I’ve been dying to check out one of the poshest new hangouts in Makati. The place, the crowd, the music, the food, the drinks all looked like a dream when I saw the pictures of the opening. Good ol’ Dude 4 Food, Gerry San Miguel, was ordering drinks for Teddy Boy Locsin and popping bottles of champagne like it was nobody’s business! An opportunity to pay Sage Tapas Bar at the Shangri-la Hotel popped up soon enough, and it was a brilliant excuse for me to get all dressed up for a night on the town.
Sage has two levels, having replaced both Red and Conway, with the tapas bar below and the posh restaurant upstairs. Although I admit I’m not really an alcoholic by any means, I am known to enjoy a few glasses of wine when the occasion calls for it. The drinks are what makes guests flock to Sage, but they stay for the delectable tapas created by Chef de Cuisine, Gilles Galli, which surprisingly, is also quite affordable.
If you’re looking for something different that might also impress your date, give Sage’s Beetroot Gazpacho Shot (Php 180) a go. Blitzed with red basil and lime, served with a tiny feta crostini, this is simple and fresh, with just a touch of earthiness from the beetroot, and presented in a shot glass.
Whet your appetite a bit more with bite-sized Saffron Brioche (Php 260) buns, the soft bread filled with smoked salmon and a thin layer of cream cheese.
There are a variety of cocktails available on the menu, a few of the more popular ones being the Sage Martini, Gin Basil Smash, Spring Fling, Whiskey Sour, Manhattan, Negroni, and Trish Blossom. The drink that I particularly liked and kept ordering again and again was the Waikiki Punch – Sage’s take on the rum-based piña colada, made with thick coconut cream and pineapple aftertaste.
A posher take on potato balls is the bar’s Crab Brandade (Php 300), made with real crab and seasoned with fennel and cloves for a little kick. Personally, I’d pass on this, as this tasted a little underseasoned.
One the other hand, the Fried Vegetable Wontons with Sambal Sauce (Php 200) was nicely executed, with the fried wonton wrappers being crispy without being oily, and the vegetables being pretty filling, I didn’t even notice it didn’t have any meat.
The Red Mullet Tartine (Php 320) looked more like an open-faced sandwich than actual tapas, with an olive tapanade and a basil purée. It was nice, but a bit pricey for a few mouthfuls.
A better value for money in my opinion, is Sage’s take on the Middle Eastern Dolma (Php 280), which are essentially vegetables stuffed with pork and beef with a tomato relish, like little veggie boats in a tomato sauce sea!
For vegetarians, a colorful and interesting on the item is the bar’s take on “Italian Grits” or Grilled Polenta (Php 180), which has smooth cornbread consistency, taken up a notch with just a touch of lavender and served with a bell pepper confit.
A lover of most dishes that are heavily spiced, a personal favorite that night was the Arabic Phyllo Cigar (Php 360). Lamb spiced with a North African ras el hanout spice and figs are wrapped in phyllo rolls and served with a sweet confit, the spices culminating beautifully on the tongue. I am quite wary of the price point for just two phyllo rolls, but aside from the spices being hard to source here, you really can’t get this anywhere else.
You get Three Choices of Dessert (Php 360) according to the menu. There was Catalan Cream made with caramel ice cream and citrus marmalade, which was quite simple and straightforward; Tocinillo del Cielo made with vanilla ice cream and candied lemon, my favorite of the lot; and Turkish Delight, which was deceiving in the dim lighting that I mistook for chocolate ice cream, but as it turns out is made with a coffee ganache, an orange jelly, and green cardamom.
Aside from the never ending stream of alcohol and the excellent tapas, the performances at Sage is yet another reason to keep coming back. The group we listened to for most of the night had an amazing jazz and blues singer channeling Amy Winehouse for most of the night and was fantastic entertainment.
So when you find yourself in dire need of libations and some really good entertainment, look no further than Sage Tapas Bar at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati and don’t forget to tag #SageMNL when you feel like posting your debauchery on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Here are some of our dapper gents with our very generous, pretty hosts that evening. Cheers!
Sage Tapas Bar is located at Lobby Level Makati Shangri-la, Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Avenue, Ayala Center, Makati, and is open daily between 5pm – 2am. For inquiries and table reservations, please call +63 2 813 8888.