I finally got to try the hottest restaurant in town tonight, Black Bird– Chef Colin MacKay’s latest outpost at the Nielson Tower by Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati. (Case in point, I bumped into loads of people I knew just even by the lobby entrance; while eating; and even my own brother and cousins when I was on my way out!)
A bit of a background: The Nielson Tower is historical– it was where the first ever Philippine Airlines flight (to Baguio, carrying 9 passengers) departed with the Beech Craft Model 18. With the outbreak of the World War II, the Nielson Tower became the US Far East Air Force Headquarters. The Japanese then bombed the runways in 1941 and became their headquarters for the duration of their occupation. It was later on refurbished by Philippine Airlines becoming the official port of entry to the Philippines. In 1948, the airport ceased operations when PAL relocated to Pasay City and the land was returned to Ayala. Much of the airport structure was sacrificed and developed into Makati Central Business District. The airport passenger terminal and control tower were preserved , and became collectively known as the Nielson Tower– the only pre-World War II structures in Makati!
Today, it is now Black Bird— a restaurant, lounge and bar, that preserves the original Art Deco design, helmed by Scottish chef Colin MacKay. (The name Black Bird was taken from a plane he was fascinated with as a child.) His other restaurants Sala, Sala Bistro and People’s Palace are classic favorites that I visit regularly, and I’ve actually written about them in my Best of Manila guide for CNN Travel.
I went with one of my really good friends who never fails to remind me to be in the present– therefore, I kept my phone on Flight Mode (just because my silent function doesn’t work, but I just realized, how very apt for dinner at a former airport– and now made to resemble a plane!) and just enjoyed the food. (Aka, I didn’t stop to think and dissect every bite into microscopic detail, and I enjoyed my meal as a normal human being and not as a food journalist). All I can say is that it’s the hottest restaurant right now– for a reason– not just because it’s new, but because it’s really good. You get the same service at Colin’s other restaurants, and as for the food, I would personally describe it as Sala + Sala Bistro x People’s Palace (^ Southeast Asian influences) = Black Bird. And all of us know that none of Colin’s restaurants fall into the trendy kind of hot that have an expiration date– rather, they become reliable classics that stand the test of time. (Sala was the longest-running fine dining restaurant in Malate before its move to Makati, after all!) I urge you all to come for a visit, and guarantee all the dishes I post on this blog are incredible and won’t disappoint! xx
Black Bird is located at Nielson Tower at Ayala Triangle Garden (across the Peninsula Manila’s Escolta entrance). It is open daily from 11 AM to 2 AM. For reservations, phone +632) 828 4888.