Tuesday, September 25, 2018

All Over the World at THE RED PIANO

The Backstory

What happens when a group of friends from DLSU Mechanical Engineering Batch 78 get together? They create a restaurant called  THE RED PIANO...

Per Chef Carlo, their  barkada  always held  reunions in restaurants or in his home. The get-togethers became more pronounced over the last 3 years until they just had an epiphany one day and decided to put up a restaurant where they can hold their bonding on a regular basis and earn from it at the same time.

They thought they'd name the their restaurant "The Reunion" which was exactly the motivation for this endeavor.

But then one day Chef Carlo Llave had a dream about a red piano and a microphone. This vision was so vivid and felt so right, Chef Carlo can not get it out of his head. So he convinced his buddies to ditch the "reunion" in favor of  its name now.   The  RED PIANO  was born.


The original idea for the RED PIANO was a speakeasy club. Thus the secret door inside the resto. The construction took a lot longer than expected though so that the November  2017 opening date was moved to January 2018. The speakeasy concept turned into a lounge.

Chef Carlo bought a Yamaha baby grand and had it colored Ferrari red in keeping with its eponym.  Everyday from 6pm-8pm  is live music, followed by a singer accompanied by the piano from 8-11 pm. After 11 pm its Karaoke night.
The huge open kitchen at the ground floor
The ground area is dominated by the open kitchen which is huge! Chef Carlo encouraged us to check it out. Everything was stainless and so neat and tidy. I want exactly the same kitchen for my house huhu
The "piano" at the bar. 

The 2nd floor holds the 'secret' lounge upstairs. It is like swimming in a sea of red and black hues. Do not forget to check out the  interesting bar with piano keysOf course the real red piano is just across.

You will love the set up here. It is intimate and cozy ,offering you and your group a feeling of exclusivity . Plus although there is live music,  you can still here each other talk above the din.

The wall of fame . Check out the owners of  The Red Piano - then and now.

The Food

Eclectic.     Authentic.   Celebratory dishes from Chef Carlo's travels around the world.

France's Beef Bourguignon P1100

Chef Carlo relates with gusto that  from his sojourns in France, he took home  the experience of  Beef Bourguignon   and replicated it at The Red Piano.  Going for authenticity, he braised the beef in beaujolais wine . After all Beef Bourguignon literally translated means beef in red wine.

Together with the beaujolais,  beef is also braised in  brown stock ala Julia Childs. But unlike Julia Childs , he went further than the 8-16 hours simmer to a total of 48 hours.

The result ? a rich  decadent and robust beaujolais-based sauce that coats the palate lovingly. The beef was indeed tender  infused with the flavors of carrots, mushrooms and an undertone of smoked pancetta (?) . The dish  went well with angel hair pasta or was it spaghettini but rice-loving Pinoys would probably order extra rice.

Italy's Osso Bucco P1500
Imported red veal shank cooked low and slow until meat is fall-off-the-bone tender in 
Pinot Grigio and meticulously prepared brown stock. 
Topped with gremolata . Served with either risotto or pasta.

From Italy , Chef Carlo brings in the celebratory dish Osso Bucco which is Italian for "bone with a hole" -  osso"bone" bucco "hole" (Wikipedia)

Chef Carlo was proud to share that The Red Piano uses New Zealand Veal  braised in Pinot Grigio and the same brown stock  simmered for 48 hours used in Beef Bourguignon. 

Pinot Grigio is  a white wine grape variety thought to be a clone of pinot noir (wiki) 
Gremolata  is a chopped herb condiment classically made of lemon zest, garlic, parsley and anchovy

The NZ veal was indeed fall off the bone and so tender, it was a joy relishing its texture and flavors. The sauce was scrumptious with complex flavors  from the butter , Pinot Grigio and the 48 hour brown stock.

Spain's Carne Y Mariscos Paella 
(4-5 ppl P1490, 6-8 ppl P2980)
Authentic Bomba Rice, chorrizos chicken, shrimps, mussels, clams

From his  trips in Espana,  Chef Carlo brought in  the Paella de Marisco. What is Paella de Marisco?

Paella de Marisco or Seafood Paella  is the world's most popular paella recipe. It emerged in its modern 
version in Spain's Valencian coastal region in the early 1800s...- Wikipedia

Per Chef Carlo, The Red Piano is just one among 2 or  3 restaurants which uses Bomba Rice (from Calaspara in Spain)  for their paella owing to its price - about P1000 per kilo. They also use saffron for their dish.

