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NYC’s brunch culture comes to Manila |

Food and Leisure

NYC’s brunch culture comes to Manila

CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau - The Philippine Star

After boozy Friday and Saturday nights, there’s no better hangover cure than brunch. Perhaps this is the reason that the late-breaking meal — already a New York City institution — has exploded again in the Big Apple, in line with the rise of hipster culture and late weeknights out.

A group of Filipino friends, noticing the trend, wanted to bring it to Manila. The barkada (which includes Mike Carandang, Pen Roque, Francis Tolentino, Cristalle Belo, Francis Libiran and Marilen Roa-Nuñez) liked hanging out and drinking at the apartment of Francis Flores, Jollibee Global Brand’s chief marketing officer, and wanted to incorporate the homey atmosphere they loved in Flores’ apartment.

And so last August, Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café in Bonifacio Global City was born.

“The concept is a brunch place with three floors, like an apartment,” explains Rambo Nuñez, Unit 27’s chief marketing officer. “When you come here, it’s like home, where you can have brunch all day.”

The first floor is a sunny dining space where office workers, families and friends can sit down and have brunch. The second floor is a library area outfitted with a turntable where barkadas can hang out, order craft beers and listen to records. The third floor is a bar with a VIP room that you can rent for parties, meetings or events: in all Unit 27 can accommodate about 170 people, while the VIP room seats 30.

Since downstairs is more active during the day and upstairs comes alive at night, there’s a dumbwaiter to shuttle food to all levels of the restaurant.

Since we’re talking brunch, how does Unit 27 stack up to its New York predecessors? Really well, in fact. The menu focuses on well-cooked comfort food — large portions of it — that you can pair with healthy juices, coffee or tea to take the edge off that bender you were on Friday night.

Trying to be healthy, I ordered the herb-crusted Norwegian salmon but, let’s face it: brunch isn’t brunch unless it involves eggs and, for most Pinoys, generous slabs of meat. I was a goner once I tasted the Jack Daniel’s Aussie Bacon & Egg — double-smoked, thick-cut streaky bacon glazed with Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce. It’s served with wild rice to temper any pangs of guilt you might feel.

Other most-requested brunch items include the Bagnet Breakfast, Pinoy Steak & Egg, the Longganisa Trio & Egg and the Anti-hangover Bacon & Eggs Rosti, which does exactly what it promises.

Since Flores and Tolentino are both chefs, the menu isn’t limited to brunch but includes specials you can order for lunch and dinner, like oven-roasted chicken, US Angus rib eye, soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta (try the Truffled Mushroom and Shrimp Chili Aglio Olio). After work hours the bar-chow menu kicks in, with items like House Party nachos, adobo salpicao and Jack Daniel’s Way of Bacon.

“We partner with different brands like Jack Daniel’s and Axe,” notes Nuñez.

Designed by Wilmer Lopez of Space Encounters and featuring art installations by Leeroy New on the third floor, Unit 27 is full of Instagrammable nooks and crannies and indeed, “a lot of people just want to come here and take pictures,” Nuñez says.

With the apartment bar + café as the flagship, the owners plan to open more establishments with the homey Unit 27 concept, like a bed and breakfast in Palawan. “We want a global Pinoy identity, to put up something global that other countries would want to franchise, like Singapore is already interested in our concept,” Nuñez says. “It’s Filipino pride. We make our own brand and make it world-class.”





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Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café, located at Icon Plaza, 26th Street corner 7 th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, is open every day from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays, and to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 0998-556-9125 for more information and reservations.

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