Friday night and the place was packed. Actor Christopher “Boyet” de Leon was having a drink with one of the owners by the restaurant’s bar. In a separate section was love guru Baby Cruz with family. A head-turner who looked very much like Plinky Recto stretched her long legs sideways, leaning against a wall.
Later in the evening, the always smiling news anchor Vicky Morales appeared with husband and siblings in tow.
As I posted photos on Instagram (@margauxsalcedo), I found out that Bella Yuchengco was also there the night before. And ANC’s Coco Alcuaz made it clear he wished they were open on Sundays.
The restaurant is One Way, located in what would otherwise be an inconspicuous building in Legazpi Village, at the end of the one-way street Salcedo (corner of Benavidez Street). The white linen and silver give the appearance of a fine dining restaurant but the tiles and striped walls shout bistro.
The menu gives the same dual impression. On the one hand are pizzas and pastas; on the other hand are lamb and steak. It sets out to be the best of both worlds. Photos on the wall of the restaurant, which seem to say that the resto motto is “good food, great friends,” make the place even more inviting.
The chef, Harold Nilooban, seems to be able to cook anything even as he emphasizes that his influences are Scandinavian. “What does that mean?” I ask.
“It’s all about preparation,” he explains.
The process is evident in the restaurant’s meat entrees. The duck confit, with duck flown in from France, is cooked for eight hours. Its duck confit is not your usual, i.e. there is no crispy skin-tender meat contrast. Instead, the chef serves it with a lot of sauce, making it hearty instead
of haute-y dish.
Meats are the restaurant’s strength. The lamb is a must-try with just the right touch of gaminess enhanced by the chef’s sauce. The beef salpicado, cooked in Madeira wine, is tasty and tender.
The steak, while no Peter Luger, can certainly compete with Manila’s five-star bests— for less than P2,000. They have five kinds: Madagascar Pepper, Provencal, Dianne, Scoth Fillet Ribeye, plus a chef’s special. These are simple yet “straightforward,” easy-on-the-jaw yet juicy and delish.
The burgers are also pleasant. The blue cheese of the Roquefort burger will drive your blues away. And the classic American burger will make you sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” That the bun is sourdough is a plus, making you believe you are eating healthy. Anything to justify burger gluttony, right?
But if you must sin with the sourdough, stick to burgers. The pizzas, also made of sourdough, are not worth the deception. (Save the indulgence for pizzas in the next village, Salcedo. There’s a small pizzeria called Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza. They make their own burrata using carabao milk.)
Other items are hit and miss. On a girl’s way out on my second visit, she sang to someone who was clearly an owner, “The seafood cioppino is soooo good!” Entranced by her lyrics, I tried it and wallowed in cioppino regret. The girl missed a note: It was just so-so.
If you must start with soup, have the wild mushroom instead. They don’t scrimp on the mushrooms. Or skip soup and have escargot, whose light garlicky sauce hits the right classical notes.
Try not to mind the dentist-chair pipe music of “All at Once” and “You’re My Everything.” The playlist may carbon-date the owners but the throwback is also to great food as we remember it when the hits were playing over 96.3 and 99.5 RT.
One Way is at 200 Concorde Bldg., Benavidez cor. Salcedo Sts., Legazpi Village; tel. 8698958. Visit margauxlicious.com; @margauxsalcedo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram