Side story – so I have been relatively inactive nitpicking on places to go to for great food these past, oh say, three or four months maybe? After being stuck right front center of a hotly contested tiff late last year, I have been on a sabbatical in as far as giving a few of you folks ideas on the best places to dine out – reason being its your girlfriend or boyfriend’s birthday, you treating your mom to your first pay check, or just being plain simple hungry and you have no clue which places can give you the best bang for your buck. Cut to a few weeks ago – I know for a fact that our dear old friends over at Openrice Philippines have been regularly arranging get together nights for Openricers – old and new, regularly for some time now. In fact, the very first Eat’s a Date, I did get an invite except that it was the middle of workday so I had to beg off. More than the food, I regret missing the chance I had to finally shake hands with a few of my fiercest reviewing(*ahem ahem*) rivals (of course now, I guess we all feel like elder statesmen to the new crop of Openricers strutting their stuff). I did manage to attend one other Eat’s a Date after that – it was dinner so I had no excuse whatsoever to not be there. I thought that would be the last invite I’d get from them, being the lazy prodigal Openricer that I have been for some time now. Lo and behold, I still got an invite to another Eat’s a Date meet up – this time the GPS says its going to be at CBD right smack in the heart of Makati’s Central Business District.
Now listen – the old adage that a burger is still a burger no matter how you cook it is just plain wrong. CBD which stands for Cheesesteaks, Burgers and Drinks– relatively young in as far as the conciousness of your everyday Joe is concerned, makes an emphatic statement just to prove that saying as incorrect. And the amazing thing about it – not only do they bring it, they throw in wicked cheesesteaks and the most amazing pastries and drinks to boot. That being said, let’s take a wandering sidetrip through the streets of this new foodie hub find – and no, they got no color-coding so its free to order away at anything that catches your tastebuds.
The first thing that gets your attention immediately upon sitting down and cozying up inside a restarurant is how the whole look feels like – truth be told, this is the second time I have been at CBD and the first time I was here, the simple lines, the muted color scheme, the bright interiors all lined up perfectly to give you that warm cozy welcome impression. The livery of CBD is as simple and direct to the point as you can get – for some understating it would simply not work – but for CBD’s, it essentially meant its here to be in business – no fuss, no beating around the bush – just good old fashioned great food embodied by their green and white. The interior seating is a mix of wooden tables, plush green couches and light brown colored chairs. There is a part of the dining area that is accented by simplistic lamps hanging from the ceiling. One wall depicts the colors of the country’s Central Business District hued together with a few notable items that can be had via CBD’s menu. Another side of the wall has a line of wallclocks depicting timezones from a few significant centers of commerce from around the globe – do we hasten to conclude if the stock market had anything to do with such a neat concept? The place accomodates diners who either want to stay cool indoors airconditioned, or those who prefer to stay outside and dine al fresco. The service was mighty efficient – I am happy to report too that once again, their best foot forward was evident that night – see the thing is I had a chance to compare my first regular visit with them and this visit, being it an Openrice Philippines event. The level of service shown was almost the same if not equal to the first time I had been here. I guess the only differentiating thing was the fact that this time around, they were happy to explain to us the food we were partaking in. Alright – enough of the small talk – lets talk brass tacks.
There were a bunch of people actually that got invites to this dinner gig by Openrice so the amount of food – if it could be measured in decibels – probably was near break-your-eardrum level. Seriously, there was a lot. The wife, being an part-time Openricer herself, tagged along for the night. We already had an idea what was really good – like I said a while back, this wasn’t our fisrt time here. I knew for a fact that their hickory smoked beef brisket was absolutely divine – and ordering it again was being too safe. I had to go for one their burgers – the Chicago Peppercorn Burger immediately caught my attention (being a self-confessed anything spiced by peppercorn lover that I am), so I immediately placed an order for it. The wifey wanted to wrestle with their Bacon Cheesesteak Sandwich. Right before we got what we asked for, we were served with a few of their notable sides – their CBD Buffalo Chicken Strips, their Curly French Fries, their original fries and their take on Onion Rings. Among the fares I mentioned, top honors go to their version of Buffalo styled chicken strips – the sauce in particular that coated the chicken was so good especially when paired with the dip that went along with it. Runner up has got to be their Curly Fries – the crispy batter was loaded with flavor that foregoing ketchup or mayo would be understandable.
The night did belong to a the headliners me and the wife ordered though. The peppercorn crusted burger was a homerun – obviously inspired by a way steak can be cooked, this rendition of this famed all-American sandwich was a rendition that any burger lover would certainly enjoy digging his taste buds in. The patty itself was cooked perfectly, - it was seared on the outside while retaining that moist and juicy inside. The crispy onion rings that went with their in-house steak sauce placed on top was an explosion of flavor and texture and walking away from it became so difficult bite after bite. The Bacon Cheesesteak sandwich on the other hand, was a chock-ful of thinly sliced premium beef, a good amount of bacon and loads and loads of melted cheese – a little slice of sandwich heaven if the wife had to describe it according to her.
As a final treat, and one that truly ensured this to be a fantastic gastronomic event, CBD whipped up a batch of their own version of that favorite diner drink - milk shake – with a huge twist – they mixed in your favorite cake with scoops of ice cream and viola!, calling it Shake and Bake! We got the Apple Pie Shake and Bake – after one sip of that creamy sweet concoction, I found myself at a lost for words on how to describe how good it tasted. If milk shake tasted this sinfully good everytime, this could become illegal trust me. As if that wasn’t enough, we got served with a few new entries to their menu – another reason for those with sweet tooth like me to visit CBD – their own version of their Apple Walnut Cake, their devilishly red and yummy Red Velvet and that wonderful Dulce de Leche Cake that all made me sigh like I had gone to dessert heaven! This was not a period to the statement CBD has got what it takes – this was an emphatic exclamation point.
The night ended accomplishing the purpose it had sought – that good food goes extremely well with good people, and yes, meeting up and finally putting a face to the person across the internet page that seemed like bitter rivals to me at one point in time that i was a fledgling Openricer. This could not have been possible at all if not for the hardworking people inside the kitchen of CBD and those who are painstakingly looking after Openrice Philippines. Did I hear the bell ring? I guess its time for another bullrun towards CBD and the blue chip choices to make from their a-lister of a menu.