where he creates prosciutto cream to toss with the pasta and to assemble on the bowl are other delicious components: black truffle paste, crisp prosciutto, 62⁰ egg, parmesan cheese. Mix it all to have all the elements come together for twirl upon twirl of truffled pasta succulence. The seafood risotto, on the other hand, is a dish that the chef has been doing for about eight years now: a white truffle risotto with sweet shrimp and crab meat from alimasag. "It's one of those risottos that I can always eat when I come here," says Chef Carlo.
Moving on to meatier frontiers, 71 Gramercy serves tender USDA Duck Breast (P820) with onion and thyme purée, and rhubarb compote for sweetness; Breakfast for Dinner (P580) which is a play on morning comfort food -- home-cured and smoked Berkshire pork belly with maple and brandy glaze, served with 62⁰ egg on top of a hash brown, mushrooms and tomatoes (a typical combination for Australian breakfast), and tomato fondant (which represents homemade ketchup). There's also the Roast Lamb (P880) featuring two cuts: shoulder for the confit ribs and the boneless lamb rack that is deboned and trimmed, and flavored on the inside with some rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest, then rolled and carved. The lamb is served with squash purée and crushed minted peas, and rosemary-garlic jus. For your seafood main course, a Chilean Sea Bass (P1,180) is served pan-roasted with lemon infused virgin olive and fork-crushed potatoes; topping the potatoes is an eggplant relish.
"And then there's ribeye," Chef Carlo Miguel says, recommending to steak lovers their carnivorous offering of Australian Sher Label Wagyu (P2,480/300 grams). "Marbling score of 8 to 9, Wagyu Ribeye, comes from North Queensland in Australia," he describes, and the meat they grill over charcoal and hickory wood chips to seal in the juices. Steaks are seasoned just right with sea salt and freshly cracked peppercorns, and served with a classic café de Paris butter which has garlic, mustard, herbs, and a little bit of anchovy. On the side, a classic peppercorn sauce (which you won't be needing, really---the steak is gloriously flavorful as it is). The steak is served that evening paired with their popular Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese (P220) and Creamed Spinach (P180) on the side.
After an evening of dishes so many and so sumptuous, the chef sits down with us. "I hope you made it to desserts," he asked. "Yes, we made it and tried all four of them," I proudly grinned. Out of the four desserts, the #LEGIT Chocolate Cake (P320) is the restaurant's long-running best seller. "It's super chocolate, chocolate overload," Chef Carlo shares, "that one has been honestly been our best, best seller since I put it on the menu." This dessert showcases different textures like a layer of flourless chocolate cake and a crisp chocolate shell, and three kinds of chocolate. It comes a bit playful and theatrical too, as you watch as the warm chocolate sauce being poured onto the cake, making its center collapse. While the chocolate cake is a sure winner, I actually found the Chocolate Banana Souffle (P320) more decadent, with a twice baked chocolate souffle served warm and with a generous pool of butterscotch sauce. On the side, two slices of caramelized bananas, and topping the souffle is salty peanut ice cream. Each forkful was incredibly sinful and toothsome. A dessert sure to please the sweetst of the sweet toothed is the Pavlova (P320), a fist sized meringue cake of mango and passion fruit seemingly demure but punchy with its fruity sweetness. To seal your evening meal with a dessert more subtle with playing it sweet, have a serving of Almond Tart (P220) that's crumbly like a cookie yet hefty and soft like a cake, with strawberries, rhubarb and burnt butter ice cream.
The Dining Room at 71 Gramercy is open from 6pm to 11pm from Monday to Saturday; last call for orders at 10:30pm. The Dining Room is a non-smoking area, and can seat up to 50 guests. For groups of 15 or more, pre-orders are required.
71 Gramercy is located at 71st Floor of The Gramercy, Century City, Kalayaan Ave. corner Salamanca Street, Makati. For table reservations, call (0917)8477535 or (0917) 8094093; visit their website (www.71gramercy.com), like their Facebook page (/71Gramercy) and follow on Instagram and Twitter (@71gramercy).