In racing vocabulary, the term “pole position” refers to the leading position on the starting grid, a spot awarded to the fastest racer during qualifying rounds. Similarly, in the restaurant world, there are certain (ostensible) qualifications that need to be met in order for it to succeed. Velocity Bar is one of those places in pole position.
Stepping foot into Velocity Sports and Entertainment Bar ignites words in my mind like ‘modern contemporary’ and ‘indulgent.’ The place is big (200 pax capacity); luxurious (booth seats, bar seats, tables, couches – a choose your own seating adventure of epic proportions with lighting to match); enviably equipped (eight – yes, eight – LCDs ranging in screen size from 32-inches, 50-inches, and 82-inches with topnotch audio). This is a bar for the man’s man as well as the swinging singles and the happily coupled. Velocity makes all those other sports bars look tawdry, those ones with jersey shirts tacked on the walls and their lone LCD with lousy sound.
Then again, this is the Marriott Hotel, sports fan.
The Velocity Bar is a hybrid of sorts. It combines the turbo verve of a sports bar with wine-and-dine. So, from a slammin’, high energy place where people converge to watch Pacquiao’s latest fight (and the Super Bowl next week) to a casual, come as you are hangout, there’s plenty for everybody. From the aforementioned choice of seating arrangements of convivial bar area and theater set-up, there are also the more intimate get-togethers with tables and couches.
By the bar, there’s a kickin’ set-up of bottles and drinks highlighted by an impressive beer-on-tap system designed in Europe (mercy me, I can’t remember if it was Italy or some other country). Bar supervisor, Mel, tells me that they’re really proud of Velocity’s signature drinks. “They’re concocted using Marriott recipes. Great stuff!” He enthuses. Though it’s difficult for my friends and I (light drinkers all) to tear away from the traditional margaritas and iced teas, we find ourselves unable to stop stealing sips of the Point Spread (tequila base with lime), Wise Guy (Kahlua base with JÃ¤germeister), and the Rail Runner (tequila, cola, lime bitters, salt). Our favorite, the Free Kick, is a swift, sweet kick to get our engines revving: gin swirled with mint and mashed strawberries (below).
While “food” and “bar” aren’t mutually exclusive (they have no reason to be, I think), Velocity Bar serves up good grub. We nibble… no, we wolf down plates of chicken satay (P520), sticky fried chicken wings (P350), and Szechuan salt n Pepper Squid (their version of calamari, hence strips not rings; P430). Velocity sous chef, Christopher Balane explains that at the Marriott, “… we let the food speak for itself. It’s very straightforward plating.”
The bar is known for their riff on the clubhouse sandwich dubbed the Triple Velocity Club (P520), but we don’t try that tonight. Instead, we steer toward the meats as our main. A striploin sandwich encased in an unfortunately unwieldy ciabatta (the only drag in an otherwise decent sandwich called the Grain-Fed Black Angus [P780]) is anointed with a spicy tomato chutney and red onion jam. Leaves of arugula serve to kickstart the palate.
If you consider yourself a bÃ¼rgermeister as someone in my party does, there’s no question about ordering the Velocity Burger (P680). Even Chef Christopher is hard pressed to say just how much the patty weighs but it’s hefty and provides torque on a fork. It’s the blue cheese that does it I think, its inherent moistness further lubricating the juicy patty. Add-ins include bacon, mixed baby leaves, mustard aioli, fries, and my friends and I have got a roll-eyes-in-back-of-head kind of deliciousness going.
I’m not a bar person; never have been and chances are good I probably never will be. But I’m totally at home at Velocity Bar. That’s because while I’m not a bar person, I’m never without my music, and Velocity Bar’s got it nailed. While there, the DJ’s spinning a round-robin of nostalgia – 80s/90s stuff that have me and my friends bobbing our heads. I’d have gotten up to swing my hips a little too but dessert’s on the way and I’ve got first dibs. This is music that’s great to bust a move or “chillax” to – loud enough to “bomb the bass” but low enough to carry a conversation. Jason Inocencio, Velocity Bar’s Marketing & Promotions Executive mentions that he’s (roughly) scheduled Fridays for the 80s/90s playlists while Saturdays continue on into the 80s segueing into “mashups” of techno and house. The music masters for all these are deejays Ralph Ray and Bob Nolasco who turn up the beat on Fridays while Rico Arce and Emil Angeles lord it over on Saturdays with the possible entry of DJ Funk Avy.
Dessert’s especially sweet for me at Velocity Bar thanks to the boss tunes. The forest berry compote plays up the creaminess of the Manhattan-Style Cheesecake (P340): sour, sweet, creamy, rich. But it’s the Warm White and Dark (P350) dessert that has me slapping my friends’ forks away. (I’m not at my friendliest when dessert’s on the table). Essentially a glorified brownie sundae, this is what every brownie sundae wishes it was: a moist, fall-apart brownie with candied layers baked in that possess a meringue-nougat texture, caramelized walnuts, and maple syrup ice cream. Worthy of all the superlatives my alcohol-addled brain can muster at 11 in the evening, this is a hell of a
chocolate-laden, bottom-broadening, thoroughly evil and all levels of divine dessert. I’m only sad that my photos can do it no justice.
Between you and me
The prices on this post scare you, I know. I can vouch for the food but yes, pay through the nose, I know. Keep in mind that this is the Marriott Hotel, the bar almost a replica of the Velocity Bar in the Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong. One look around the lobby (and at Velocity Bar) and you’ll be reminded that this is no Friday’s or even American Sports Grill. Give it a go anyway. Indulge yourself, especially this February. Take your honey (or honeys) there. If at all, the music will blow you away (as it did me) and know that Velocity Burger begs to be devoured, even just once. And my god, for all that is sweet and pure, don’t pass up the Warm White and Dark.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
Velocity Sports and Entertainment Bar
Ground Floor, Marriott Hotel Manila
No. 10 Newport Boulevard, Newport City Complex, Pasay City (opposite NAIA 3).
988.9999 local 8114
Open from Sunday to Thursday 6:00pm -12:00am; Friday and Saturday 6:00pm -1:00am
Think it’s too far? Pshaw! Take the SLEX, go up the ramp headed towards NAIA 3, and you’re there! Only a 15-minute ride from Makati.
**Come for The Super Bowl!
Feb. 8, 2010
American Breakfast + 2 San Mig Lights or Pale Ale (P750 nett)
Private areas available