WORDS + PHOTOS by Richie Ramos
When I was assigned to check out Handlebar, I approached it with a mixture of anticipation and a bit of a secret shame. It was a welcome opportunity, since I’d always wanted to go to Handlebar to actually eat there, and not just to get a beer and listen to bands. On the other hand, given how long I’ve known about it, this would be the first time I’d actually eat there.
Handlebar – Handlebar Manila, in full – has been around since the early 2000s, and is a combination of bar, restaurant, and a hangout for bikers. The Mad Dog Motorcycle club calls it home, as do many of the expats that make up the majority of its clientele.
We decided to visit on a Sunday, rightly guessing that there wouldn’t be many people. We were able to get a table next to the windows, which we needed to take some photos of the food, as Handlebar had a low-key (read: dim) atmosphere.
Handlebar’s frontage is unassuming, with part of the parking area given over to outdoor seating and the grilling area. An awning and a roof-covered area around the door gives it the classic “beer-garden” vibe, though one look through the glass windows will dispel any negative connotations of the term.
Inside, it’s a classic mix of sports bar and live music venue, complete with large TVs and a projector tuned to cable sports channels and a raised platform full of music gear. Towards the back, there are two billiard tables.
As we took our seats, a very helpful server handed us our menus, and gave suggestions. We’d decided beforehand to try out the 1/3 Angus Beef Burger (P310), and the 12-ounce pork chops from Big John’s Barby (P495).
We’d been advised beforehand to be prepared for a bit of a long wait, and now we pass the advice on to you: waiting is a pleasure if you’re a sports fan, since it is a 24/7 sports bar. If not, it’s a good idea to bring good company. My partner and I ordered coffee, and after twenty minutes or so, the Angus burger was served.
Chopping up the Chops
Let’s talk about the pork chops. First, they’ll ask if you prefer it with barbecue sauce, or with salt and pepper. I opted for the latter, since I wanted to taste as much of the meat as possible. The pork chop more than met my expectations. Though a bit dry for my taste, the flavor of the meat was still very much there, a proper combination of texture and flavor, and tender enough to be easily separated with a knife and fork.
The chops were served with mashed potatoes, its milder taste complementing the pork chops very well. From the salad bar next to the grill, my partner added cucumber slices, tomatoes, and the highly recommended coleslaw and sour cream.
Handlebar’s pork chops are a must-have for first-timers, it’s a good dish, makes for an excellent beer match, and if you’re really hungry, you could finish the entire 12-oz. pork chop in one sitting (or split it with a friend).
The Angus burger didn’t look big, but I was, as the meal progressed, proven very wrong. Grilled with a minimum of char, it practically exploded with beefy flavor, as should be expected of a proper Angus burger. The texture was just right too, holding together well enough so as not to fragment when handled. The dense bread and the rather thick patty can be a handful, so if you aren’t a fan of messy eating a la burger, it’s fine to deconstruct the dish. I’d recommend this to people who simply want a great burger to sink their teeth into.
Finishing it off with pie
My partner and I figured, this being Dessert Comes First, that we should try their apple pie. Rather than a pie slice, it was a miniature pie, and it came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. Kudos that the mini-pie had a flaky crust, but I feel that it should have had more filling and cinnamon, too. Still, the ice cream and pie combination made for a respectable finish to the meal, accompanied as it was with coffee. I look forward to better experiences with their pie in the future.
31 Polaris st, Makati
02 898 1976