Pigging out and loving it

IN BETWEEN DEADLINES - Cheryl Tiu (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2014 - 12:00am

An invitation to check out The Black Pig came even before it officially opened to the public last Dec. 16, 2013. But — I’ll be honest — because the charcuterie, bar and restaurant was located all the way in Alabang, it set me back two months later. I (temporarily) contented myself by drooling over the social media posts of fellow foodies Cyrene dela Rosa, Jin Perez and Alicia Sy, and vowed that I would make the trek as soon as my schedule permitted.

Thank goodness it finally happened last Saturday. My friend and I had planned to meet for lunch, and I suggested making the trip to Alabang. I was half expecting a “But it’s so far,” response, but instead he said it was perfect as he would be coming from Tagaytay that morning, so it was already a sign that The Black Pig was finally meant to be. 

An Urban Loft in Alabang

Based on the photos I had seen, I had expected it to be a freestanding restaurant on the ground floor, but it was actually on the second floor and inside a building — of the new Commercenter at Filinvest. I fell in love with the interiors immediately. Clay tiles, mango wood tabletops, leather upholstered chairs, cast-iron bars and halogen lamps gave it the feel of an urban city loft. The bar is definitely the focal point. Apart from housing Holgate craft beers on tap, if you stand away from the table’s yellow geometric patterns and long-legged stools, and then look close enough, you will see the (massive) silhouette of a pig etched on the wall. “We wanted it to be a place that’s neither too feminine nor too masculine — where both males and females would be comfortable,” explains co-owner Berna Garriz. In fact at the mention of the interior designer’s name, Hisako “Chako” Hirayama of Design HQ, my friend instantly Googled her on his phone and made a mental note of consulting with her should he decide to renovate his place.

European Techniques and Philippine Produce

So why the Black Pig? It’s a tribute to the owners’ (Anton and Berna Garriz, and Steve and Tricia Macdonald) fervent devotion to pork, specifically the Spanish Iberico and the revered local lechon. “It’s the best kind of ham out there,” Berna says simply. At the helm of the kitchen is chef Carlos Garcia, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, most recently as head development chef for 10 years at London’s Gauthier Soho (1 Michelin star). Previously, he also worked in London’s Restaurant Rousillon (1 Michelin star), sister establishment Priory Bay Hotel in the Isle of Wight, and at Madrid’s Restaurante de Vinis (1 Michelin star). At The Black Pig, Chef Carlos wields European techniques with the freshest local ingredients available to him, like using kangkong or alugbati to create a parmesan-stuffed tortellini dish, or turning our local lime, the calamansi, into a crème brulee, served with sorbet and black pepper. I thought it was interesting that I didn’t find any truffle this or that on the menu — not that I have anything against truffle, but sometimes it’s used to “fancify” (a.k.a. increase the appeal of) a dish. Rather, it allowed the freshness of the readily available local produce to offer its own flavors.

This has made The Black Pig a popular dining destination in Alabang. In fact, that Saturday, I was surprised that I knew everyone who walked into the restaurant. It was the Chinese New Year long weekend too, so I had imagined most people would be out of town. One mark of a good restaurant is when people are willing to travel the distance to eat there, and well, I didn’t even have to bother to search the hashtag #theblackpigmanila on Instagram to see who had visited — I saw with my own eyes.

* * *

For Valentine’s Day, The Black Pig will have a five-course menu priced at P1,900++. There will be no à la carte that day.

The Black Pig is located at 2nd Floor, Commercenter. Alabang, Commerce Ave. cor East Asia Drive, Filinvest, Corporate City, Muntinlupa City. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 3 p.m.; 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar is open 3 p.m. onwards. For reservations, call 808-1406, 0917-8462674 or visit www.facebook.com/theblackpigmanila or www.instagram.com/theblackpigmanila.

You can reach me at inbetweendeadlines@gmail.com, www.cheryltiu.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cherytliu or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/chertiu. Photos by Cheryl Tiu

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