I discovered some of the best newly opened restaurants in the last quarter of 2013. It’s awesome to see how far the restaurant scene has grown in this country, and very humbling to be introduced to all these extremely talented and dedicated chefs whose passion for their food shines through each dish.
Chef Carlo Miguel is one of those talented, passionate chefs, and his creation, Black Olive Cerveceria, is one of the best restaurants I had the tummy-happy experience of checking out late last year. Oh, just reminiscing about all the simple-yet-beautifully-plated dishes is making my mouth water!
These little plates are more than little plates filled with boquerones and chorizo. The delicate rolls of Involtini of Grilled Eggplant, Roast Tomato, Feta Cheese, and Black Olives (Php 270) look like mini pieces of artwork that taste sweet, salty, and briny all at the same time, with a little bit of acid coming from the balsamic vinegar reduction sitting at the bottom of the plate. Give each piece a good roll around in the balsamic before popping them into your gob to appreciate all the intricate flavors this plate of tapas presents.
The Burrata with Prosciutto, Walnuts, and Marinated Olives (Php 485) is pretty straightforward, with the star of the dish being the oh-so-creamy Italian cheese. Although not as good as the burrata of Eataly in NYC (my personal baseline for burrata comparison), this does the job pretty well, with the walnuts lending a bit of crunch and the prosciutto lending its saltiness to the dish.
A favorite of mine is the colorful Grilled Octopus with Green Romesco & Black Olive Salsa (Php 230). The octopus was tender with just the right amount of chew to it, and the colorful Mediterranean platter held small cubes of diced veg – tomatoes, corn, cucumber, onions, and olives – that were simply seasoned with the fresh Green Romanesco tying all the flavors together. I wanted to scoop it all up and stuff it in my mouth, but there were people watching.
Watching the bartender serve glasses of beer is like watching an artist get to work on his canvas. Instead of chilling the glasses in the fridge, there’s a machine by the bar that chills the inside of the glass for you. There are a few draft beers to choose from at Black Olive, so pick your poison – Stella Artois, Chimay, St. Thomas, Hoegaarden, Beck’s, or Paulaner Munich Bier. I personally prefer the sangria, but most of the guys liked the Christmas Paulaner beer. I’m not sure if they still have that around though.
Not one for beer, I indulged in a few glasses of Black Olive’s Montrogue Sangria to pair with my tapas. I did try a Stella, but beer is still a taste I’m forcing myself to acquire, but vino always makes me happy. This was sweet with the velvety notes of the wine coming through, adding a touch of acidity to the smooth, fruity body. Hello, happy place!
I found the Crispy Boneless Chicken Wings with Mojo Picon (Php 280) to be expensive for its portion size. Although plated beautifully, I wasn’t anything special, really. I’d opt for a Korean chicken place if I wanted to get my wing on instead. This came with a fiery mojo picon that lightly torched my palate, but I would rather have had this slathered all over the wings instead of being plated under it, kind of like ketchup.
The Squid Ink Battered Prawns with Honey Aioli (Php 390) was crunchy, and soft, and just beautiful to look at with the inky black batter covering the fat, juicy prawns with only the bright orange tails giving the contents of the puffy parcel away. The honey aioli gives the tempura and sweetness that lingers on the tongue, making you want to go back for another battered prawn, and then another, and another… This is one sexy looking tapas.
Black Olive’s Barbecue Pork Riblets (Php 280) were nice and smoky, as expected, but I found the dish to be a tad too oily. Nevertheless, the ribs were fork tender and flavorful, with the oil keeping everything from drying out.
After having my fill of tapas, it was on to some of the beautiful-looking main dishes.
The Stracchi with Lamb, Black Olive, and Sage Ragu (Php 430) is made with pieces of handmade pasta cut up into odd shapes and sizes and served in a thick ragu. The sage complimented the lamb nicely, bringing out the delicate gaminess of the tender meat, and is definitely something worth splurging a little on,
Black Olive Cerveceria also serves brick oven pizzas, and this rustic Prosciutto, Arugula, Tomato, Mozzarella (Php 495) was light and simple, with the Italian flour giving the pizza its chewy consistency. Very Tuscan in its origins, I appreciate how the simple ingredients make for one awesome pizza.
A beautifully plated dish that also happens to be good for you is the Risotto Verde (Php 605) – a green risotto with crispy salmon fillet and a splodge of salmon tartare on top. The tartare is light and fluffy, going well with the risotto and the salmon was just a little underdone, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The Porchetta with Rosemary Roast Potato and Caponata (Php 490) was a devilish delight! Weight watchers beware, the porchetta is huge! Instead of being rolled up, as porchetta usually is, the perfect piece of porcine is laid out on the plate like a humongous, thick cube with layers of meat, fat, and crispy skin. It went very well with the shipped potatoes and caponata, making you feel a teensy bit better for devouring the dish in five minutes flat. Okay, fine. It made me feel better.
Another flavorful porcine dish is their Grilled Porkchop with Balsamic Figs & Mashed Sweet Potato (Php 480). Pork, figs, and sweet potato are the trifecta for a happy dish. All the flavors meld well with each other, the figs giving the sweet potato that extra oomph, it’s little seeds with the simply seasoned pork and sweet potato making for an interesting mouthful each and every time.
Dessert is never to be missed when out for a meal, and I tucked in to two of Black Olive’s best sellers.
The Chocolate, Almonds & Raisins Torte with Vanilla Ice Cream (Php 200) is pretty straightforward. The chocolate was dense, but not as rich as I would’ve liked it, and the taste of raisins completely takes over the dish. Scoop up a little of everything and enjoy!
Their Tiramisu (Php 230) is supposed to be the best in town, but I felt it was lacking in the rum department. It was still pretty decent tiramisu, despite the rummy let down, and the portion is pretty decent.
Overall, I had a grand time at Black Olive and enjoy the beautiful creations chef Carlo brought out of the kitchen. I love the fresh, Mediterranean touch he brings to bar grub, taking beer drinking and happy hour to a whole other level.
Black Olive Cerveceria is located at Unit R3A & B, Camino Verde Avenue, Capitol Commons, Meralco Avenue cor. Shaw Boulevard, Brgy. Oranbo, Pasig, and is open daily from 11am – 1am. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 917 507 3512.