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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blackbird Makati Opens at the Nielson Tower

You know what they say, once you go black -- You never go back. In this case, it is all about Blackbird Grill and Bar - a new and exciting dining destination that has made me rethink my idea of how a restaurant or bar should be. I can give you more than a dozen reasons why I love Blackbird. However, I'll leave it up to you to discover those reasons on your own. When you see and experience it, you'll know what I am talking about.  

Located in the historic Nielson Tower,  Blackbird has completely changed the dining and bar scene in Manila. This started out as a vision by Chef Colin Mackay who wanted to transform Nielson Tower into a restaurant (Mackay was also behind the popular Sala and People's Palace). Nielson Tower, for those who are not familiar, served as the control tower and passenger depot of the first International Airport in the Philippines. It was high time that this historic building was put into better use

After hearing all the buzz about Blackbird, I immediately made a reservation.  I wanted to make sure the place would not be too packed yet. You know how it is in Manila. 

We arrived in Blackbird around 5:58 PM.  I was beaming with excitement as I stepped out of the car. Nielson Tower looked like it was ready to share the spotlight with other popular attractions in the city. The last time I was here was for a blogger event when the tower was still a library-- a forgotten library.  Now, Blackbird has spread the wings of this historic tower. 

As soon as we opened the door, my jaw dropped. The lighting. The furniture. The design. It was perfection. All our eyes were instantly drawn to the spiral staircase behind the centerpiece of the restaurant. 

The interiors are sublime. 

The sunlight coming through the windows seemed to have given the restaurant a glow. I conjured images of the Great Gatsby's parties. The restaurant had an air of class and glamor that was necessary in Manila. We need more restaurants like this. 

The outdoor area is perfect if you want a laid-back and casual lunch or dinner. You'll notice that they have retained the Manila Internation Terminal sign to get a glimpse of the restaurant's history.

When you go up the spiral staircase, there's a more private dining area for guests. We actually decided to stay here to unwind the whole night.

They have added elements of aviation to the restaurant too. Before going to the restroom, make sure you check the sign properly. When you see this, that means it's for males. 


For starters, I got some salad with Apple, Pecan, Cos Lettuce and Green Goddess Dressing. The dressing had a bit of spice which made the salad a bit more adventurous since I would always stick to vinaigrette.

A must try and a personal favorite -- Buffalo Mozzarella, Pepperonata, Basil, Rocket with San Daniel Prosciutto.  Our Tita Tessie from Cologne used to make her own version of this for us in their home. She got me hooked since then.

I ordered one of their most popular dishes - Blackbird Fish Pie Salmon, Smoked Trout, Sweet Shrimps, Creamy Leeks, Potato Crust. What I loved about the pie was that it seemed home-cooked. 

The Portobello Mushroom, Asparagus, Fontina, Truffle oil Lasagna. I would have wanted this to be a bit meatier but overall the dish was light and creamy. 

The Blackbird Burger Scamorza, Pickles, Tomato Chili Jam and Fries. 

Like in any restaurant, the dessert is always a good way to test its creativity. This was the Cheesecake, with Macadamia Praline, Banana Brûlée, Dulce de Leche. The cheesecake was not too rich which was complimented by the texture of all the ingredients. Bravo.

Another revelation was the Apple Nougatine Tart, Burnt Butter Ice Cream. 

The Dessert was perfectly matched with legendary Vittoria Coffee (Emil drank this)

My cousin Trisha tried one of their cocktails - Pussy Galore.

I had a glass of Chardonnay to slow down the night.
Before we knew it, it was already 1:00 AM. We could not believe we stayed in this restaurant for more than 7 hours. The beautiful interiors, good food and cozy music made us all want to stay. Something right must have happened. It was the magic of Blackbird.

Blackbird is Located in Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle.
For Reservations, call 828-4888 

Seda Nuvali: Elevating Hotel Living in the South

I have always been a huge fan of Ayala properties and projects.  They have succeeded in creating beautiful buildings that have been seamlessly integrated with the environment. This is the reason why Filipinos love the Ayala brand. Good design and environmental consciousness are part of their thrust.

When Ayala decided to create Seda (hotels), I knew this would be a milestone project for them. Seda, which means Silk in Filipino, invites everyone to experience “a new and fluid hospitality experience representative of the best the Fillipino has to offer". 

A few weeks ago, I saw that Seda's newest property in Nuvali had already opened. Another staycation was calling. Seda Nuvali is part of this pioneer eco-city development in the south. It is centrally located in the heart of this booming business and commercial destination. Seda's opening here is a sign that the south is ready for bigger things to come. They have elevated hotel living to a different level. 

True to its vision, you will see that Seda has brought the best the Filipinos have to offer. As soon as you enter the lobby, you will see a sculptural piece by Ann Pamintuan and chairs by the legendary Kenneth Cobonpue. 

This is a photograph by Jaime Zobel de Ayala perfectly placed behind the reception desk.