After Chef Bruce Lim closed the doors on his restaurant, Chef’s Table in Bonifacio Global City, I thought that would be the last I’d see of the celebrity chef mucking about a restaurant kitchen. Aside from starting his food commissary business, supplying food items to convenience stores and restaurants, I resigned myself to only be seeing Chef Bruce being The Boss on the telly.
But in an unlikely team-up, considering that fact that the two didn’t know each other personally prior to the collaboration, Bruce has partnered with savvy businessman Tony Boy Cojuangco in Bruce Lim’s Rustique Kitchen, located along Pasay road, where the old Le Regalade used to be.
The concept of Rustique Kitchen is simple – comfort food, using familiar Filipino flavors with a twist and some international favorites. The restaurant officially opened its doors last July, and its menu is still evolving, as new inspiration and seasonal ingredients come in for Chef Bruce to play around with.
To start, Chef Bruce makes a mean Lapu-Lapu Ceviche (Php 350) using fresh rockfish marinated in a citrus vinaigrette, cutting through the sourness with the added salty crispy danggit on thin slices of pickled radish. The contrast of flavor and texture is something very common in Chef Bruce’s dishes, that always leaves you wanting for a little more.
Taking a continental salad and infusing some Filipino personality the Caesar Salad (Php 225) becomes a lot more delectable with char-grilled romaine lettuce and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes with a thick Caesar dressing with freshly pressed roasted garlic and generous shavings of queso de bola, the local equivalent of American’s love of Parmesan or the Brit’s unhealthy dependence on Cheddar.
One might mistake these little golden nuggets for crab cakes – you’d be in for a surprise. Pata Fritters, one of the m any new Filipinized dishes of Chef Bruce Lim is what you would probably get after said crab cakes and a piece of tender pork loin had a seedy love affair. Instead of shreds of Dungeness crab being tossed in herbs and breadcrumbs before fried a golden brown, the seafood is swapped out for fall-off-the-bone pork instead. Warning: You won’t be able to stop at just one.
A personal favorite of mine is Rustique Kitchen’s Bruschetta with Foie Gras and Jam (Php 450), with the mango jam adding a light, fruity aftertaste to the rich and creamy pieces of foie gras, both practically melting in ones mouth with the crusty sourdough bread giving it texture.
Prices at Bruce Lim’s Rustique Kitchen are quite reasonable, case in point, the humble Tortang Talong (Php 150). A fried eggplant is stuffed with sautéed pork turned into an omelette of sorts and topped with slices of salted egg.
The Fish Market (Php 550) is Chef Bruce Lim’s creative take and highlighting fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The lapu-lapu baked in a light marinara sauce and cradled in pandan leaves, served with haricots verts, and crispy dilis strewn among marble potatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection, firm on the outside, but easily flakes off when handled with a fork.
If you’re looking for something heartier, the Ldb and Duxelle (Php 435) will not disappoint. Ox tongue is slow-braised until tender and served with mushroom duxelles, carrots, corn, potatoes, and a caramelized onion cream sauce served en croûte.
Another comforting dish would be a big plate of pasta, and Chef Bruce does us all one better with his Beef Steak Pasta (Php 390) – grilled hanger steak served atop penne pasta in a creamy citrus sauce. Buttery caramelized onions, fried shallots and sautéed mushrooms finish the dish off, a lunch or dinner dish befitting a hungry traveler looking for something to suit a more Western palate.
For families dining out, Chef Bruce came up with the Slab Menu, introducing big servings of Tomahawk Steak and Pork Confit that are fit for sharing, communal-style, which is also happens to be very Filipino. The Baked Salmon Slab was wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked perfectly, a little underdone, with the flavor of the fatty fish shining through. This is served with a yogurt-dill dip, nicely complimenting both the delicate salmon and the roasted marble potatoes it comes with.
For those who are looking for a more Filipino dish to share, one must try the Sizzling Ox-Tail Kare-Kare (Php 550). Tender portions of oxtail, having been simmered for hours, are covered with creamy peanut sauce served with pechay, Baguio beans, and banana heart, served in a hot cast iron skillet with a side of bite-sized strips of tripe already tossed in bagoong (shrimp paste) and fried rice cakes.
If you’re looking to impress, the gorgeous Grilled Ribeye Steak (Php 945) always delivers, and isn’t so heavy on the pocket, too. Using tender USDA rib eye, the cut of meat is grilled ’til medium rare and garnished with fried red onions and shavings of Parmesan cheese served with gravy and potato pavé on the side.
Chef Bruce puts a lot of creativity in his desserts, which makes Rustique Kitchen a dessert lover’s paradise. The Warm Chocolate Tart (Php 250) is a chocoholic’s dream come true with strawberries and cream to cut through all that cocoa, The rich Quesong Puti Cheesecake (Php 250), the classic baked cheesecake is dressed with macerated mangoes and sliced strawberries.
Chef Bruce Lim brought back a few favorites from his old restaurant, including his Signature Buko Pie (Php 150), his take on Tagaytay’s favorite pasalubong, with crushed pie crust at the bottom and warm, creamy young coconut and brown sugar on top. This is a delicious Filipino treat to try for travelers who still have yet to wrap their heads around local desserts.
Chef Bruce Lim is back and even better than before! The other comfort dishes he has tweaked with his own unique style will keep you coming back, like the Lamb Rack Crusted with Pili Nuts, Duck Confit with Kalabasa Cream Sauce, Country Style Braised Pork Humba and other classic favorites like Cornish hen, burgers, and steaks.
Bruce Lim’s Rustique Kitchen is located at the Leelin Building on 820 A. Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road), Makati City. Open Mondays to Fridays, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 6 p.m. onwards for dinner. It is also open for dinner on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays. For inquiries or to reserve a table, please call +63 2 750 2104 or +63 2 750 2106.