FOODVENTURE SERIES | Zark’s Burgers, Pins & Bricks Pizza Bistro & Bunk

December has been both a busy and festive month for me. Despite the fact that Christmas this year did not made that much appeal to me –probably because of my preoccupation because of work— I did slightly felt its presence with the people around me. To be frank, it has been a long time since I last received a gift –you know, that kind of gifts wrapped in a gift wrapper—and unexpectedly  received some this Christmas from the people surrounding me. I was surprised because I probably got used to the routine of not receiving any material gift every Christmas, nonetheless, happy at the same time because of the thought.

This month has been festive for me as well because of the side-by-side gatherings I was invited to. From Christmas parties to bosses’ Christmas treats down to office lunch outs, I have saved a lot of money for food from these occasions causing me to splurge on more food as I try different restaurants for the first time.

The following are the places that made in my month’s food-venture. If you want to check out my November one, which includes two restaurants from Kapitolyo, you can read it here in this link.

Zark’s Burgers

I’m probably late for the Zark’s Burger’s craze but I have been wanting to try this restaurant as early as 2014 –back to the days when its Vito Cruz branch was so popular. Luckily this month, I was able to finally fulfil this wish when my friend and I decided to try its signature burgers at its Venice Piazza branch in McKinley Hill. As what most people say, better late than never.

As usual, along with my never ceasing expectation of an impressing interior, the first thing that I took time to notice upon our arrival in the place is its design which, did not really impress me. Its Venice Piazza branch is not that big, contrary to what I have expected (but I appreciate the place’s high ceiling). The design was basic. The walls were covered with wood wallpaper partnered with brown tables and red chairs. The amount of lighting hitting the tables was fine; it wasn’t too bright nor too dim.   The only piece of design which I appreciate is the two large mirrors attached across each other which created an illusion that the place is bigger than its actual size. There are also tables outside of the establishment for people who like to dine outside or smoke after their meal.

As a first timer, I did had a slightly difficult time what to order in the menu since everything in it appeared to be the same upon first look –especially the burger section–but eventually I decided to settle for one of place’s new bacon burgers called the Ultimate Bacon Four-Cheese Burger (P190) and partnered it with a rice meal called Wings ‘n Chips (P145) which is available in spicy, sweet and sweet & spicy flavors. We were hungry when we arrived in the place, so a little amount of patience was needed from us when our orders took time to be served.

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Zark’s Burgers’ Ultimate Bacon Four-Cheese Burger and Wings ‘n Chips

I was pleased with the presentation when the food arrived –suffice for the time it took for us to wait. Hungry, I immediately started with the Wings ‘n Chips served in sweet & spicy. The dish was composed of four chicken wings partnered with a rice and mayonnaise on the side. I personally think that the dish was delicious –not the best Buffalo wings I’ve tasted but the taste was above average and beyond my expectation.

With still a space in my stomach, I proceeded with my main dish which is the bacon four-cheese burger. The dish was composed of the burger with four kinds of cheese and bacon partnered with a bacon cheese fries on the side and a beverage of your choice which can be a blue lemonade or an iced tea. I was slightly disappointed with the small amount of cheese and bacon sprinkled on to my fries. I think the fries would have tasted better if they have been more generous of the cheese’s serving. Nonetheless, the fries tasted good.

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Bacon Four-Cheese Burger and Bacon Cheese Fries

With regards to the new bacon burger, I quickly noticed the pale bacon atop of it. As a fan of overcooked bacon, this did not please me and made me to doubt initially if the dish is going to taste good. However, as I chew my first bite, I don’t think the bacon made a significant taste to the overall taste of the burger since the most abundant serving in the dish was the patty which, I think tasted good. I also liked the crispy buns of the dish which I think was perfect in delivering an overall good taste of the burger.

Similar with their other burgers and as what most people say, finishing this dish took time most especially if you are already feeling full which, what I was feeling when I was taking some last bite of the burger. Eventually, we were able to finish the dish with a heavy stomach and left the establishment past their closing time.

Generally, my experience at Zark’s was very good. The food and place were both good (though I felt really bad for myself for spending an entire night eating junk foods) plus the service was very accommodating. I would also like to laud the staff and the branch manager for such accommodating and hospitable service despite us staying quite a little longer past their operating hours. I did not feel any pressure to leave the establishment immediately although we were the only people in the place.

Zark’s Burgers has several branches across the metro, so if you also want to experience your first time at this restaurant, head on to their official Facebook page to get a list of their branches and visit the nearest one to you.

Pins & Bricks Pizza Bistro

My officemates and I discovered this restaurant while we were looking for a place to eat lunch one weekday afternoon. We didn’t even know that the place exists because it is located inside the 8101 Pearl Plaza which you will not realize has other restaurants inside unless you will enter inside of it.

Frankly, I really did not expect much from the place because it was hidden and I’ve never heard of it before. But upon reaching the second floor of the plaza and entering the establishment, I was surprised with the design of the place. As its name implies, yes, the interior design of the place is composed of bricks in the wall. In addition, the combination of the colors of the chairs, tables, and the counter which included reds, light browns and some touch of greys go well with the overall desired ambiance of the restaurant. I think the factor that really made the place appealing to me most was the warm and cozy lighting which, I personally think will make you want to stay in the place once you enter.

