It’s my Bin’s birthday and he chooses The Girl + The Bull as our special lunch venue. On our drive over, we’re discussing the debacle of this morning – that happens on his birthday of all days! – but we decide not to dwell on it; what’s done is done.
This early, I’d give The Girl + The Bull (TG+TB) the award for Best Restaurant Name. It’s an attention getter alright, and so is the restaurant itself, blacks and whites splashed with color and knick knacks in every nook. The design theme seems to illustrate the idiosyncrasies and ideals of owner-slash-couple Thea “The Girl” de Rivera and Gab “The Bull” Bustos: he’s presumably bull-like in ambition, she balances him out. It works.
So does their place, a hothouse of hip and a shrine to all things hipster. The servers, I suspect they may be friends of the couple pressed into service, are all articulate and attentive. They reflect their clientele, who today, talk about their weekend plans in their strong prep school accents, and wear their crop tops with confidence. Case in point: one of the customers is wearing the exact same top as the owner, but neither bats an eye and both work it. My vote goes to the owner, Thea, because she rocks her top and her emerald-hued hair.
Tableware are mismatched clay plates, nice things, and the now ubiquitous empty wine bottle-used-as-water pitcher. The menu states that the Arugula Salad (P295) comes with a slow-poached egg but what arrives is fried. No matter, it properly lubricates the wild green and radishes together with thin slices of apple. A safe, classic dish.
I suggest stirring things up with the Foie Gras Double Down (P950), its brashness is its ultimate strength. Seared foie gras mimics the chicken filet from whence it gets its name. Further layered with cheddar and bacon, there’s a pop of pink peppercorn in there somewhere and a smidgen of sweetness from maple syrup. It’s the KFC Double Down all gussied up.
The Girl + The Bull (have I emphasized enough how much I like this name??!) continue to blaze its own trail. It’s closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and serves its much-clamored for Buttermilk Fried Chicken (P430) only on Fridays and Saturdays. Every table has an order of it and ours is no exception. Comparisons to Kettle are inevitable, and I say the two are truly comparable. The one at TG+TB is infinitely juicier and saltier. Bite down to hear the skin crackle in complaint before revealing the moist meat underneath. The menu descriptions need some reviewing however, as in the arugula salad above, and the so-called accompanying cinnamon sugar beignet with the chicken, which is not a beignet but a brioche French toast. It’s decent and so is the balsamic-maple syrup dipping sauce, but the chicken is the star. Yes, it’s worth the drive over so hurry on over!
The Grass-Fed Beef Tenderloin (P530) speaks to the restaurant’s thrust of supporting local farmers and their products. While the beef itself is somewhat tough, the concept that weaves this dish together is one of clarity and creativity. The blue cheese-brown butter-squid ink emulsion, while eyebrow-raising at first, is seamless in execution. Smoky notes on first taste on tongue, before blue cheese swoops in and lingers. Red cabbage and scorched shiitake proffer exquisite texture as do those give-me-more leek roots that look like garlic cloves clinging to vines. Such imagination!
The Wagyu Flat Iron (P850) above is similar to the preceding beef tenderloin dish, save that this is paler in color and, because of its breed, is much tender. I don’t taste the marrow bone here, perhaps it provides texture, but the plate’s other components make for a pretty picture: salsa verde, pickled red onions, and a most intriguing sauce composed of corn and two mushrooms: enoki and powdered cèpe. My daughter, Boo, so likes the sauce that she impulsively shrieks, “Wait!” as the server attempts to clear the table. Apparently, Boo will “clear” the plate of its remaining sauce first.
There’s some waiting time in between dishes, this is certainly no feed and flee establishment. But it’s pleasant to linger, there’s definitely much to look at, and as I mention earlier, conversations from other tables drift and dissipate.
Just like the buttermilk fried chicken, TG+TB has made a name for itself with its Faux Twix (P160), an interpretation of the chef’s favorite sweet. “Eat this with your hands,” says the server. All I’ll say is that if it wasn’t my Bin’s birthday, I would’ve wrestled him – and Boo – for the very last piece.
If you like bread pudding, as I do, please try the Brioche Bread Pudding (P210). Ingeniously served in a big, deep mug, it’s all kinds of wonderful hot custard on soft bread beneath a crisp, sugary top. Swoon-inducing and inducing one to selfishness.
The Girl + The Bull
346 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque
+63 905 572 2556
11am – 3pm, 6-9pm daily. Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays