The Pantry

DUSIT THANI MANILA, LIKE MANY OTHER HOTELS IN THE CITY’S CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, IS A LANDMARK. Its sleek facade is part of our collective memory, partly because so many of us have spent hours staring at it while stuck in traffic. Perhaps it’s only timely, with traffic worsening and the Makati skyline getting more congested, that the hotel decided to update its interiors with a warmer, homier feel, while retaining its quiet, luxurious vibe.

The most obvious change so far is The Pantry, which takes the place of the swanky ground-level Lounge. What used to be a whiskey and cigar place is now a brightly lit, cafe-style (think blonde wood, pastel birdcages and wall-to-wall typography) restaurant that boasts, of all things, a sustainable buffet. Farm-to-fork is the term that Dusit Thani Manila New Media Officer Johanna Perez uses to describe The Pantry, which is establishing and growing relationships with various small-scale local farmers and food artisans. As of this writing, half of the hotel’s rooms have also been updated with a lighter palette and airier floor plan. It’s clear that luxury is no longer the sole domain of marble, steel and as a popular juice bar and dessert section. The latter is another must-stop for diners as the homemade gelato particularly the divine caramel sea salt and refreshing pistachio flavors is the perfect way to end a large meal.

THE RIGHT STUFF

Apart from the aforementioned lechon, other delicious, fork-tender meats are definite highlights. The adobo braised short ribs melt in your mouth and is best eaten with slices of piquant green mangoes and as much white rice as your diet will let you get away with. Fans of brisket will be happy to know that The Pantry smokes them for up to eight hours and then slow cooks them for another ten, resulting in an intensely flavored, hearty dish that as a delightfully tasty menu that changes according to season and availability.

Part of Dusit’s progressive F&B direction is having vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free and Halal sections (the latter two even have their own kitchens). But all this doesn’t mean it’s not, you know, fun. At the center of the space is a lechon pit, probably the only hotel in the country with one, where four to five and up to eight on weekends suckling pigs are roasted for six hours at a time. Apart from the de rigueur Italian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, The Pantry also has choice Vietnamese and Indian dishes, as well begs to be eaten with mouthfuls of tangy slaw which they have of course.

Pizza will forever be in vogue with Filipinos, and it’s such a travesty when lousy renditions are served in big-time hotels. Thankfully, The Pantry does it right by utilizing a brick oven to cook the pizzas, creating a perfectly charred, crunchy crust that reveals a pillowy soft middle. As for the pastas, we particularly recommend the marinara, which is cooked al dente, accompanied by a simple yet flavorful sauce and is chock-full of plump morsels of fish and seafood.

The Pantry marks a big change for the Dusit Thani Manila, which for decades has been known for its formal, no-nonsense ambiance. The more ebullient and casual bent of the buffet, which is now attracting more families and casual get-togethers, is among the landmarks that brand is mapping out as it forges a new path, creating brand new memories for generations to come.

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