From breakfast to after-dinner drinks, all in one sitting

Published November 14, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

The Raintree Hospitality Group’s new restaurant in BGC is poised to redefine dining in the new normal

Photos by the author.

A RESTAURANT, TAVERN, BAKERY, GROCERY, ALL IN ONE Exterior of Jones All Day at Serendra, BGC, Taguig

Filipinos love breakfast. As an agricultural country, farmers in the provinces would wake up before the crack of dawn to tend to their lands, which is why starting the day early and with a hearty morning meal has been inculcated in Pinoy culture.

Who wouldn’t want to greet the day with a warm cup of coffee, fresh-from-the-oven pan de sal (bread), and the traditional silog, garlic fried rice, egg, and ulam or mains like tapa (cured beef), longanisa, or bangus on a single plate?

A Filipino breakfast is worth rolling out of bed for. So, it comes as no surprise that there are so many all-day breakfast diners in the Philippines. In fact, among the rare establishments born amid the pandemic is an all-day breakfast diner, and not just any other run-of-the-mill restaurant, mind you, but the all-day breakfast diner to rule them all—Jones All Day!

SOME OF THE BEST BREADS IN BGC The bakery area by the entrance, next to the Jones Grocer

Residents of Serendra, in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig have been blessed with Jones All Day bistro and café’s recent opening on the ground floor of the complex. The launch was perfectly timed for Metro Manila’s lowering of quarantine classification to alert level 2.

Businesses have been closing left and right because of COVID-19. Few companies persist and manage to survive the challenge of the times, one of which is the Raintree Hospitality Group, responsible for Provodore, Saboten, Chotto Matte, Friends & Family, Stella wood-fired pizza, Terraz, Chacha’s Beach Café, Izakaya Sensu, the Coconut Club, The Farmer’s Table, and now Jones All Day.

In a brunch with Raintree Hospitality Group’s owner Martin Wisniewski and corporate chef Kalel Chan, I was able to learn about Jones All Day and its exquisite food. We were joined by Manila Bulletin Lifestyle editor AA Patawaran, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo general manager Nat Lim, Gemma Batoon and Marc Dela Cruz of MG Asia, lifestyle personality Myrza Sison and her husband Andrej Wisniewski who is co-owner of Raintree Hospitality Group with Mrs. W, Annabella Wisniewski, and managing director at GJC Public Relation Gwen Jacinto, in what was one of the best meals I’ve had this year.

INTERIOR GALORE The centerpiece is this beautiful chandelier and enormous potted plant

Jones All Day as Martin puts it, is the granddaughter of Mr. Jones, a rebirth project of the well-known American diner from Greenbelt 5. “We decided to change our previous restaurant [Chelsea Market & Cafe] in this location [Serendra] and people were really still talking about Mr. Jones. But we cannot just bring back a full-on American diner in this space,” says Martin. “Since we’re sort of on our way out of the pandemic, we [Raintree Hospitality Group] wanted to make a place where you can get together with your family.” In essence, it is a non-pretentious get-together café for a Sunday brunch, a casual date, or al-fresco cocktails with friends.

The new restaurant did not inherit the late-’50s, Jetsons-era look of Mr. Jones in Makati, and instead has this homier, more vibrant aesthetic, thanks to its chic design in tangerine motif.

Beyond its relaxing interior, what sets Jones All Day apart from other breakfast diners is that it is a bistro, a grocery store, a café, and a sushi bar, all at once. “You can eat Asian, and see the person next to you eating a steak or a croissant. It’s not limited to Western cuisine, or European coffee shop, or Filipino, it’s much broader,” says chef Kalel, in which Martin interjects, “It’s a ‘neighborhood eatery’ where you can eat food that is approachable, tasty, fast, and easy.”

True enough, there’s great variety on the menu. And what’s even more impressive is, despite the motley of food items, everything is incredibly delectable, each dish a specialty.

For starters, we had the Bistro Salad, a mix of arugula, apple shreds, gorgonzola, Pecorino, candied walnuts, red onions, and berry balsamic. The wholesome and simple bowl is so zippy and delicious I am willing to bet it could appeal even to those who are not a fan of greens.

