In 2007, Chef Vince Rodriguez was asked by his brother’s close friend to cook for a party. It just so happened that the party was for OPM superstar, Ogie Alcasid. And who should be in attendance that night but none other than the Queen of all Media herself, Kris Aquino. She was so impressed with the food that she called Chef Vince the following day to enlist his services for Bimby’s baptism. Peppermill Caterers was thus born. Their impressive list of clients includes names such as Regine Velasquez, Cacai Velasquez, Judy Ann Santos, Dra. Vicki Belo, to name a few. After 7 years in the catering business and insistent clamor from people who can’t get enough of his food, Chef Vince finally decided to put up a restaurant.
Peppermill Restaurant and Mixology Bar sits in the old space that Café 205 used to occupy in the Place One Building along Katipunan Extension. It just opened on March 8 of this year but Chef Vince’s culinary savoir-faire makes diners feel as if the restaurant has been around for much longer. Along with crowd favorites from his catering repertoire, Chef Vince also serves spirits infused with different flavors thus the mixology part of his restaurant’s name.
The food at Peppermill is a feast not just for the taste buds but for the eyes as well. The plating is so carefully and artfully done that it’s almost a shame to dig in. The menu is divided into several sections; the first, as expected, is the appetizers. Start off with Chili Taco Poppers (P235), Ilocos chili filled with spiced Mexican Beef, wrapped in Jabañero dough, and deep fried. It is then served in shot glasses with ranch sauce. The pop of spiciness given off by the chili warms up the tongue. It goes nicely with its fellow appetizer, the sweet and crunchy Shrimp Popcorn (P325).
Peppermill serves an eclectic mix of cuisines from Filipino to Italian to American to Japanese and more. It’s the perfect place for a group of people who feel like eating different fare from all over the world. For those in the mood for Asian dishes, start off with the Hanoi Salade (P285). One bite of the fresh mix of crisp, raw vegetables, sweet shrimp, tangy pomelo, salty adobo flakes is like a party in your mouth. Follow this up with any of Chef Vince’s delectable sushi creations. Fire Cracker (P395), with its luscious combination of US scallops, shrimp, and kani, coats the mouth with a nice balance of saltiness and the distinct sweetness of seafood. Rainbow (P395) is just as mouthwatering with smoked salmon, cream cheese, fish tempura with a pleasant counterpoint of mango salsa and cucumber to cut its richness.
Some of the items on the menu are named after places such as the nod to Chef Vince’s heritage, Ilocos (P375). It’s a simple dish comprised of a succulent slab of perfectly fried bagnet, bagoong relish, and steamed rice that really hits the spot. Speaking about hitting the spot, Thailand (P375) also gets the job done nicely. The beloved Thai bagoong rice is given an upgrade in this dish. The bagoong that they used was so pleasantly pungent that its smell permeated the dining area. They used pork belly for the sweet pork which made eating it all the more interesting.
From Asia, let’s go to Europe. Specifically, Italy. It’s interesting to note that some of the Italian dishes on the menu have a Filipino twist. Vigan (P445) is an olive oil-based pasta dish that features garlicky Vigan longganisa, sundried tomatoes, artichoke, and olives. The mishmash of ingredients gives off a nice Mediterranean flavor. It’s said to be a Kris Aquino favorite. Pizzas in Peppermill are oblong and thin crust. Some of the must-tries are: Da Vinci (P385/425) is smoked chicken or shrimp with spinach, artichoke, sundried tomato, mozzarella, and cream cheese. Cinco de Mayo (P385) is mozzarella, cheddar, fontina, cream cheese, and padano. Ilocos Bagnet (P455) is eggplant casserole, bagoong relish, scrambled egg, and mozzarella. If you can’t decide on one flavor, get the Trio Pizza (P565) which is a sampler of three flavors of your choice.
From Europe, let’s move on over to the U.S.A. There’s nothing more American than BBQ. Peppermill’s Agave Passion Fruit BBQ Beef Ribs (P1,245 full slab / P795 half slab) is a behemoth of deliciously tender and sweet meat with a bite of spiciness. If you order the full slab, you get a free pizza.
And of course there are the drinks. The non-alcoholic ones are just as good as the cocktails so whether you drink or not, you’ll be good to go. Try the Virgin Lychee Mojito (P115) where the lychee is mixed in with some mint leaves for a refreshing combination of sweet and cool. If you’re looking to get a little buzz, the Godfather (P185) is a good drink with which to start. It’s tequila infused with cucumber and basil which, once again is all kinds of refreshing. You might want to take it easy on the mixology cocktails though because they’re so yummy that it’s hard to believe that they pack quite a punch. The kick sneaks up on you and it’ll pounce before you even know what hit you. Good times.
Chef Vince Rodriguez is a quiet man, preferring to stay on the sidelines but he admits that it makes him happy when he sees people enjoying his food. Peppermill Restaurant and Mixology Bar is a place where food expectations are not only met but surpassed.
Peppermill Restaurant and Mixology Bar is open every day from 11am-10pm. For inquiries, you may contact them at (02) 9617129 or Like their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Peppermill-Restaurant-and-Mixology-Bar/519842511459164).