Dining

Josh Boutwood's Newest Restaurant Savage Proves that Primal Can Be Prim and Pretty

Lamb and pork chops, rib eye, and flank steak-all grilled and smoked-are most definitely on offer at this pre-industrial restaurant.
IMAGE MIGUEL NACIANCENO FOR SAVAGE
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In Manila’s 35-degree heat, I often wonder how our forefathers survived a Philippine summer without electricity. The idea of no spinning fans, no air- conditioning, and no running cold water on tap is not a time or place that I think anyone would be eager to go back to, especially out of conscious choice.


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But with his new pre-industrial restaurant, Savage, and self-imposed sanctions that eliminate all modern conveniences found in today’s professional kitchens, Josh Boutwood, corporate chef of the Bistro Group and head of the renowned Test Kitchen, once again proves that he is very much unlike the rest of us when it comes to his ideas about food. In a deliberate decision to explore age-old, elemental cooking techniques, he shows us just how much one can do with fire, smoke, and ash.


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Josh Boutwood 

You wouldn’t be entirely wrong if you have already envisioned a menu overrun with slabs of charred meat made more succulent by the blood-stained juices running through and out of them—lamb and pork chops, rib eye, and flank steak, grilled and smoked are most definitely all on offer—but I guarantee that this is not a restaurant made only for carnivores eager to tear through their food with bare hands. Boutwood is part English after all, and everything from method to menu is nothing if not civilized.

For starters, I doubt that cavemen cut through their chops using French Laguiole knives as diners do here, nor did they begin their meal with plates of creamy carabao burrata served with confit of garlic and freshly-picked heirloom tomatoes, head cheese terrine and cornichons, or sumptuous devilled eggs enhanced with smoked oil and ash.


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Carabao burrata 


Charred romaine with anchovy garlic dressing

The guiding principle at Savage may be “back to basics” in how the food is prepared, but it is certainly not cliché in its vision that the sole idea of primal must oppose sophistication altogether. Here, grilled barramundi is paired with arugula, preserved lemon, and kalamata olives; scallop crudo is plated with pomelo, chive, and chilli; and grilled pear is served with capicola. Sides include but move beyond rice, corn and potatoes, with plates of charred leeks with burnt butter or French beans and lemon.

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Manila clams, lime leaf, cilantro


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Scallop crudo, pomelo, chili and chive

Boutwood is very much a "selectionist" and uses produce and ingredients only when he feels they are at their prime. And while he puts great emphasis on local products he chooses not to be bound by them. He does not complicate an ingredient to mask its true flavor but rather lets it speak for itself using ample creativity to achieving complex flavors.


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Roasted potatoes, fresh cheese, and parsley



Ribeye with charred onions


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Lamb chops, mint and malt 


Salt baked- prawns, crab fat emulsion


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Grilled barramundi with preserved lemons and kalamuti olives

“When it comes to Savage’s menu, sourcing locally, understanding provenance and working with zero waste are not marketing taglines. They are our bible, our way of thinking, “ he says. “ In the end, the ingredient is King.” 

With Savage now open every day for lunch and dinner, Boutwood has temporarily closed his Test Kitchen dining room. “Just for now," he reassures. I’m not worried. Coming soon and located right below Savage will be a 12-seater dining counter called Helm where he will continue to impress with his creative degustation.


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Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream


Strawberries, meringue, and vanilla cream

As I fight for every morsel of the sticky toffee pudding topped with vanilla ice cream with my dining companions and reach for the last spoonful of meringue, strawberries and vanilla, I ask him how he managed to create these pre-industrial desserts. He smiles. “ I’m not crazy nor am I a magician, “ he says. But with Josh Boutwood, one can never know the limits to his magic.

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Ground floor, The Plaza, Arya Residences, Mc Kinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, 0915.333.9456

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Alicia Colby Sy
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