Friday, February 6, 2015

DINING | Bait's Seafood Kitchen: The new restaurant next door

So the new restaurant next door just opened last Tuesday. It's called Bait's Seafood Kitchen, and the other night after a quick look at their menu we tried it out.

Obviously it's a seafood place but other than that we knew nothing of it until Erwan Heussaff approached our table and asked us if he can help us navigate the menu. With that I could only assume he owned the place or that he's a partner at least. He later stepped outside and when he came back in he was ushering girlfriend Anne Curtis to a table.

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I didn't realize Anne Curtis photobombed this shot of Bait's.

But how was our experience? Here's a rundown.

Interiors and ambiance
Bait's uses a lot of wood, which, coupled with the dim lights and minimal decor, affords the place a warm and masculine feel. The furniture's all wood in intentionally varying finishes. They're also peppered with touches of quirk, like for instance a rolling pin on a chair's backrest or in others, a clothes hanger. The use of upcycled wood in the chandeliers is also nice.

The restaurant also features an open kitchen where the chef and his sous chefs working on your food are in full view. There's just a counter separating them from the dining area, with no glass partitions whatsoever. Despite this layout, I'm impressed with how smoke and other food smells don't spill over into the dining space. Their exhausts must be really good.

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Warm and masculine interiors.

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Someone must have used the rolling pin to fix a broken chair.

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Anyone seen my coat hanger?

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The restroom's nautical-inspired and very masculine.

The food
With only a few choice dishes, the menu is never overwhelming. Though expectedly dominated by seafood options, there are also a few items that aren't fished out of the water, like chicken, beef tounge, and veggies.

I had a chat with the assistant manager and she said they have a seasonal menu, which changes month to month. Save for the grilled prawns, a dish here ranges from just under Php 300 to upwards of Php 400. Appetizers and side dishes cost less of course.

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Bait's inaugural menu. Let's see how this changes in our succeeding visits.

First up we had raw oysters (Php 57 apiece), which are sourced from Aklan says Chef Joseph, and which go through a desalination process before they even make it to the restaurant. Kwittiegirl, who hails from Malabon where seafood is abundant, can attest that they're fresh.

Since it was our first time we wanted to taste as much as possible, so we shared main courses of tilapia and grilled prawns.

The tilapia (Php 422) was already filleted--much to my liking since I dislike having to deal with fishbone--and was mildly spiced with turmeric and fried. The dish came with a side of cauliflower couscous, which was pure cauliflower that I suppose went into the food processor to achieve that couscous-like bit sizes. It's soaked in what I assume (based on the menu) was Nước chấm, hence the mild acidic taste that went perfectly with the fried seafood crisps (Octopus? I'm not sure.) on top of it. It's a good dish overall.

The other dish we tried was grilled prawns (Php 606) that sat on a bed of white beans and chicken skin. The chicken skin was so thin and crispy, with a flavor that mixed perfectly with the buttery taste of the beans. The prawns were fresh, too, as I can easily pry the shell from the meat. This one's an instant favorite for us.

We also ordered a side of fried okra (Php 95). They were halved and battered, and were served with Bait's own mayonnaise. I'm not a fan of okra because the sliminess turns me off but I managed to take in a few. The batter and mayonnaise were good.

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Fresh oysters from Aklan. I had to restrain myself from ordering another round because I'm not quite used to eating them raw. (Sorry for the bad photos; I only had my phone with me.)

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Grilled prawns on a bed of white beans and chicken skin. Yes, those thin crisps are chicken skin.

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Tilapia with cauliflower couscous.

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Fried okra.

There was no dessert menu yet but we were offered two options: butterscotch and mocha granita (hope I got it right). We got the butterscotch but Chef Joseph Margate soon came out with a complimentary mocha granita (Yea, thank you!); he said he believes we should have two.

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Bait's butterscotch.

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Mocha granita, an icy delight.

