How much are you willing to pay for a good burger?
Chances are, if you’ve passed by Pound by Todd English, the newest restaurant opening at the upscale community of Bonifacio High Street, you’re probably prepared to cough up more than what you would usually spend for a choice burger.
The stark yet modish design of this restaurant gives customers the impression that this is an upscale diner, the kind wherein you need to use cutlery to slice into your sliders. The white bricks, the touches of gold, the candles and dim lighting, the brass mugs, and the overall 1920’s Prohibition-era speakeasy feel — it sure doesn’t seem like the kind of burger joint where you can grab your sandwich and get your hands dirty while eating it. Aside from that, the restaurant is spearheaded by celebrity chef Eric Dee of Foodee Global Concepts, the man who introduced Manila to some of today’s popular restaurants such as Mesa, Tim Ho Wan, and of course, Todd English Food Hall.
But at Pound by Todd English, no need to prepare a lot of moolah to enjoy a great meal. But do prepare to be surprised! This seemingly swanky restaurant actually offers a surprisingly affordable menu! They have sides that start at PHP 50 and burgers that you can bite into for PHP 195. An average spend at Pound would be around PHP 300 pesos or even less. There is an enormous disparity between the elitist ambiance and the cheap prices, but this is certainly a nice surprise!
Before Pound officially opens this February 5, I got a chance to do a taste test of their bites. We started off with a dish that is not included in the menu (but will be), the Fried Truffled Beans.
Your mom would always tell you to eat your veggies. Well, you won’t have any problems eating these veggies! Okay, maybe these are not the healthiest vegetables in the world because they’re deep fried, but if you’re not a fan of vegetables, maybe this is a good place to start. It’s actually one of my favorites from their selection because the vegetables are tasty and crunchy, and that truffle aioli sauce just makes everything taste a hundred times better! More sauce, please!
The # sign.
The Generation Z babies would probably know this sign as a “hashtag” but before the days of Instagram, this was known as the pound sign. POUND sign. Get it? The pound sign is sneaked into elements of the restaurant, such as this paper placed in the container of the sides. Sometimes, it can also be seen on the sauces.
My fellow blogger ordered this Crispy Goat Cheese Salad (PHP 150). They weren’t kidding about the “crispy” bit. This is a mix of Fresh Greens, Baby Heirloom Tomato, Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Deep Fried Goat Cheese Ravioli. Make sure to mix it well so the vinaigrette spreads out and adds flavor to everything.
Snack on the Truffle Risotto Tater Tots (PHP 150 for 5 pcs / PHP 290 for 10 pcs). These bite-size babies are not only fun to eat, but they’re delightful as well, especially when dipped into the truffle aioli sauce. Watching a movie? Forget popcorn! Order these tater tots for take out, and nibble on them at the cinema. But if you want them served piping hot, have them at the restaurant together with a burger or some sliders.
Poutine is a popular side dish originating in Canada, consisting of three main ingredients: French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. They’re really fatty and supposed to be really good as well! I have not had actual poutine here in Manila, simply because cheese curds are hard to find here, so I really have no idea how it tastes like, and I can’t compare Pound’s poutine with actual poutine from Canada. But Pound’s take on poutine is quite nice and gives an interesting spin on fries (nice, fries… they rhyme!).
There are three kinds of poutine at Pound: Todd English, Pizza, and Bacon.
The Todd English Poutine (PHP 180) are Fresh Cut Fries mixed with Home Made Gravy, Caramelized Onions, Cheese, and Ground Beef. It’s the simplest kind of poutine at Pound, but still tasty. And the fries’ texture has the right mix of crispness and moistness.
Who doesn’t love bacon (and fries)? Pound combines these two comfort food in their Bacon Poutine (PHP 160) and throws in Home Made Gravy and Cheese into it. Don’t you feel like you’re getting a little fatter just by looking at the picture and reading the rich ingredients? And you know that it’s the bad stuff that actually tastes good, and Pound’s Bacon Poutine may not be good for the waistline but a little of this won’t hurt.
Pizza as fries? Why not? Fries comes in pizza form through Pound’s Pizza Poutine (PHP 160) has Roasted Garlic, Tomato Sauce, Basil Chiffonade, and Parmesan. If you like your food saucy, then order this. The fries are happily swimming in thick tomato sauce, which means you’ll also be happily licking your fingers as you take each fry.
Obviously, Pound specializes in burgers, which are done by sous-vide cooking. Sous-vide is a method of cooking wherein food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath and cooked for a very long time at a very precise temperature, sometimes as long as 24 hours, or even more. With this kind of cooking method, you can expect the burgers to have the perfect texture — juicy, soft, and succulent.
For groups who dine at Pound and want to taste a little bit of everything, instead of getting full on just one big burger, sliders are a good choice.
The T.E. Slider (PHP 155 for 2 pcs) consists of House Ground Beef Patty, Tomato, Iceberg Lettuce, Crispy Onion, Mustard Relish, T.E. Sauce, and Toasted Homemade Brioche Bun. Aside from these sliders being Instagram and “#foodporn” material, they are also full-flavored, and thus deserves the hashtag “#yummy”!
Burgers for breakfast is not such a bad idea! Try Pound’s Bacon and Egg Sliders (PHP 200 for 2 pcs). House-cured Bacon, Apple Aioli, Quail Egg, packed in two pieces of Toasted Homemade Brioche Buns, will make your morning (or afternoon or night, if you choose to have this for lunch or dinner, respectively!)
The third slider that I was able to try, The T.E. Crispy Chicken Sliders (PHP 195 for 2 pcs), which has T.E. Sweet Spice, Crispy Pickled Slaw, Cilantro Aioli stuffed in Brioche Buns, is my favorite of all the sliders. Very flavorful, these sliders have a distinct kick, which sets them apart from the usual beef burgers. There are plenty of meat burger joints in the country, but not a lot offer chicken burgers. Pound makes chicken burgers quite well, and I can foresee this as being the restaurant’s bestseller.
You know by now that Pound’s burgers and sliders are nothing extravagant, at least price-wise. But if there is one dish in the menu that will make you feel stinking rich, it’s The Pound Burger (PHP 999), made with House Ground Beef Patty, Tomato, Iceberg Lettuce, Crispy Onion, Mustard Relish, T.E. Sauce, Caramelized Onions, and– brace yourselves — 50g Seared Foie Gras and Foie Gras Mousse! Foie gras, which is a delectable and buttery French delicacy, is usually served at high-end restaurants and is an expensive ingredient, hence the higher price of The Pound Burger. But is paying PHP 999 for a burger with foie gras really worth it? That depends on how big of a burger and foie gras fan you are. If you like your burgers big, beefy, and juicy, and if like me, you could eat stacks and stacks of foie gras if only it wasn’t so pricey, then maybe PHP 999 should be a fair amount. The serving is quite big, so it’s sure to make you full. I wish the foie gras could have been a little bigger and there could have been more foie gras mousse, just because they’re so good! I also liked the combination of the crunchiness of the onions and the softness of the foie gras. Yum!
Pound only has one dessert (for now), the T.E. Sundae (PHP 275) — OMG Brownie and Betty White Brownie capped with Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce, and Rock Salt.
Affordable luxury — that is the intention of Pound for their customers. Here, diners can relax, have quality burgers and a few beers, and not have to pay so much yet still feel a sense of sophistication that you don’t often see in the usual casual burger joints.
Pound’s menu and interiors are very basic. They deliberately kept their menu small. Dee explains that instead of having multiple things that he can miss out on, and have 20 items on the menu but only 2 of them are good, he would rather have 4 or 5 items but all executed excellently. He wants to make sure that everything is done perfectly, as far as cooking the burger, frying the onions, or toasting the buns are concerned. They will, however, have a specials board for things not found in the menu, such as the Portobello Burger, which is a bit on the pricey side. Dee explains, “If I put it there [on the menu], the scale will look kind off odd. You’ll have a 195-peso burger there and then suddenly, a 500-peso burger that doesn’t even have meat!” They will be running their blackboard specials every month for items like these. They are also looking into adding pastas in the menu, but the menu will still remain simple and uncomplicated. Think Butchers’ Club in Hong Kong, which only sells burgers.
Just like the simple menu, the interiors of Pound are also bare-bones. It has that dirty and grungy look but still classy. Everything is left exposed, including the pipes and the cooks’ open kitchen.
Pound by Todd English opens to the public TODAY, February 5! And as an opening treat, from February 5 to 10, they are inviting everyone to sample their dishes and #PayWhatYouWant. LITERALLY. “As in, I can get burgers for PHP 20?” you ask? Absolutely! Everything on the menu can be yours for ANY amount that you want to shell out, with the exception of The Pound Burger. Nothing is free in this world, but this is just as good as free! Follow @pound_ph on Instagram for more updates!