This is Savage—classy, bougie, ratchet

Published June 10, 2021, 8:01 PM

by Jules Vivas

Chef Josh Boutwood brings back Savage, his unique dining concept in Taguig, with new and improved dishes

MUSSEL POWER Savage’s Chilean mussel deserves an award

While fire exists in nature, such as in volcanoes and thunder, the use of fire has been godsend to humanity for hundreds and thousands of years. It was our first great innovation, one of our earliest steps into civilization. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole flames from the gods and gave it to man. Science tells us that fire was first discovered when lighting struck a forest and burned wood. Through phylogenetic analysis, we learn that our ancestors possibly invented cooking some 1.8 to 2.3 million years ago. In the pre-historic period, those who commanded fire wielded power.

Flames, wood, and charcoal. Chef Josh Boutwood needs only these key elements to conquer the local culinary scene with the innovative dining concept behind his restaurant Savage in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). The Filipino-British restaurateur, who has recently been included in the international restaurant guide La Liste’s 2021 awards as one of the Young Talents of the Year, is on fire.

His brainchild first came about in 2018. Because of the global health emergency, however, Chef Josh had to temporary close up shop for a little over a year. And yet like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Savage is reborn and it’s better than before.

Chef Josh describes his homegrown brand as the counterpart of another one of his restaurants, The Test Kitchen, which is elevated and fine dining. Those who know the young cuisinier would agree that Savage is a perfect reflection of his personality. No frills, no bull. The 34-year-old culinary genius is simple, straightforward, with an all-consuming and intense passion for good food. These are exactly what his casual restaurant is all about.

At Savage, creative and delicious fares are cooked through primeval methods—no gas, no electric stoves, just Chef Josh, his mastery of flames, and the aid of his trusted team (Jessica, Kristen, Edward, Justin, and Melanie) who have been with him since day one. True to his style, he brings focus to ingredients and cooking techniques.

Some of the offerings have been improved, like the Chilean mussels, which is hands down the best seafood starter on the menu. It is so good that having this dish alone is a satisfying meal on its own. Before the lockdown, the mussels were made in Asian style with galangal ginger, lime leaf, Thai basil, chili, and fish sauce. It is currently done the European way.

ON FIRE Chef Josh Boutwood

“I was struck with nostalgia ’cause my mom used to do it at her restaurant. She would just chop parsley in her mussels,” intimates Chef Josh. “Since the pandemic, I haven’t seen my family for a year and a half now, so I felt nostalgic and decided to do something that my mom used to cook.”

The mussels are thoroughly cleaned, then cooked over embers with sautéed garlic and onions in white wine, parsley oil meticulously prepared for two days, mussel juice, and cream. Grilled sourdough slices complement the plate, served as they are with the mussels, partly dipped in the flavorful sauce, making it filling enough to be considered a main dish.

Some items from the menu are also retained—the barramundi, one of the bestsellers, for instance. Light and flaky, this whole grilled Asian seabass is seasoned just right with preserved lemon and crushed kalamata olives, both of which add a bit of tang to the buttery, slightly sweet white meat.

The fish is brined, preserved in ice cold water for an hour, drained, then steeped overnight in Chef Josh’s signature marinate for seafood that he calls M3, a mix of parsley, lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper. This painstaking process is what makes the grilled barrumundi extra tasty. “Much like in all of my restaurants, preparation is a killer,” Chef Josh adds.

Along with the mussels, the tuna collar is one of Chef Josh’s favorites on the menu. “Tuna collar is so robust and there are so many areas of the collar you can really get into. They’re all different flavors,” he says. The collar that’s grilled over oakwood, he explains, is good for sharing with groups or friends. The fermented soy bean emulsion makes the dish even more delectable.

MIGHTY MEATY Bone in ribeye 1.2kg steak

‘Since the pandemic, I haven’t seen my family for a year and a half now, so I felt nostalgic and decided to do something that my mom used to cook.’

Among the noteworthy sides to try is the the crushed potatoes with flying fish roe that bursts as you chew, creating a sensational mouth feel. The explosion of the roe adds to the texture of the mashed tuber.

TATER LATER Crushed potatoes with flying fish roe

Other dishes worth trying are the bone in ribeye, a whopping 1.2 kilogram steak, dry-aged for 28 days, grilled over oak and charcoal, then finished with smoked butter and sea salt. The serving is so big that two or more adults can share the dish.

Indoor, Savage allows 30 percent capacity on the second floor, which should be able to accommodate up to 10 persons, while al fresco dining can seat 50 percent or 15 to 20 diners. It is partnering with Grab and Foodpanda soon for hassle-free deliveries within a radius of six to seven kilometers from the restaurant.

Savage is at the Plaza, Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway, Taguig, Metro Manila. It is open for dinner, from Thursday to Saturday, from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., as well as for lunch on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for dinner, from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. | | 09153339546