Chef Colin MacKay’s Black Bird has landed.. at the Nielson Tower, Makati

The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it's a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it's a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating

I finally got to try the hottest restaurant in town tonight, Black BirdChef 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!)

The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it's a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it's a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating
The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it’s a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating
The entrance to the main dining are of Black Bird.. it’s a HUGE space, with both indoor and outdoor seating

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

View of the main dining area at Black Bird from thetop
View of the main dining area at Black Bird from the  second floor or “cockpit”– top. These are the “right and left wings.”
Black Bird Nielsen Tower Makati 3
Where we sat: the more private dining lounge on the second floor, designed to resemble a cockpit, that that fits 22 people. It’s the former control tower and the best place to sit as it’s most private. Although you’ll have to go up and down a winding spiral staircase everytime you want to go to the toilet!
These are the freaking most amazing appetizers you MUST order!!! Prawn Scotch eggs with betel leaves and coconut chili sambal (P280)… roll everything into the betel leaves and eat all together.. it’ll blow your mind. The combination of Thai and English flavors are just exquisite.
Black Bird Scottish Eggs
It’s so good, it deserves a post on it’s own. This is so good! Order it!
Twice Coooked Beef Short Ribs- Black Bird, Nielsen Tower, Makati
Super tender short ribs slightly charred on top, served with a hot and sour salad, and sweet fish sauce. (P680). My spice tolerance is high but this can be a bit spicy, so I washed it down with a gorgeous pinot noir
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Light, fresh and perfect– Paper thin beef carpaccio, artichoke, horseradish, rocket parmesan (P580)
Sauteed Slipper Lobster- Black Bird, Nielsen Tower, Makati
Sauteed Slipper Lobster, Tomato Provancal, Butter and Fries (P1480)– fries were substituted for buttered vegetables.. lobster was tender, juicy and delicious
Cheesecake- Black Bird, Nielsen Tower, Makati
I forget the complete name but it’s the only cheesecake on the menu and it was incredible.. topped with caramelized bananas and butterscotch, that the only reason you would share is because you are watching your calorie intake
Had Delamotte Brut champagne throughout most of the evening, as we normally do in Sala. But tonight, decided to try an after-dinner cocktail... I forget the name exactly but it had grandma and apple in it... pretty good, I must say!
Had copious amounts of Delamotte Brut champagne throughout the evening, as we normally do in Sala. But tonight, decided to try an after-dinner cocktail… I forget the name exactly but it had grandma and apple in it… pretty good, I must say!

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. 

4 Comments

  1. Nice bumping into you last night Cheryl! We ordered totally different things- I agree with you, saw so many people there and the food was delicious. Happy for a special new resto to eat at in town. xx

  2. You’re spot on with regards the scotch eggs on betel leaves.. delicious! By the way, I hope you don’t mind but its not Nielsen Towers.. it is Nielson Towers.

    Very nice post; I enjoyed reading it.

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