Located on Kalayaan Avenue in Makati, the two-year-old Zavoy is a cozy gem of a steakhouse. British owner Jonathan Thorp says he is satisfied with the way things are going for his fine-dining restaurant. He has regular patrons who keep the kitchen busy all the time, even if it’s open only at dinner time.
“We also open at lunch whenever there are special events going on,” says Thorp, who’s been in the food business for some time, running a sports bar (Howzat), a resto-bar on Aguirre Avenue in BF Homes (Mulligan’s Irish Gastro Pub), and a hotel food outlet (Tune Hotel).
The two-story Zavoy used to be an exclusive art gallery before Thorp turned it into a restaurant. “This was my art gallery before. I acquired the building seven years ago and renovated it. Then I met a chef who helped me set up the restaurant,” he recalls.
The original idea was simple—for Thorp to have a place where he could eat and drink and entertain his clients.
“It’s not really meant for making money,” he says. “That’s the difference here. People are confused with me as we are not always packed, but I have lots of friends who bring in international businessmen and they come here to meet and have fun.”
Since it became a full-blown restaurant, Zavoy has played host to innumerable private functions. Thorp’s restaurant has carved out a niche among expats, celebrities, consuls, diplomats and politicians who flock to it as a daily retreat. President Aquino and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, both steak lovers, are said to eat here a lot.
Striking Chinese sculptures, antique jars and chests, ornate woodwork and charming paintings greet visitors as they enter Zavoy. The entire dining area, in fact, is a gallery of masterpieces by respected artists such as BenCab and Manansala, among others.
While the food is the highlight of the dining area, the place itself exudes a relaxing, even romantic atmosphere. Most of the time, it’s a venue for events, private parties and special meetings. It has a private function room on the ground floor that can accommodate 16 persons.
Guests may also opt to reserve the second floor, which has a bigger floor area with a wine bar, snooker and more art pieces.
Zavoy prides itself with its menu of European comfort food, prepared by executive chef Harold Nilooban.
Menu mainstays include the French Onion soup and Wild Mushroom soup, but some new dishes have also become popular, such as Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad, Mussels in White Wine Sauce, and Escargot Bourguignon.
Topping the appetizer list is a luscious dish named by Thorp after his executive chef—Chef Harold’s Paté Platter. It consists of chicken liver paté and lean pork meat with homemade
cranberry cooked in wine and orange. The meat is marinated overnight with cognac and slowly baked like a meat loaf. It’s served with black bread and crostini.
The steaks and meats are, of course, the pieces de resistance. From the certified Angus rib-eye steak to the tenderloin and strip loin, the meats do not disappoint, with wonderful marbling and juiciness, plus flawless grill marks. If you like them rare, Zavoy is the place to enjoy such meats.
The specialty steaks come with a choice of five sauces—peppercorn, blue cheese, red wine, mushroom and béarnaise. But the meat is delicious enough to eat on its own.
All grilled dishes are also served with grilled tomato.
Another must-try on the steak list is a favorite of many politicians—the Tounido Rossini, fork-tender steak topped with pan-fried duck foie gras and smeared with black truffle sauce. The juicy steak and the silky, buttery foie gras make for a winning combination.
The duck leg confit, slow-baked for four hours, has real depth and a more pronounced flavor, while the lamb shank on a bed of risotto is a gastronomic indulgence.
“We create European or Mediterranean dishes that are perfectly paired with fine wines,” says Thorp. “For us, food and wine is a package. Wine makes every steak meal more memorable.”
Zavoy has a substantial list of wines, mostly from the New World, including New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Chile. France is also well-represented. Most of the wine bottles are carefully stored in chillers at the right temperature, and available for purchase.
For a perfect meal-ender, Thorp suggests the crepe flambé prepared at one’s tableside. You can choose between peach melba, mango and banana.
Zavoy Steakhouse and Grill is at 8479 Kalayaan Ave. cor. Fermina St., Makati City. It’s open from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight.