After Lolo Dad’s—the once well-loved fine dining restaurant along a discreet corner of Manila—closed in 2014, Chef Ariel Manuel took two years to fine tune the next phase of his life. “I just wanted to put up something simple,” he says with a shrug. “Poblacion is a booming area. When I was offered this space, I thought ‘how can I say no?’”His idea percolated into triplets, a trio of establishments located at the Six Axis Building in Poblacion: Bistro Manuel, Taperia Poblacion, and The Sippery. The latter two, located right across each other, are home to Callos, Tapas, and Pintxos, which all go well with their house Sangria and curated wine selection. But Chef Manuel’s interpretation doesn’t make shortcuts; the Gambas, for example, are cooked in olive oil and garlic instead of being doused in liquid seasoning. Straightforward with no pretensions is what this culinary stalwart lives by. Take the Taperia’s specialty, the Lechon Pugon. “The flavor renders the fat because once you cook it in an oven, the belly part becomes so tender yet crispy,” he explains.This convivial, uncomplicated mentality translates to how the three restaurants are laid out. They are all meant to be free-and-easy, where guests can easily transition from one place to another. You can also order off of the three menus, and they can be served to you in whichever of the three establishments you may be. Whether at the ground floor with Taperia and Sippery, or up on the second floor at the 80-seater Bistro Manuel.Greeting you as you enter the third restaurant is its large open kitchen, which still has some physical elements from Lolo Dad’s. The space was designed with old Manila in mind, with Narra and old panels repurposed from the chef’s gastronomic kingdom. He wanted to preserve a part of his Pasay home here in Poblacion.The menu at the Bistro recalls signature dishes from Lolo Dad’s and playing around with the chef’s specialties: everything from oysters and duck liver and foie gras to rock glam, seabass, and duck confit. “I can’t get away from that image, so I’ll just repaint them,” he says. “I’m trying to keep it simple where people can afford and enjoy fine food.”Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Special thanks to Nana Nadal
BISTRO MANUEL, TAPERIA POBLACION, AND THE SIPPERY, ARE ALL FOUND WITHIN THE SIX AXIS CENTER IN 4347 B. VALDEZ ST. BARANGAY POBLACION, MAKATI CITY.