My 1st time at 2nd’s (restaurant review)

I had an opportunity to eat at 2nd’s recently during a work-related event. I have to admit, I’d never heard of the place before so I didn’t know what to look forward to. I didn’t even know what the place looked like from the outside; my co-worker and I actually missed it on the first try.

As a testament to the “looks can be deceiving” aphorism, 2nd’s is located at the second floor of a building you probably wouldn’t even notice unless you were looking for it. One of the owners, BJ Albert, who accommodated us during the event, said people are often surprised to find this hole-in-the-wall hidden behind such a plain facade.

2nd’s is a comforting little nook decorated throwback-style, melding photos of pop culture icons (Bob Dylan and Alfred Hitchcock, to name a few) with books and lamps from the homes of the owners themselves. And taking you back (even if you’re not old enough to know exactly when ‘back’ is) in the best way possible is their choice of music, which ranged from The Beatles to Nancy Sinatra. “We don’t play anything past the ’60s,” BJ said. Good man.

2nds - Shelf

From the pre-selected list of dishes (which they said were their bestsellers), I ordered Red Horse Fish and Chips, and indulged myself in their famous Bacon Chicharon while I waited. In case you’ve never heard of them, Bacon Chicharon are these crispy strips of battered and deep fried bacon served with muscovado honey mustard and spiced vinegar (which I preferred over the former). According to BJ, they lessened the guilt by trimming off the fat, though I personally think it would’ve been better with it on, and it could’ve used a bit more salt.

Bacon Chicharon

At last, the waiter set down a chopping board loaded with my order, which, as it turns out, can be shared by 2-3 people (or eaten by one if you like your food in last-meal portions). I love that the dory was crisply cooked on the darker side of golden brown. Each strip was covered lightly (not caked) with batter and did not taste fishy at all. Seasoned in a way that they could stand on their own, they’re still served with a saucer each of vinegar and dill aioli. I know that fish and chips are typically eaten with vinegar, but for some reason that style didn’t fly with me. I could hardly taste the fish after dipping it in there, so (early apologies to British fish-and-chips connoisseurs who are turning their noses up while reading this) ixnay on the inegar-vay for me. The chips (or fries, if you prefer) I thought were nice and crispy as well. I like the light dusting of spices, though again it’s another thing that they could’ve added some more salt to. Sadly, I didn’t get to finish my food. It was great, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t eat like I’m on death row.

2nds - Fish and Chips
Red Horse Fish and Chips (There was a lot more on my plate than this)

Next came dessert. They gave us a choice between granny smith apple crumble and a basil sorbet, and BJ also recommended the red velvet ice cream. I love apple crumble so that was a no-brainer. It came in another for-sharing serving size set in a terracotta dish and topped with a scoop of ice cream. The well-cooked apples had a great balance of sweet and sour, and were greatly complemented by the crunchy crumble layer. One thing I found a bit strange was that they left the skin on the apple slices. It wasn’t completely unpleasant but it will take some getting used to. Otherwise, the warm-and-cold dessert was a satisfying final note to the meal.

All in all, it was a great experience. The food, very much like the decor, was homey and comforting, with a welcome zing of the unexpected. I’ll definitely be back for more. Or for seconds, so to speak.

Overall rating:

2nds
2/F Quadrant 3, Bonifacio High Street, BGC, Taguig, Metro Manila

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