F And B World : September 2010
10 | SEPTEMBER 2010 www.hip.ph ELBERT'S CHEESESTEAK G/F Power Plant Mall Rockwell Center, Makati City Tel. (02) 514-2494 SANDWICHES THAT MATTER AT ELBERT'S CHEESESTEAK Elbert Cuenca, the man behind one of the busiest counters in Power Plant Mall's food emporium, has successfully made cheesesteak sandwiches a local favorite. Cuenca reveals that it was Alex Lichaytoo of Bacchus International (an importer and distributor of gourmet food products and premium wines) who prompted him to create this concept. Cuenca's upscale restaurant, Elbert's Steak Room, would have so many meat trimmings left over from the U.S. prime steaks it served. And so Elbert's Cheesesteak Sandwiches was eventually born out of these leftovers (albeit of prime quality) from the Steak Room. After relentless research and testing with the help of his brother Adrian, Cuenca came up with the perfect sandwich formula---prime beef, perfectly sautéed onions, the right bread (which is called a hoagie), and cheese with perfect meltability. As luck would have it, the right spot opened American Cheesesteak with 100% USDA choice grade beef and provolone cheese Elbert's Burger with double 100% U.S. beef patties on a rustic roll AN APPETITE FOR AMERICA Forget the calorie counting and indulge in popular American diner-style food that is as filling as it is appetizing. MR. JONES Greenbelt 5 Ayala Center, Makati City Tel. (02) 501-3682 NOTHING ORDINARY ABOUT MR. JONES It all started with a popula r chart-topping song, Mr. Jone s. Just like the ma ny ba nds who have covered the song through the yea rs, Raintree Restau rants got inspired to come up with its newest concept, an American contemporary diner aptly called M r. Jo n e s. Homegrow n talent Chef Kalel Chan developed the retro yet upscale menu. He trained in a nd now manages the group's other restau rants, na mely M Café, Chelsea, a nd Momo!. Greenbelt 5, a mall built for luxury brands and deserving only of stellar food establishments, is Mr. Jones' home where it opened in November 2009. It didn't take long for people to take notice, with the queue to dine there getting longer a nd longer. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, booth seating, and waiters dressed in cheerful diner-style 1960's attire, this establishment rocks as far as setting the tone is concerned. What about the food? Its Blue Plate specials seem to keep the kitchen very busy. Exhibit A: Wicked Tr uff le Mac n' Cheese is baked with three types of macaroni, four cheeses, Ca nadian- Style double smoked bacon, baby Portobello mushrooms a nd green peas, drizzled with truffle oil (words not my own but that of the menu). What you get is really what you read. And who would have thought such an interplay of flavors would actually work? Exhibit B: Homemade Char-grilled 100% U.S. Beef "Superma n" Burger is made with 100% cha r-grilled U.S. beef patty, American cheddar cheese, balsamic sweet onions, a nd a sesame seed bun with a pickled pepper. This burger, at a hefty 350 grams, may at a glance seem almost impossible to finish. But the beef speaks for itself a nd can have a very hungry diner satisfied in no time. Chef Cha n adds whimsical touches like mini-pails of crispy French fries salted just right. What about the drinks? Mr. Jones' milkshakes a re to die for, with a proper blend of crea my goodness. It seems that Chef Cha n's for mula of upgrading and adding twists to traditional diner food, using only premiu m ingredients, has resulted in something much more --- a family-friendly place that raises the ante on America n comfort food. ---Rebecca Disini-Gomez PHOTOS BY MONICA BARRETTO The "Superman" Burger Wicked Truffled Mac n' Cheese up at Power Plant, and Cuenca found himself working with noted restaurant architect Noel Bernardo to create an electric 1980s diner feel for his counter- style restaurant. And it worked. On the first day of operations early in 2009, Cuenca served more than 300 cheesesteak sandwiches. And they're still as busy now as they were then. At the beginning, his menu was simple---a cheesesteak sandwich with a choice between regular American or the more premium yet more authentic provolone cheese. And as all success stories go, customers started clamoring for more of Cuenca's renditions of classic American sandwiches, and soon the Meatball Hero, Burgers, The Tuna Melt, and the Premium Cheesesteak were born and eagerly welcomed. For a sweet ending, soft-serve vanilla ice cream made with 100% fresh milk is on hand. Elbert has declined many an offer to franchise or expand beyond his small mall counter, as he knows that what makes his sandwiches so special is the extra care and attention given to their creation . ---Rebecca Disini-Gomez For more American-style diner fare, grab the full issue of F&B World at your favorite newsstand.