BOMBA RICE  was nearly extinct until gourmet chef recently recognized its  superior quality for producing the perfect paella.... Each year  a  precious amount of the very best rice in Spain is cultivated in the village of Calasparra in the neighboring region of Murcia - La Tienda

TRP also served us their Paella Negra  ( 4-5 P1385, 6-8 P2765).  I loved the flavor of the squid ink on the Bomba rice. When it comes to paella,  my favorite part would be scraping all those socarrat  from the bottom of the pan. That is where all the flavors are concentrated....

soccarat  is the crusty part at the the bottom of the paella pan. In local parlance its the "tutong"

Italy's Spaghetti alle Carbonara 

From his travels in Italy, Chef Carlo Llave shared what an authentic carbonara is. TRP's Spaghetti alle Carbonara ( with local pancetta P365, with guanciale P510)  is composed only of 4 ingredients - parmegianno regianno, pecorino, guanciale  and egg yolk. No cream. The Italians do not use cream on their carbonara.

Guanciale  is an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived
from guancia, Italian for cheek - Wikipedia

Per Chef Carlo, The Red Piano (TRP) is the only restaurant in the metro that  makes carbonara with the most authentic ingredients. The guanciale  is not available anywhere in the country. Chef Carlo hand carries the guanciale from his trips  in Italy

Spaghetti alle Frutti di Mare P420

Frutti di Mare literally means "fruit of the sea ". Chef  Carlo proudly shared how all the seafood in the dish are fresh from the sea.

One Big Cracklin P280

That One Big Cracklin is not your usual kropek  (fish/shrimp crackling). It is actually pig's  skin boiled for 3 hours to remove the fat , dehumidified for 14 hours , and finally deep fried for a few seconds.

The result  is indeed One Big Cracklin bigger than my face . It was huge enough to be shared by one barkada. It was well seasoned, you dont even need a dip for it. A little caveat though -  quite addicting

San Fran Clam Chowder P550
An iconic dish of San Francisco served in artisanal sourdough bread bowl. 

Each bowl uses almost 3/4 cup of a kilo of clam, double smoked bacon, real clam juice and  herbs and spices. The bread uses a 20 year old mother yeast specially formulated for  The Red Piano by Baker and Cook's Chef Dean Brettschneider.

Dean Brettschneider is the founder of Baker & Cook  which is now in the Philippines as part of the Bistro Group of the  Italianni's, Fridays, Fish & Company, Bulgogi Brothers  fame.. Dean is known internationally as THE GLOBAL BAKER has authored 12 books and is multi-awarded.

TRP's  San Fran Clam Chowder indeed reminded me of  Fisherman's Wharf's  clam chowder but better  in terms of  flavor and price. The taste of the sea was strong from the clams and its juice. The smoked bacon with the herbs and spices elevated the flavors a notch but did not overpower the clams which was the star of the dish.

I loved the sourdough. It held its shape even with the hot, heavy, creamy clam chowder that was poured into it. I loved how its sourness complemented the chowder. I would have loved some butter though to go with it.

Other Dishes Served

Beef Salpicao P320
Australian sirloin, garlic, olive oil

Chicken Yakitori Medley P328
Thigh, wing, heart, liver,  tail


"Good food can only come from good ingredients "

Guanciale from Italy , Bomba Rice from Calasparra Spain, Saffron,  New Zealand Veal,  20 year old mother yeast, pearl onions from France, Beaujolais from France, Pinot Grigio from Italy...

Indeed Chef Carlo  remains true to his  adage that "good food can only come from good ingredients" .  

In striving for authenticity, he travels far and wide to get his ingredients. Imagine hand-carrying the guanciale (pork jowls) all the way from Italy or spending P1000 for a kilo of  Bomba Rice for his paella. 

That is commitment right there and  passion.

The best part about The Red Piano?  Their price point is not that astronomical ( see above ) considering the quality of the ingredients, the service and the location.

Plus you get to listen to live music from 6-8 pm , listen to a live singer accompanied on the baby grand upstairs from 8am to 11 pm and after that you can go karaoke all night. No cover charge.

Definitely returning with the piggery in tow...

Thank you Chef Carlo Llave for having us and the Zomato for the invite.

The Red Piano is located at The Plaza at Arya Residences, Mckinley Parkway Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

The Red Piano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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