There are only a few places on earth we know so well like the back of our hands. The rest, we know like the back of our heads. The realization of being a total stranger to our surroundings, instead of invoking the reality that we fear what we don’t know, ushers in a tingling feeling of adventure and wonder. Otherwise, imagine how boring life would be. We don’t know the place. We explore. We have fun. Life is indeed full of adventures.
If you walk along the traffic-choked thoroughfare of Quezon City’s university belt, Katipunan Avenue, you’ll notice an endless parade of restaurants that serve the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University and the Miriam College. One of these restaurants, out back at the parallel street of Esteban Abada, is the Brickfire Oven-Roasted Steaks and Chops.
We usually don’t care about the name but Brickfire has a name that begs to be processed. Remind us to talk to Brickfire‘s owners one of these days but in case we don’t get around to do that, we’ll do our best to pretend that we know how to cook. First, let’s debone the end-part of Brickfire Oven-Roasted Steaks and Chops. A steak, it is said, is “generally a cut of beef sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibers, or of fish cut perpendicular to the spine.” A chop, on the other hand, is a “cut of meat cut perpendicularly to the spine, and usually containing a rib or riblet part of a vertebra and served as an individual portion.” If only someone could bravely step up the place and help us slice through this know. We’re not really sure if the real distinction between a steak and a chop is whether the cut is perpendicular to the muscle fibers or perpendicular to the spine. Not helpful in trying to distinguish between a chop and a steak, right? The important thing to know is that Brickfire serves steaks and chops. We got ourselves the tenderloin steak known as Duke and the Tanigue.
The Duke is good. Good beef nicely cooked, coupled with delicious mashed potato. The Tanigue is something else. We know it as tangigue but we can’t really argue if Brickfire calls it Tanigue. Besides, it’s quite useless to argue whether tanigue lacks an extra “n” because we can settle to call it mackerel, as what it is. A fish we like better when served as kinilaw (ceviche) — tangigue can’t argue with vinegar but, grill or roast it and it can turn rubbery when overcooked.
We didn’t mind, though. We trooped to Brickfire not for the steak (though we’ll definitely come back for more of it) or the tanigue (let’s just say that, uhm, we’ll stick with the livestock). We were at Brickfire because we’ve heard from hardcore foodies that the burger is good. We had to order something else to mask our real target, the burger. We had to blend with the crowd and see how the burger looks like, and tastes like, in any given Sunday.
Right in front of the menu, amidst the busy lunch crowd, the Bully Burger smirked like any confident burger would.
Brickfire is one of the few burger joints which we intend to visit. First is the Bypass Burger and we must say we’re excited with the prospects of this new burger quest. This is no ordinary quest, mind you. We’ve assimilated a new thinking that if we want a true burger, we better visit a restaurant that mainly serves burgers. Stand-alone burger joints are infinitesimally way better than their fast-food uncles, the new line of thinking goes. Then why, if somebody saw us recently in Kenny Rogers, did we order burger in a fast-food place that mainly serves roasted chicken, not burger? Good question. The answer is simple: curiosity. We’ve found out that Kenny Rogers now serves burgers as well. We just have to try it out because, for all we know, we might miss a burger gold. Besides, how can we resist a “buy 1, take 1” deal? We’ve found out that it wasn’t a burger gold. We know our burgers because we love our burgers. To us, burgers have personalities. The Kenny Rogers 1/3 pound cheeseburger feels sad and we genuinely wish Mr. Rogers can make it happy. A happy burger makes a happy customer. In turn, a happy customer comes back and brings other customers. This, however, is properly the subject of another post.
Right now, we’ll go back to Brickfire’s Bully Burger. While we believe in second chances, we rely heavily of our impressions during the initial GTKY phase. That’s Getting-To-Know-You, we’ve learned in school (and who ever said we don’t learn anything useful in school). The menu says that the Bully Burger is 100% ground beef quarter pounder with cheese chunk inside and the burger served on our table pretty much looks like it. Fresh crispy lettuce and juicy red tomato on top of mayo and ketchup. The upper half of the bun, sporting an Australian flag that could only denote the origin of the beef patty, is purposely tilted to the side, just like the slanted beret of a snappy special forces officer. It’s meant to show off the beef patty, a 3/4-inch thick chunk of ground beef that is seared golden brown-to-black on both sides. Oil-soaked french fries look like scared kids jostling for space on one corner of the plate. It’s a burger that, on first impression, screams, “Quick! Eat me now, you wimp!”
We’re not sure if the Brickfire’s chefs do burger talk. It’s like gooey baby talk that parents surprisingly understand. We get the feeling that Brickfire’s chefs prepared and saw the burger before naming it. And they rightfully called it the Bully Burger. Not that there’s anything to be happy about bullying or that bullying should be glorified in the name of a burger, but it is what it is. A Bully Burger.
The first bite dispels the first impression that the Bully Burger is dry. It’s actually juicy, dangerously close to the extreme edge of what’s juicy for our palates (the one that went overboard our taste is Burger Project, but that was three years ago; we’ll drop by for a take two one of these days). The extra juicy nature of the beef patty could be the reason for the dry nature of the burger buns, although it’s most likely that the balance is unintentional because the juice quickly soaked the bun. The secret? Eat it fast. Yes, you heard the burger the first time, “Quick! Eat me now, you wimp!” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one hidden secret of Esteban Abada.