Steak and unlimited fries to motivate you through the week
Patrick Cuartero—proprietor of the distinctly raucous Makati speakeasy, ABV—was never too shy to mention his inspirations.
The former New Yorker easily shares with guests that the hidden bar in Bel-Air Village is his answer to East Village speakeasy Please Don't Tell. As the latter is fronted by Crif Dogs along St. Mark's Place, ABV is concealed behind wiener purveyor Lazy Bastard at Jupiter Street. So, yes, it is easy to make the parallel comparison and accuse the easygoing Cuartero of blatant imitation.
But ABV (or Lazy Bastard, for that matter) is no cheap copy. The covert Makati escape, with its cascading array of hard-to-find spirits enclosed in a glass armoire, is number 14 on Asia's Best Bars list. Their mixologists are some of the top ones in the country and they have the awards and accolades to prove it. So, there really is no shame in this game—a game ABV is obviously winning.
Suffice to say, when they announced another inspired addition to their repertoire, expectations are high. They have always served Steak Frites—ABV has their own food menu and they're not completely reliant on Lazy Bastard's—but they decided to treat early weekday guests to a bang-for-your-buck bistro staple. In the spirit of Hong Kong's Le Vache!, which, in turn, was also inspired by the Parisian Ralais de Venise, ABV's Fête du Bœuf is all about serving one simple bistro dish: Steak Frites. However, as in the bistros that inspired it, the meal includes warm baguette and butter; a green salad; and unlimited frites. That's French fries from the same expert fryer that churns out Lazy Bastard's winning onions rings and tater tots. So, yes, you would want copious amounts of the stuff.
Bread and butter
The Dessert Cart
The steak itself is serious meat: 10 ounces of U.S. choice Angus rib eye. Boneless, charcoal-grilled, and if you're like us, cooked until medium-rare. It is served with compound butter which is surely one of the better ones out there, but you don't really need it. The steak is seasoned perfectly and that grilling over charcoal gives the meat an alluring smokiness you wouldn't want to mask with any condiment. We suggest you dunk your frites in the bearnaise, though. There's no point in letting perfectly good sauce go to waste.
Cocktails, of course, are a highly recommended accompaniment to your meal. Something potent, like a negroni or a sazerac, would hold up perfectly to the juicy meat. It doesn't come with the Fête du Bœuf but don't be cheap, it's a must at ABV. While you're at it, pick a sweet treat from the dessert tray—there are some French and New Orleans-inspired selections to choose from. We were particularly fond of the chocolate truffle cake and the profiteroles (cream puffs drizzled with warm chocolate) come highly recommended by Cuartero.
While ABV usually attracts an after-dinner crowd, their Fête du Bœuf does entice you to come earlier, have a civilized meal, and turn that work day into a snazzy evening out in the town.
ABV is at Basement Floor, 22 Jupiter Street corner Galaxy Street, Bel-Air, Makati City.