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Putting comfort food on the map |

Food and Leisure

Putting comfort food on the map

JACKIE O’ FLASH - Bea Ledesma - The Philippine Star

On the  fifth floor of Shangri-La Plaza Mall’s new East Wing, a new restaurant concept is attempting to redefine our notions of comfort food.

At Kettle, a sizable steak topped with a bone split in half to reveal a serious amount of marrow (P2,589) is one of the menu highlights. Comfort food, for most of us weaned on hearty stews and healthy helpings of rice, means tasty, rustic food. No pretensions. No fussy plating.

Kettle delivers on that — but adds a decadent touch. Like their marrow with steak, they’re not afraid of fat or — God help your arteries — frying.

A bowl of pork and potato strips (P339), under their appetizers, clearly reveals the restaurant’s aspirations: Here is a restaurant not afraid to cater to your secret desires.

Potato strips fried to a crisp are accompanied by strips of deep-fried pork, with bits of fried basil tossed in, designed to be dipped in a red pepper aioli sauce. It’s the kind of dish that quickly disappears without your realizing it. The plate is empty, your fingers are greasy, and you’re wondering how it all went down your gullet without a thought.

There’s the half-pounder Angus burger (P419), topped with smoked white cheddar, caramelized onions and horseradish dressing, and the Kettle Grilled Four Cheese (P329), gruyere, fontina, cheddar, parmesan with sweet tomato jam and fried basil on an English loaf. The four-cheese was buttery — as all cheese sandwiches ought to be — though the fried basil was indistinguishable from the rest.

Aside from meat-centric dishes, consider the BBQ Angus short ribs (P469), there are some lighter pasta dishes, like truffle gorgonzola (P289).

A must on the menu is an ode to southern food — which, after my first trip to the South earlier this year, might be, in my humble estimation, home to some of the best (fried, fatty) food on earth. Kettle’s buttermilk fried chicken consists of boneless chicken, brined overnight in buttermilk, breaded and fried. Meant to be topped with gravy and Cajun honey and accompanied by cornbread, it’s designed to hit that sweet spot between salty and sweet. Though a tad over-seasoned on my first tasting (simply inform the chef you like yours a trifle less seasoned), it managed to convey the best of what comfort food offers: it’s both heartening and satisfying.

That’s the thing about comfort food. It’s not about breaking new ground or flouting rules, but sending out food that leaves you happy and content.

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