Chef Josh Boutwood Plays With Fire At His Bold New Restaurant Called Savage
Chef Josh Boutwood
Barely a year after 31-year-old Filipino-British maverick chef Josh Boutwood opened The Test Kitchen—his 20-seater, by reservation only restaurant—to critical acclaim, now comes Savage.
Savage is the new restaurant that Chef Josh fondly refers to as the “alter ego” of The Test Kitchen. Unlike The Test Kitchen which is equipped with the latest culinary gadgets, Savage has none of this modern day paraphernalia. Instead, it’s an almost bare bones kitchen set-up dominated by a glowing hearth at its heart, complete with customized, moveable grills and using only oak and coconut husk charcoal for fuel. Chef Josh relies mainly on hot, glowing embers, smoke, and the open flame to cook. The only concession to high-tech equipment is one lone oven used to bake the restaurant’s house breads.
Savage is set to redefine the Filipino experience of the grill that most locals associate with the ubiquitous, smoky, outdoor barbecue joint or ihawan. Thanks to the restaurant’s excellent exhaust system, you don’t smell or inhale any of the smoke coming from the kitchen, nor do you go home with clothes reeking of smoke or food odors. A rarity in restaurants with open kitchens.
“Ingredient is king,” says Chef Josh, and indeed, the menu gives importance to its raw ingredients. The Savage menu is divided into seven sections: snacks, salads, fish, meat & poultry, sides, and drinks. I strongly recommend that you order your main dishes together with the starters as wood fire cooking does take time.
Devilled Eggs, Smoke Oil, Ash
Start with a few appetizers like the freshly popped, giant size Pork Rinds or chicharon that comes with vinegar powder and curry ketchup. Or else try the Devilled Eggs with smoke oil and ash. For cheese lovers, there’s the sizzling Fresh Carabao Cheese or kesong puti served in a mini cast iron pan, finished with a drizzle of chive oil and topped with heirloom tomatoes confit.
Barramundi, Arugula, Preserved Lemon, Olives
Grilled Tuna Jaw
Among the mains, my early favorites (after three visits) include the always perfectly grilled whole Barramundi or apahap served with arugula, preserved lemon, and olives, as well as the Grilled Tuna Jaw or panga cooked with yeast and miso. It’s like a glam version of an old childhood favorite of grilled tuna from the long gone, famous Pasay City hole-in-the-wall tuna joint Joseph and Jaemark’s.
Lamb Chops, Mint, Malt
Fellow lamb lovers must order the perfectly grilled Lamb Chops with fresh mint sauce and malt.
Other good meat options include a moist, thick cut King Edward Pork Chop that comes with a light mustard leaf chimichurri sauce and the medium rare Flank Steak with ash and pickled ramp.
Flank Steak, Ash, Pickled Ramp
In lieu of a salad, I highly recommend side orders like the Charred Leeks and Grilled Haricot Verts or French beans instead.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Desserts in Savage are of the rustic, homey kind, which I think are a perfect fit with the food it serves. If I were to choose just one, it’s going to be a toss-up between the rich Sticky Toffee Pudding inspired by Chef Josh’s English mom, or the Klad Kaka, a dense, brownie-like Swedish chocolate cake with a slightly gooey center that’s served with a dollop of cream, inspired by Chef Josh’s Swedish wife.
This 60-seater industrial chic modern eatery is located in an al fresco restaurant area called The Plaza in Arya Residences, Bonifacio Global City. Savage is housed in a two-storey corner duplex, but you’ll have to ascend a short flight of stairs with around 20 steps to reach the main dining area on the second floor. The ground floor will house another Josh Boutwood restaurant to be called Helm that is set to open mid-2018.
The Plaza, Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, (0927) 374-8539, FB and IG @savagemnl, open daily for lunch 11am to 3pm and dinner 6pm to 10pm
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Lead photo from @savagemnl
Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa