Heartbreak at Barley Gastropub

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A nation’s collective hopes were dashed last Wednesday, 3 September 2014 when the Philippine National Mens Basketball Team (given the nickname Gilas Pilipinas) lost to Puerto Rico by two points after establishing what was thought to be a commanding twelve-point lead at the end of the first quarter of their World Cup of Basketball group game. Having recently moved to Quezon City, A and I decided to watch the game at the nearby Barley Gastropub, which was only around a kilometer or so away from our house.

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It turned out that a Filipino loss wasn’t the only disappointment to be suffered that night. I was looking forward to celebrating a Pilipinas win with some tasty Pinoy craft beers from such favorites as Katipunan Craft Ales, Craftpoint Brewing Company or Xavierbier, but alas, the bar was all out of stock (purportedly, a restock order had not yet been placed, and the stash had just run out the previous night). I decided to make do with what they had, ordering a craft ginger ale from Stanford X Shaw Brewing (serve by 9-2-2-14, the bottle said, but I let that pass as the ginger ale still tasted alright). I wanted some bourbon for the ginger ale, but the bar did not stock any, so I decided to just order a Red Horse and make a sort of beer cocktail. Not the ideal drink for the night, but the delicious ginger ale saved it.

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We ordered their honey-barbecue chicken wings, which was among the best I’ve tried. I’m not a fan of honey sauces with chicken, but this changed my mind, and I would definitely order this again (and again). A malt-forward pale ale or IPA comes to mind as a good beer match, such as Katipunan’s Indio or Xavierbier’s Pugaw.

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They also had an interesting take on sisig, as it was served with roasted bone marrow, which the waiter spoons out of the bone and mixes into the dish at the table. This added touch of presentation was well-appreciated, as were all the glorious fat and offal involve. This would be a go-to order for me, if not for the fact that I probably lost a month or so of my projected lifespan in one sitting. I am definitely looking forward to the next time I get to taste this, though. Hopefully, paired with a nicely balanced IPA, or maybe Craftpoint’s Liberation, or the 10-hop IPA that they recently gave a limited release of.

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Still hungry after initially ordering the first two dishes, and in desperate need of a starch to go with the sisig, we ordered the Skillet Fries, which again, was not quite what we expected — factory-cut and frozen french fries drizzled with cheese and sour cream then topped with bacon, as promised — but after how impressed we were with the first two items we ordered, this was quite underwhelming. Hand-cut, thick-cut fries would definitely have elevated this one.

This was a depressing night on several counts, with the loss to Puerto Rico eliminating the Philippines from progressing into the knockout rounds of the World Cup. That I could not drown my sorrows in good Filipino craft beer was likewise a downer, and the superstitious sports fan in me is tempted to draw a link between the two. That said, the food was superb for the most part (two out of three dishes tried were definitely outstanding), and after a night like that night, we just take what silver linings we can get. I’m still looking forward to when Barley has craft in stock again and sample the food and beer together.

Congrats to the boys of Gilas on a good run, though. The heart was there, but the execution and confidence seemed a bit lacking, and injuries to arguably their biggest “spark” players (Castro and Pingris) really hurt the team. I will leave my frustrations about iso-Blatche, Norwood’s ill-advised cross-court passes and the lack of a single play in the playbook for my non-existent basketball blog

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