Banilad Town Center, popularly known as BTC, is one of Cebu’s premier lifestyle destinations. Aside from a good mix of shops and boutiques, it also offers a wide array of themed bars and restaurants. And among the dining destinations on this side of the metro, a standout for us is Ampersand.
Being both a bar and a restaurant, Ampersand (&) which is a symbol that represents conjunction is an apt name for this elegant and modern dining and chill-out place.
Inspired by the individuality, creativity and cultural heritage of cuisines from around the globe, Ampersand boasts a collection of sumptuous dishes using only quality and the most authentic ingredients.
Ampersand Bar and Restaurant opened in 2014 with the simple concept of serving the finest fresh food and offering the best array of drinks that Cebuanos deserve. Despite Cebu having numerous hang-out places all over the city, an exceptional blend of a bar and restaurant was unheard of at that time. Now, with its innovative dishes and trendy ambiance, Ampersand is set to redefine quality casual dining experience.
Under the leadership of Chandra Mercado and Tom Hines, Ampersand is committed to preparing sumptuous and satisfying dishes which are carefully hand made to their guests’ specifications, using only the freshest and quality ingredients. Each dish is individually crafted, to say.
Ampersand believes that creativity is the key to attracting a strong and loyal customer base. Innovation is what guides them to become better each time they create something
Last week, we were lucky to be invited by Chandra together with a few Cebu Bloggers Society members and the media to experience a delightful feast of their scrumptious dishes and refreshing cocktails.
From spicy and savory to light and healthy, Ampersand has the taste for all occasions. It offers dishes, sandwiches, salads, and soups inspired by cuisines from around the globe. Complementing their offerings is a wide selection of drinks and cocktail mix from their modern and trendy bar.
For starters, we had Crab and Artichoke Arancini. It’s Fried Risotto balls stuffed with Citrus Crab filling. We liked that it was fried to deep golden brown perfection and it wasn’t oily at all.
Then, we were served Sizzling Balut. For those who are not familiar with balut, it is a fertilized duck egg that is incubated for 14 to 21 days and then boiled or steamed. Its contents are usually eaten directly from the shell. It’s an exotic dish and a common street food in the Philippines.
Ampersand’s version of the balut was posh. It was served unshelled on a sizzling plate. Replacing the salt and or chili and garlic vinegar to season the balut, Ampersand used lots of spices (bell pepper, green chilis, onions) to make it flavorful. The partially developed embryo bones of the balut were soft enough to chew and swallow. This dish is a mouthwatering twist on the street food that Filipinos are used to.
After the spicy and savory Sizzling balut, we moved on to Kinilaw. This is one of Gi’s favorite from the lunch line-up we had. I liked that it was not too acidic. The sweet mangoes balanced out the sourness of the dish. Not only Ampersand’s kinilaw looked beautiful, it also tasted really good.
After the refreshing Kinilaw, we then devoured Ampersand’s Slab of Bacon which was served on a sizzling plate. The meat was tender and juicy, sweet and savory. The lean-to-fat ratio was just right. It’s a heavenly plate for meat lovers.
Next on the line-up was Chicken Curry Marinara. Al dente flat pasta with breaded chicken on the side. We loved that the curry flavor on the pasta wasn’t overpowering.
After the heavy pasta meal, we sampled two varieties of their flat bread— BBQ Pulled Pork and Pineapple (Slow braised Pulled pork in Ampersand BBQ sauce and Pineapple in flat bread) and Gravlax (House cured Salmon, Cream Cheese and Dill in flat bread). Pizza fanatics would relish Ampersand’s appetizing flat bread. The Pulled Pork variety was sweet and savory while the Gravlax was smooth and creamy.
Next dish was Ampersand’s Smoked Baby Back Ribs. It was juicy and fall-off-the-bone soft. It’s served with Herb Vegetable rice and corn. Another dish that would make any meat lover squirm to satisfaction.
After what seemed to be a very lengthy lunch, we’re down to our last three dishes : Slow Braised Lamb Shank, 1/2 Roasted Chicken, and Chorizo Risotto Nero.
The Braised Lamb Shank is one of the many interesting dishes they have on their menu. It’s served with Rosemary potatoes. The lamb meat was tender and juicy. The roasted chicken has chili aglio olio sauce and seasonal vegetables. The Chorizo Risotto Nero was dark and sinfully good. The cuttlefish ink risotto had chorizo, prawns, squid and creamed spinach. For those who have adventurous and bold palette, this dish is a must try.
After the sumptuous feast, we were served with Ampersand’s delectable desserts : Green Tea Yoghurt Cheesecake, Leche Flan Trinity and Chocolate Custard Brazo de Mercedes.
For those who are not so fond of sweets, you can enjoy the tangy flavor of Ampersand’s Green Tea Yoghurt Cheesecake which was really smooth and creamy. We also sampled their Leche Flan Trinity. It was named as such because of the three leche flan flavors served in a long dessert platter : Original, Chocolate and Almond, and Strawberry leche flan. Amongst the three, my personal favorite was the Strawberry. The caramel sauce was smooth and the flan was creamy. Everybody liked that it wasn’t too sweet.The third dessert we tasted was their newest creation, Chocolate Custard Brazo de Mercedes. It was a delightful twist to the Brazo de Mercedes we’re used to. Sticky, thick and creamy chocolate custard filling oozed in between layers of soft pillowy meringue. It was such a heavenly treat!
REFRESHING COCKTAILS AND COOLERS
Aside from the exquisite dishes that you can sample at Ampersand, they also offer a wide variety of cocktails. A few of Ampersand’s must try cocktails are : Cebu Sour – a tasteful concoction of Mango Juice Cardamon Syrup, Egg White Bourbon and Whisky, Who’s Your Daddy? – a playful mixture of Espresso, Don Papa Rum, Soursop Puree, Roasted Coffe Citrus Bitters and Gingerbread Syrup, and Duterte – strong yet smooth like our President Rodrigo Duterte, this drink is a mix of 1800 Reposado Tequila, Caramel Syrup, and Angostura Bitters.
Overall, Ampersand is a good place to be merry and full, may it be an intimate date, catching up with friends or a dinner shared with the whole family. With a modern and chic ambiance, scrumptious dishes and refreshing cocktails, Ampersand easily makes it to our well-recommended bar and restaurants.
Ampersand has five other sister restaurants which are all located in Metro Manila: Catch, Hooch, Poulet Manille, Ebeneesers and Smith Butcher and Grill. Each resto has its own unique theme and offerings.
For inquiries and reservations, you can contact them at 032-416-1233 or +63-943-498-1744 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
AMPERSAND | Bar and Restaurant
G/F Banilad Town Center
Gov. Cuenco Avenue
Banilad, Cebu City, 6000