MANILA -- It's hard to believe that Common Table is already two years old. A favorite of yuppies and expats who live and work in Makati, it is relatively unknown outside of Salcedo Village
Located in an alcove right beside Fraser Place on Valero, it’s easy to miss. But those who pass this by are truly missing an uncommon restaurant.
The chef in residence is Ian Padilla, whose French restaurant, La Girolle, was closed several years ago. To this day, Padilla still gets calls for Valentine's Day reservations.
Common Table is much more relaxed compared to the fine dining ambiance of La Girolle. The interiors are warm filled with knick-knacks. A vertical mural of friends at a dining table dominates one side of the bar that seem to invite guests to
Padilla describes Common Table as a gastropub. Taking a peek at the drinks menu, one can see that it takes the pub part seriously. Even the mocktails, like the Holiday Shirley and the Calamansi and Mint, are cool and refreshing.
For those looking for an extra kick, Common Table’s alcoholic cocktails like the Salcedo Sunset, the Jammy Doughnut, and the beer-based Michelada are ideal to sip after a long day.
Padilla’s cooking puts the gastro in the gastropub. “Most of our regulars are from the Central Business District who are here for early dinner and happy hour. We developed our menus based on happy hour meaning our food has to be fast, it has to be quick, it has to be filling, and it has to be affordable,” Padilla explained.
“We feature an eclectic menu. What we mean by eclectic is that it’s really based on everyone’s travels and passion. We travel and we bring back whatever we think our guests will like.”
The menu is a mix of Filipino favorites and some dishes that cater to an international clientele. Padilla takes comfort food and levels them up with French techniques and premium ingredients.
An old favorite on the menu is the Common Table Pork Sisig, unapologetic to purists, with the inclusion of egg and Kewpie mayo, which temper the heat from the spicy chili garlic.
Padilla recently unveiled two Korean dishes given the steady influx of Korean guests. The first one is the Common Table Samgyupsal Gui with tender pork strips in homemade kimchi topped with parsley and nori. The dish wouldn’t work without the kimchi which was nicely spicy and sour, great with a cup (or two) of rice.
Common Table’s Buttermilk Chicken was re-imagined to make Padilla’s version of Dakgangjeong or Korean fried chicken, whiuch was plated like a Jackson Pollock painting. Padilla takes a buttermilk-marinated leg and thigh, then adds kimchi juice for the chicken to absorb some heat. This is twice-fried for good measure to get that chicken golden brown and delicious.
From his French training, Padilla seems to have mastered the art of immersion vacuum cooking using sous-vide using it in many of his dishes to get consistent, juicy, tender, and flavorful bites of meat.
For Common Table’s Crispy Skinned Lechon, Padilla sous-vides pork belly then deep-fries it. The result is juicy pork topped with crispy crackling skin. Besides the traditional sides of atchara and vinegar, this dish comes with honey ketchup and truffle mayo too.
Padilla uses his sous-vide mastery to level up his beef dishes, using different cuts of beef for different dishes.
Common Table’s Wagyu Beef Cubes looks like a simple dish. Having buttery-soft bite-sized pieces of wagyu with just a couple of cherry tomatoes makes the meat’s flavor and texture really stand out.
For the Uncommon Yakitori, sous-vide cooked bite-sized beef belly end cuts are grilled and skewered. There’s a minimal, but pleasant, resistance to the bite. Overall, this is still a tender piece of meat.
In contrast, beef belly mid cuts are trimmed, seasoned, cooked sous-vide for 48 hours, and seared again for the Pepper Steak and Frites. These fatty cuts are distinctly more melt-in-your-mouth than the ones used in the skewers. The drippings from the fat are used in the steak’s mushroom pepper sauce.
End with a couple of Common Table’s cast-iron skillet desserts with their own twist. The skillet cookie’s twist is using a macadamia and white chocolate base dough. For the other desert, Cervesa Negra is added into Warm Truffle Chocolate Fondant.
Salcedo Village will definitely have this gastropub from some time as management had just signed on for another year at its current location. However, the team is looking around for locations to set up two more branches.
Wherever that will be, Padilla’s Common Table is sure to be set with fast, quick, filling, and affordable food and drink.
Common Table is located at 162 Valero St., Salcedo Village in front of Fraser Place.