A steak-loving Scot with Pinoy blood

Danee Samonte - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “I woke up one morning with a strange craving for kare-kare and adobo,” confessed Colin Kerr after his bout with life threatening dengue. Colin is of full Scottish heritage but suddenly became part-Filipino after he had a massive transfusion of Filipino blood at St. Luke’s Hospital a year ago.

Colin and I became friends over a decade ago when he was cruise director of the mega ship SS Leo where I was producing Ramon “RJ” Jacinto’s concert Rock the Boat. Upon introduction, I discovered we had a common love for juicy steak and spent one whole morning discussing our various steak experiences while heading back to Hong Kong from a stormy day on the China Sea. When we said our goodbyes at the end of the cruise, we made a promise that the next time we met, we would have a good steak dinner whichever city it was. From that time on, I lost contact with Colin because he moved to Star Cruises, sister company of Norwegian cruise lines in the US. Five years ago, he suddenly appeared in Manila to head the entertainment department of Resorts World Manila. Naturally, we reminisced about the fun we had on that cruise and made plans for our steak dinners. From then on, we had countless steak dinners in Manila, Hong Kong or Singapore whenever there was an opportunity. Just a year ago, Colin got promoted to vice president and got super busy which meant I saw less of him. His new designation made him an ambulant VP visiting cities around the world on a weekly basis.

Over a month ago, Colin lamented that his travel wings got clipped and won’t be doing any traveling for at least a month because his passport needed to be renewed and sent to the UK. I took this opportunity to drag him to one of Metro Manila’s prime steak houses at the Marriott Hotel called CRU. I had long planned to visit the restaurant as I’ve read so many good reviews about it including one of the country’s good eating bible, The Philippines Best Restaurants. The red-colored Philippine guidebook reminds me of Guide Michelin, the world’s foremost guide to good restaurants and hotels. 

Nestled at the end of Marriott’s lobby is the plushly decorated CRU steakhouse. I got a bit intimidated by its decor as I entered because it had “High End Fine Dining” written all over and I was garbed in denims and crocs. Colin came with the right shirt and tie attire. We wasted no time and ordered from a two-page set meal menu. We optioned for the Set “A” three-course menu that featured 250 grams of grilled US Prime Rib Angus Rib Eye. 

The starter was baby Spinach salad with orange wedges, crumbled blue cheese and walnuts slightly drizzled with a light mustard dressing ensconced in a parmesan crust. We polished the delectable salad in a matter of seconds. As we wiped our mouths, the chef pulled out our freshly cooked steaks from the glass encased grill at the center of the restaurant visible to all the diners and had these delivered to our table.

The steak came with potato onion gratin and grilled portobello mushroom as a side dish. The steak, which was slightly marbled with fat, was grilled to our specifications and surprisingly exceeded our expectations. It was juicy, tender and most importantly, tasty. Colin tried the peppercorn sauce that came with it and I had mine slightly dabbed with A1 steak sauce but ditched the steak sauce after a few bites because it didn’t need any enhancement. The gratin was a delightful garnish but the grilled portobello mushroom was a disappointment. We both agreed that the grilled mushrooms didn’t taste good when marinated in sugar. The meal was capped with New York style cheesecake with a dab of lemon ice cream. 

After sipping our steaming hot lattes, Colin approached the staff and commended them for their impeccable service. He mentioned to them that most Pinoys he has worked with in his two-decade career on cruise ships are hardworking and service-oriented with a cheerful attitude that is why he loves them and feels a close affinity with them. I am a living witness to Colin’s advocacy to hire Pinoys not only for the Star Cruises ships but also for Resorts World Manila’s Bar 360. One of his biggest claims to fame is the female group Eurasia whom he brought to popularity not only in the Asian region but even in London. As we walked out of CRU, he intimated that he plans to live in the Philippines and had his dear mom withdraw her lifetime savings to purchase a condo unit for him in Makati. Naughty!

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