Whisk up 22 floors at Alabang-based luxury hotel The Bellevue Manila and you’ll find yourself at Vue, a signature bar known for live music and dancing. Walk pass the heavy red interiors until you reach the end of the corridor, where a large door with a sign reading Cellar 22 sits. Upon opening it, you will be captivated with the sight, and not just because of the panoramic views of the busy city below, but the interiors itself are impressive. Shelves upon shelves of beer kegs, fine wine and good liquor, leather-upholstered seating, industrial fixtures at the bar, and an extra-large clock occupying most of the wall, are just a few things that make Cellar 22’s gastro bar experience unique. The food to pair with your premium cocktail is yet another story.
A Gentleman’s Hideout
Cellar 22 is the brainchild of Patrick Chan, the Bellevue Manila’s Managing Director. The new bar is far from the traditional speakeasy. They rid of any notion that a gentleman’s hideout should be decorated with classical fixtures, along the line of tailoring shops at Saville Row in London. Instead, they fill the space up with sleek, modern furniture and embellishments that help set it apart from the rest. Described as a nice place to “hang out with your brothers”, have a business meeting, or simply enjoy drinks with your friends, Cellar 22 puts you in the mood simply by sitting there. Lined along the walls are liquors of all sort (which also serves as the bar’s stock), metal barb cages act as wall divisions, and wine crates and barrels, which are casually scattered all over the space.
At the center of the room is a wall made entirely of beer kegs. Cellars are conventionally places that house wine and rare spirits, but at Cellar 22, they celebrate beer, “the ultimate man’s drink”. Choose a seat by the floor to ceiling windows as soon as the bar opens at 5PM to enjoy a good view of the city covered in the golden sunset. For bigger groups, long tables are located at the center of the pub. On the second floor there is a smoking area, with an equally impressive view.
Elevated Bar Chow
Although Cellar 22 offers numerous cocktails and beverage options, they truly flourish in their food selections, which they call “elevated bar chow.” Chef Stephan Oppenhagen, the Bellevue Hotels and Resorts’ Group Executive Chef, has curated a fine menu worth talking about. The multi-award winning chef has an impressive resume, cooking in numerous 5-star restaurants and hotels in Europe and South East Asia before joining the Bellevue.
In the vein of bar chow (easy food to eat while drinking), most plates at Cellar 22 are small. Although small, they are all very flavorful. For instance, it was a surprise to see a bar offering Japanese Kobe Beef on their menu. It is served as a generous portion, and is paired with an in-house gravy that complements the fatty beef quite well. The bar provides diners with long sticks that make eating the Kobe beef very easy to eat. Although it is premium food fare, eating it with such an instrument makes it fun, just what it ought to be (even in a bar located at a five-star establishment).
Other gastronomic offerings include the Fried Mussels with Coconut Sauce and Spanish Tuna. The former is a personal favorite. The shell of each fried mussel acts like a makeshift spoon, and it is a pleasure to take a large dip into the rich coconut sauce and then slurping it up in one gulp. On the other hand, the Spanish Tuna almost has a sashimi-like texture, but is balanced well with a serving of toasted bread topped with black olives. It is tapas done right. A prawn dish is also available for consumption. It is accompanied with parmesan flavored rice and a red wine reduction. Lastly, if you’re up for a platter of different international flavors, try the Cellar Journey, a plate that consists of little nibbles inspired by Japan, Thailand and Mexico.
For those with a sweet tooth, Cellar 22 has not forgotten you. Their selection of desserts has been well-curated for discriminating dinners and drinkers. Order the Macaron platter for four different flavors that include apricot, pistachio, coconut and chocolate. The typically palm-sized confection has been super-sized, and is almost as big as the hand. Alcohol-infused desserts are also available. The Whiskey Tart is a whiskey-flavored vanilla mouse, served with a special sauce, sweet yolk sauce, caramelized hazelnut, and a very strong whiskey-infused jelly to provide just the proper kick. Wash it all down with another staff-recommended cocktail, and you’re good to go for a peaceful night’s rest.
A good place to get away from the busy streets of Manila and the crowded bars of Makati, the Bellevue Manila’s Cellar 22 provides a luxurious atmosphere, all in thanks to its beautiful interiors, good service, and delicious food and beverage options. It is worth returning to this hideout in the sky and enjoy life the way it should be—full and happy!
Cellar 22 is located at the 22nd floor of The Bellevue Manila, North Bridgeway, Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
Photography by Miguel Abesamis