Savage opens this week in The Plaza at Arya BGC, and at its helm is Chef Josh Boutwood, The Bistro Group's corportate chef who in 2017 opened the reservations-only private restaurant The Test Kitchen (also in collaboration with The Bistro Group). In Savage, the chef and his team are doing things quite differently — the cooking here returns to its pre-industrial roots, with fire and smoke the reigning methods.
Savage opened its doors last week for private food tastings for media and special guests, and the chef later shared to me after our lunch that while the concept of the restaurant has been brewing for more than a year, it was only last Monday did they actually start cooking. "We only really started cooking on Monday," Boutwood says, "So none of the ideas have ever been tested!" In the kitchen, the challenge of open fire cooking presents so many variables, and they rely on instinct. And this type of rawness–stripped of the trappings contemporary cooking–is what the chef has been craving for, and now he is ready to serve you his food. While the cooking methods in Savage are 'brute,' the dishes here have a certain grace in their deliciousness, which then makes you want to crave for more bites — so it's best to come here with a savage appetite.
Here's your first look at some of the dishes you can look forward to at Savage:
Boutwood shares that he's been brewing the concept of pre-industrial cooking — going back to the basics — since the beginning. "For a challenge," he says, when asked why an open-fire restaurant is what he wanted to open next. "In the Test Kitchen we have the help of modern technology — I'm not saying it's not fruitful nor fulfilling for us, but I felt that I needed to challenge myself, and doing something that didn't have the need for any electrical gas would be beneficial for me as a person with that addictive personality that I have. I felt that was the right challenge to do."
And how challenging has it been, so far, with a more 'primal' kitchen? "It's been in the making for over a year, but we only really started cooking on Monday," the chef answers. "So none of the ideas have ever been tested! Everything was done, everything was just run through my head — all the dishes, how they would be cooked, how the flavors will pair once they touch the oak and the smoke, and everything like that. So since Monday we got in to cook, and that was the first time we actually tried all these dishes that we've had the recipes. I hibernated The Test Kitchen for the sole purpose of this place. So now we just opened, for this week we got the press in, test all the recipes, make changes on the fly, and then open straightaway. Because we were really having withdrawal symptoms not cooking."
"My core team here is from The Test Kitchen, but the cooking here is horrendously different," the chef adds. "Systems are the same, everything is prepped from scratch and everything's done precisely, but when it comes to the actual cooking of the items, there's no recipe on where to put it on the grill, where the hotspot's going to be on the day…"
"There are many variables. So we're training more on intuition, and so that's why I'm on the hot station on the grill during this training time, and I probably will be staying there because I kind of like it there, until everyone's intuitions are on peak performance — to know when they should move it, turn it, when they should hang it to get the smoke, and all that. Maybe they should add a new log, and when if add a new log, it might bring down the temperature of the grill, so then they'd have to find it again — it's very much down to primal instincts. "
For guests dining at Savage who are well acquainted with Boutwood's The Test Kitchen, he explains that the experience in the new restaurant will be different. "The experience here is completely different, here it's more rock music and shareable food. We want guests to share, we want guests to be primal as well," he says, "You don't have to eat so prim with a knife and a fork, you know what I mean? We want it to be the complete opposite–the more savage you can be, the better suited you are to be our customer."
The menu of Savage is still evolving, and there's still more to look forward to with the restaurant's grill new and hot, flames eager to transform ingredients into all sorts of deliciousness. "We're going to keep a constantly evolving menu, in a sense," Chef Josh Boutwood says. "We planned when we first opened that every four months we'll change the menu… But right now it's every two days we're changing the menu," he adds with a laugh.
With Boutwood's incessant pursuit for a sense of fulfillment in the kitchen, there is truly more to look forward to in this brand new establishment set to champion pre-industrial cooking.
Savage opens today, April 16, at 6pm. It will have its regular daily store hours of lunch (11am – 3pm) and dinner (6pm – 10pm) operations starting tomorrow Tuesday, April 17. Savage is located at the ground floor of The Plaza, Arya Residences, Mckinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For reservations, call +63927-374-8539. Follow Savage on Facebook (/savageMNL) and Instagram (@savagemnl) for more information.