WYLD Kitchen x Bar Introduces Comfort Food That’s Spot On—With A Tinge Of “Fear Factor” Thrown In
Just across the street from ABS-CBN along Mother Ignacia Avenue lies a new restaurant that wants to take you on a little adventure into owner Kenn Gonzales’s time spent in the bucolic mountain town called Avon in Colorado. He spent a year interning at some of the best restaurants there, including The Ritz-Carlton and Bachelor Gulch.
“I was isolated from everything, the city. It was a small town surrounded by pine trees and it would be common to see bears crossing the streets,” he recounts this as we sit in his newly-opened restaurant called WYLD Kitchen x Bar. Salvaged planks of wood clad most of the walls of the restaurant. And black metal rods resemble branches of the pine trees prevalent in Colorado.
Gonzales’ sister Andrea Evangelista and her husband Alex Evangelista of Studio Evangelista helped bring the feel of Colorado into this space through the interior design. They placed stone tiles on a high wall to evoke mountains. Rustic, wooden tables with candlelight transport you to chalets common in ski towns. Other elements like the thick abaca rope on the ceiling and the rusted metal bar are a play on colors of the seasons in Avon. “I wanted to bring my experience there here. It’s wilderness with a modern twist,” Gonzales explains.
Gonzales learned his cooking techniques while in Colorado, “I was really lucky that the chefs took me in and really taught me. They put me on the line right away. It was stressful and everything but it was worth it.” He put those skills to good use right away when he returned to Manila.
With WYLD, he developed a “comforting” menu that would definitely warm up any cold night (and easily fill up any empty stomach). And all of this not without adventure.
You’ll see a lot of microgreens and edible flowers on the plates. Many of their ingredients are locally sourced. “It’s like a thank you to nature in a way,” Gonzales quips.
He’s right. The food isn’t overly flashy in plating (and it doesn’t need to be). This keeps your focus on each ingredient’s purpose. Colors are there and so is flavor. The Pan Seared Salmon for instance is exciting and almost new for such a common dish. Its perfectly cooked pink flesh against the purple of the black rice contrasts well with the medley of colors of the corn salsa.
The Pan Seared Salmon is cooked perfectly with a well-seasoned, crispy skin, made complete with black rice, corn salsa, and lemon aioli
WYLD Forest Salad is a colorful mix of edible flowers, cherry tomatoes, mixed greens, and baby radishes. Candied walnuts add a sweet crunch, while the honey vinaigrette is light, allowing each ingredient’s flavor to come through
A beautifully plated Arrabiata Pasta, traditionally spicy with tomato confit, basil, microgreens, and shaved Parmesan
The Spinach Dip is rich and creamy with a torched top, the better to dip house-made vegetable chips, organic tortilla chips, or crudités
WYLD’s version of the burger is loaded with locally sourced mulberry steak sauce, poached egg, yellow cheddar, tomato, onion, on a brioche bun.
WYLD also has a great lineup of cocktails. Gonzales tapped Palawan couple Larry and Sharleen of Liquid Concepts (also known for getting the golden buzzer on Pilipinas Got Talent 3 years ago for their flair bartending routine). “Together we conceptualized the drinks. We spent about 3 weeks drinking together!” he says.
WYLD’s creative cocktail lineup of Radiculous, Aloe & Coco, Afterglow, and Flora X Fauna
The one drink that will probably catch everyone’s attention is the Flora X Fauna. The drink itself is a delicious, tangy and sweet pink concoction of gin, grapefruit juice, lemon juice with rose foam. What tops it is what will get some real curious: basil and butterfly pea flower (representing flora) and several crunchy deep-fried mealworms called Chichaworms (representing fauna). It’s very aromatic and you’ll soon discover that the mealworms are a pleasant, salty side snack to your drink. (Pro tip: consume the Chichaworms immediately before they lose their crunch). Come on Thursdays, and WYLD has Buy One Get One on signature cocktails like Flora X Fauna (you can imagine the fun this can stimulate with your group of friends).
Flora X Fauna will definitely start conversations with several chichaworms floating on top. If you pass the worms, the drink is quite a tasty mix of gin, grapefruit juice, rose foam, and basil
The Radiculous is a refreshing drink made of radish infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and aloe vera juice, with a speared pickled radish sitting as garnish
Called Afterglow, this drink starts off as a green concoction of gin, calamansi liqueur, and house-made camote tops syrup. When poured into another glass with fresh lemon juice, it magically turns into a pale pink color
This mocktail has aloe vera juice and the freshness of basil with cubes of nata de coco
If you’re from Quezon City, the Timog/Morato area is definitely bustling with new restaurants and bars. WYLD Kitchen x Bar just wants to be there for you and your friends when you want to have a great time. “We want this place to be somewhere you can chill and relax. Somewhere you can consider as a safe haven.”
2/F The Grandia Place, 143 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City, (0919) 990-8805, @wyld.ph on Facebook and Instagram
Photos by Jar Concengco