1/11/17–I had been waiting for just the right time to try Bad Saint ever since it earned the #2 spot on Bon Appetit’s ranking of America’s Best New Restaurants 2016 back in August. The small restaurant, which only seats 24 people at a time, does not take reservations…so naturally, this (coupled with the recent national acclaim) led to some pretty substantial lines. After waiting a few months for the hype to die down, a perfect opportunity presented itself–my friend Will and a group of his friends had planned an outing to try it, and it happened to be on a cool and drizzly night in January. When I got the invite from Will, I figured this was as good a chance as ever to try the place while not having to wait in a totally outrageous line. Will and I got there 30 minutes before the restaurant opened for dinner, and there were about 30 people in line ahead of us. When we reached the front, the restaurant was already full for the first seating, so the hostess added us to the list for the later seating and took down a phone number to text us at when our seats were ready. We headed to the cocktail bar next door, Room 11, to occupy ourselves until the restaurant was ready for us.
About an hour and a half later, Will, Mike, Evan and I headed back over to Bad Saint to begin our Filipino food adventure. We decided to order things family style, so that everyone could try a bit of everything. The menu was divided into three sections–Gulay (vegetables and salads), Isda At Iba Pa (fish & more), and Carne (meat). We ordered one of the vegetable dishes, two of the fish dishes, and all (3) of the meat dishes to share. Everyone was served rice on the side.
The first dish to arrive was the Kinilaw Na Pugita, an octopus dish with fingerling potatoes and queen olives. This dish was fresh and acidic, reminding me of a ceviche. I was a big fan of it, although the men were more inclined toward the heavier dishes that were to come later.
Next came the Pancit Molo, i.e. chicken and shrimp dumplings with annatto and scallions. These were superb.
I believe everyone’s favorite dish of the evening was the special of the night–the braised oxtail stew with eggplant and peanut sauce. It came served with a salty, sesame paste on the side. The broth was so incredibly rich and the meat just fell off the bones. We practically licked the bowl at the end to make sure that no broth was left behind. Mike put it pretty well when he exclaimed, “That is the Warren Buffett of Oxtail Soup.”
After the soup came the Ginisang Tulya–littleneck clams in a broth with chinese sausage and coconut milk. It was also served with a plate of fried donuts for dipping in the broth. The clams were a bit chewy, but the donuts dipped in the broth were just divine.
Second favorite dish of the night was the Tocino–BBQ pork, fried egg, and garlic rice. The pork was tender and deliciously sweet and savory at the same time. The flavor of the garlic rice was something I will probably dream about for years to come, but will probably never fully master in my own at-home cooking.
The last dinner dish to arrive was the Pancit Canton–egg noodles with royal trumpet mushrooms and sesame seeds. These appeared to be the Filipino take on sesame noodles. The flavor of the sauce was wonderful, but this dish was more of a filler than a star. I was actually glad it came last so that we hadn’t filled up on noodles before the other dishes arrived.
We all saved just enough room for dessert, and the restaurant made the choice easy on us by only having one dessert offering. It was an apple cinnamon deep-fried egg roll, smothered in a Chinese five spice caramel sauce and topped with micro celery and edible flowers. The sweetness of the dessert was much more subtle than I was expecting. The dessert was just in the “okay” category for me.
Overall assessment–I would absolutely stand in line to eat here again. I would wait in line much longer than 30 minutes to enjoy the oxtail stew, octopus, and BBQ pork another time. Whenever you have time to go early and wait out the line, definitely give this place a try!