The sushi counter headed by a chef from Chotto Matte, the famous Japanese back-alley bar of the Raintree Hospitality Group, also in Taguig, serves the freshest seafood, most especially the Aklan oysters that are delivered daily. We were able to try some raw oysters as part of the impressive Jones Seafood Tower that comprises of the shellfish, shrimp cocktail, mussels, salmon, tuna, uni sashimi, coctel de mariscos, spicy tuna dynamite, fresh citrus, corn tortilla chips, nori, and saltine crackers.

The oysters are huge and tasty and, as expected from Panay’s finest, have a tinge of sweet and earthy. And if you’re not a fan of raw oysters, you can opt for the Oyster Escargot, a version cooked with garlic butter. The sashimi, meanwhile, is firm and shiny and has a clean taste, so you know that all of the fish are really fresh.

One of my favorites would be the Tuna Tataki, with its delicate, togarashi-crusted tuna in homemade ponzu made of hard and light citrus, and dynamite sauce. Each bite is a flavorful kick of citrusy and savory. Highly addictive.

Served in a similar plating, the Thai Crudo, white fish with samba paste, Thai basil, kaffir, cilantro, and lime vinaigrette, is equally as good as the tuna.

Of course, their bestsellers are dishes from the breakfast and brunch part of the menu. Adapted from the original store is the Mr. Jones Tapa, a hefty serving of the tapsilog (tapa, sinangag, itlog), with garlic galore, perfect for those with a huge appetite. The A Really Good French Omelette consisting of spinach herb labneh, herb hollandaise, salad, griddled tomatoes, and sourdough, also does justice to its name.

There are Italian staples as well, like the Silk Handkerchief Pasta made of guanciale, butter, organic egg yolks, finished with Malagos Pecorino, and topped with double-smoked bacon, which was gone in a flash; and the Jones Burrata, locally made cheese with roasted pumpkin hummus, pumpkin tahini pasta, cherry tomatoes, pickled pimientos, kale basil pesto, rocket, and sourdough toast on the side. The artisan bread, with its mild tang and chewy texture, was phenomenal. And this was due to the fact that the Raintree Hospitality Group has its own commissary bakery.

“Trends change. People know what good sourdough is, what a good croissant is, so we decided to upgrade our commissary bakery,” says Martin, who focused on improving the quality of their goods prior to going all-in with their delivery services. “We’re expanding our bread line, manganganak at manganganak lang yan (It’ll keep expanding),” adds chef Kalel.

There’s great variety on the menu. What’s even more impressive is, despite the motley of food items, everything is incredibly delectable, each dish a specialty. 

Part of the group’s objective is to go online, of course, but they are doing it right, taking their time to do so. “It takes a lot more effort, logistics, and other factors like the quality of the product. We’re thinking long-term business. We’re not in a rush,” explains Martin.

For dessert, the memorable dish is the Crispy Brioche French Toast. A sweet indulgence of soft but dense brioche baked a la French toast. The flavorful pastry is garnished with three-berry compote, toasted almonds, and crème fraiche.

These dishes are best paired with spirits concocted by Martin himself, such as the day drink Jones’ Bloody Mary, a vodka tomato mix, the Classic Aperol Spritz, the Margarita on the rocks, and the basic gin and tonic with currently three variants to choose from, to name a few. These cocktails are light and mostly sweet. Considered as quarantine beverages, these are the alcohol you drink for long periods while lounging around or eating.

LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST Crispy Brioche French Toast

Similar to their last venture in Tagaytay, The Farmer’s Table, the all-day bistro features a retail space called the Jonesery, which sells locally made and sourced artisanal goods from talented and hardworking small and medium Filipino enterprises.

“We’re lucky that business has returned 50 percent normal,” says chef Kalel. “The light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger and bigger,” furthers Martin. Kalel adds that the next challenge would be how to change the mentality of people because, at the end of the day, we need to go out for our sanity. “COVID is here already and we need to live with it,” ends Martin.

Jones All Day is at the ground floor level of Serendra, BGC, Taguig, open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. | | @JonesAllDayPh