I’ve been to OTKB (Olive Tree Kitchen & Bar) three times: the first time was in September when the restaurant couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether it was open or closed on a given day, and the past two times, I came over for cocktails. I like OTKB because it’s got a mesmerizing selection of antipasti, little plates to titillate, while offering larger dishes for family-style eating on the weekends. I hear the Fish & Frites are fabulous as are the Bistecca and Short Ribs.
But when I’m here, I’ve got cocktails in mind. The Planter’s Punch is a little sweet for me but it’s quite the crowd-pleaser with the people I bring over. It’s a play on light and dark rums, bitters, pineapple, and orange times two: in liqueur and fresh. I usually have the Manila Mule, where mango and calamansi get kicked up with vodka and ginger.
The pizza (P375-P420) at OTKB is currently my favorite pizza in Manila. It’s everything I’ve been looking for: a pillow-soft dough that’s thick and puffy at the edges. I detest cracker-thin pizza. Chewy in places, its shape reminds me of a fougasse, a French focaccia formed into a wheat stalk. The Mushroom and Provolone is what you see above, a duo of what I believe to be button and enoki mushrooms basking in melted provolone. The Apple, Gorgonzola & Walnut pizza is also good, as is one pizza I have one time topped with a drippy fried egg.
OTKB has a pasta called the Sopranos Sunday Gravy (P495) and it’s carnal desire in a pasta bowl.
Now, take a breath and if that description is just too much for you, then stop reading right here. There’s no “gravy” to speak of in this pasta or sauce, come to think of it. The lubrication in this dish comes from the variety meats – marrow, ox tail, liver, and tripe. There are also bits of bavette, which is a flap meat, boneless and flavorful and similar to flank steak. All these are simmered short of forever so their truest, meaty essences are enticed out.
Most pastas sort of creep up on me when it comes to flavor, a sidling then a settling. Not this one. On first forkful, there’s an overwhelming beefiness that exceeds and succeeds with every suck and slurp. Somewhere in the back of my tongue there’s a flash of fat and coy, a connection consumed between flavor and savor.
Then there are those meatballs, a texture intersecting soft and shimmy. It’s a monster of marrow disguised in minced meat juicy and wet. “My god, this is just too much,” my Bin murmurs. He sounds almost offended. So I pull the dish towards me, never unabashed am I at such flavorful excess.
Never has there been a meatier, sexier pasta dish than this.
Olive Tree Kitchen & Bar / OTKB
Bonifacio High Street, B3
9th Ave Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 823 0366