The butterscotch was made of a soft and velvety cream base topped with syrup and a dollop of cream. The texture was good and I loved the taste of the burnt caramel. The mocha granita, on the other hand, was a crushed ice concoction with cocoa and condensed milk (I'm not sure what else). Both desserts were served with alfajor-like cookies.

Coffee's also good here. Can't say anything about their cocktails, though, since I can't drink anymore.

Update:
We went back to Bait's in March and tried out a few of their other dishes. We ordered Bait's boquerones (Php 144), mussel chowder (Php 399), and crab salad (Php 345) from their Small Plates menu. The boquerones -- fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar and olive oil and served with Sky Flakes -- was interesting though not to my liking. Kwittiegirl enjoyed it, though. The crab salad, on the other hand, I loved. The interplay of the crab meat, pomelo, and pears was pleasant and refreshing. The chowder, which had apples in it, was underwhelming.

I also ordered their cream-based shrimp pasta that unfortunately I found too salty. It was also disappointing to find too few shrimp in my dish. It didn't help that there was way more Chinese chorizo -- which I don't like -- than shrimp.

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Bait's boquerones. We're feeling some South Spain in here.

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The crab salad, a refreshing delight.

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It's a shrimp pasta and I can hardly find any shrimp.

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The calamansi cheesecake was good.

I don't know why but as with our first visit, we were given a complimentary dessert of calamansi cheesecake. It's good because it's not too sweet. The acidity of the calamansi was just about right although I feel they could go a notch higher with the sourness. Just a bit more and it would be perfect.

Service
The waitstaff were attentive enough, courteous, and not intrusive. Probably a few more nights and they'd be fully warmed up and accustomed to this new environment. Our food didn't take long, though I still need to see how they fare if the place is packed. At least the owner/part-owner, assistant manager, and chef got to mingle a bit with us diners.

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Chef Joseph, thanks for the dessert. I just had to take a picture with him.

Please note, however, that they only accept cash payments at the moment.

***********************
In hindsight
Overall our first experience at Bait's was a good one. I liked the interiors and it's so far, so good with the service. Though a lot of us may find it a bit pricey, the food's good. But then seafood often always costs more in any restaurant. We'll be back for sure, and it's not only because it's just next to our office.

Meanwhile, I was kind of disturbed as to why these people outside were looking at me. I felt uncomfortable. Turns out they were gawking at Anne Curtis.

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Fans.

***********************
Bait's Seafood Kitchen is located at the Ground Floor of Signa Designer Residences at Valero cor. Rufino Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati City. It's just right next to Smart Tower at the Valero Access Road, to be exact.

They're open for lunch daily (yes, even on weekends) from 11am to 3pm, and for dinner from 5pm to 11pm. (Not sure if they're open on weekends, though; will update this soon.)

facebook.com/baitsph

You can also check out my review of its next-door neighbor and sister restaurant Sabao Filipino Soup Bar.

8 comments:

  1. This place looks amazing..the ambience seemes great and the food looks good too. I´ve never tried oysters or okra...I need too! The last dessert, the granita, reminds me of a street dessert we got here is calle Raspado which is also made of shaved ice and is infuse with the flavour you choose it may be strawberry, orange, lemon, grape, etc, and its topped of with condensed milk and sometimes honey. "Raspaderos" usually carry around little car with a huge block of ice and all the works, its a very traditional and popular dessert over here specially to fight the hot weather. Here is a little reference picture: http://www.beinglatino.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Raspado01-photo-by-Tatatache.jpg

    Hugs
    Andy
    theblacklabelblog.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much for this great feature! We hope to see more of you real soon.

    Oh and yes, we are open on weekends as well. Same time on weekdays :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can't help but think maybe there is a little hype here. Wrong. Boy was I surprised. It really is that good and deserving of its rating. These guys at San Francisco restaurants know how to do a meal right and they sets the bar high.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice restaurant. I really love the ambiance and I'm sure the food is yummy too! :)

    ReplyDelete

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