The place itself wasn’t that big. I think there are only less than ten tables present in the establishment. There was also a wall that keeps the different board games that diners can make use of while waiting for their food or while eating.

The restaurant’s menu offers, of course, pizzas but aside from these they also offer other dishes such as pastas and rice meals. Since it was a lunch and I was starving during our visit in the place, I decided to settle for a rice meal and ordered Bacon and Eggs (P99). I was supposed to order and try their Beef and Mushroom (P99), however, it was unavailable during that time.

One of the downsides which I found in the restaurant is the idea of lining up to the counter to order food. I personally think that this ruined the cozy ambiance of the place wherein you’re just supposed to have some good time with friends while eating and playing some board games. In addition, as mentioned above, the unavailability of some dishes in the menu upon ordering in the counter made my experience not that good. I was slightly annoyed when I realize that the dish that I wanted was unavailable.

The waiting time before my food was served was not that long but took some time for my office mates’ which, I think is another flop for the place. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the cute presentation of the food upon receiving it. I really like the idea of serving the food in a skillet and a chopping board –too hard to resist not to take a snapshot of it before eating it.

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Pins & Bricks’ Bacon & Egg

The food itself was not that good. I’m uncertain if there’s something wrong with my taste buds during that time or if the food doesn’t have that much taste. But after several bites, I really didn’t taste much from the bacon nor from the egg. I personally believe that some pinches of salt would do the trick but I guess the cook overlooked this important facet of the dish. However, I was surprised with the serving of the rice. As a person who consumes a great amount of rice while eating, I was expecting that the served rice wouldn’t be enough for me. But upon finishing the bacon and egg and realizing I still have some rice in my bowl, I couldn’t help myself but to be astounded because this rarely happens to me.

Generally, my experience at Pins and Bricks was not that good. To further add to the list of the place’s downsides, our clothes and hair even accumulated the different smell of foods cooked inside the place. How I wish they could provide better food and service because their restaurant and food presentation is too pretty for a meal that a diner won’t enjoy.

If you find yourself in Ortigas Center one of these days and want to try the other dishes in their menu such as their pizzas, Pins and Bricks Pizza Bistro is located at 2/F 8101 Pearl Plaza, Pearl Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City.

Bunk

Bunk has been one of those places that I’ve been looking forward to visit ever since I learned about it last year and recently, I had the chance to finally tick this place off in my to-do list.

Bunk is known for its place because of the overlooking view it offers to its diners. Located at the rooftop of an old building along Shaw Boulevard, this place will give you a view of Makati City on one side and a view of the Ortigas Center on the other. As a lover of everything related to city lights, this is the main reason why I am keen to visit this place and, of course, to chill after a stressful week at work.

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View of Makati City from Bunk

If you’re unfamiliar with the establishments found along Shaw Boulevard, you’ll probably have a hard time locating this rooftop bar because there isn’t any signage of the name of the building where Bunk can be found. The only guide that my friend and I used in locating the place was the information that it is the building in front of PCSO, which I read from an online article and eventually found out to be true.

When you find the building, you’ll be welcomed by an old lobby with two elevators across you with a sign that says that the lifts are not working, a sign that you’ll be making your way up to the rooftop with the use of the stairs. In addition and a heads up as well, you’ll be welcomed by masungit na security guards as if you did something terrible in the past that is unforgettable to them.

When you finally reach the top you’ll be welcomed by another security guard who is nicer compared to the one or two downstairs and after he have checked your bag, you’ll receive your prize: an overlooking view of the city.

The design of the place is a definition of chill for me. The walls are painted in light blue and there were wall paintings created by local artists which you can take a picture because they are Instagram-able. Mats can also be found in one section of the bar where you and your friends can lie down and star gaze or just talk about life. There also available tables and chairs for those who don’t want to sit on the ground. Expect that there aren’t much lights around since the place is intended for chilling.

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Bunk’s magazine collage wall

We arrived around past 9PM during a Friday evening and the place was already packed. Fortunately, we were able to secure some seats and order in no time. We settled for one of the bar’s Hungry Munchers, Sizzling Sisig with rice (P220) which is good for two to three people to fill our stomachs that haven’t taken its dinner yet and two bottles of beer (P50/each).

The food was good though there was nothing really special about its taste nor the presentation. That’s why we decided to order once more and go for a Nachos (P180). Unlike with the sisig, the nachos were notably delicious. I liked how unique the taste of the nachos were which went well with its partnering cheese. I think this finger food is suited for two to three people because my friend and I wasn’t able to finish this dish on our own.

In terms of service, the time before our foods were served was not that long though it will take a longer time to get the attention of the waiters to order for another dish. In addition, I also had a negative experience with their service when the security guard by the door has forgotten that I’ve already given our receipt which I had just only given to him several minutes ago. Nevertheless, the staff were very accommodating with the diners’ requests.

My overall experience at Bunk was good though it did not surpass my expectations mainly because we got a table that is located far from the best spot in the bar. At the same time, I wasn’t able to feel the ‘chill’ vibe of the place since there were a lot of people because it was a Friday. Moreover, the place is suited for groups of people and least likely for one to two persons. I think Bunk is a very good place during its first hour of opening to experience not only the place’s less crowded floors but to have a good view of the sunset as well.

If you want to visit this rooftop bar, Bunk is located at 8/F Jovan Building, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.

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