Monday, February 2, 2009

Quick Bites: Filling Station

Diner food is highly under-estimated. These are easily passed-off as greasy, on-the-go grub for blue-collar Americans and 24-hour breakfast fare, when it has actually evolved into something more.

The bigger American cities have become cultural melting pots, playing host to a multitude of nationalities from every continent. On my last few visits to the States, I noticed that it is quite common to see in a diner menu (which are normally almost as thick as the yellow pages) a whole roster of ethnic cuisine (Greek, Italian, even Chinese) alongside the American classics. The portions are naturally American (large enough to feed a family of four average-sized Filipinos), but the flavors, in most cases, are pretty authentic.

In the Philippines, we seldom see a diner that stays true to its red-white-and-blue roots in terms of flavor and magnitude. The James Dean posters and Marilyn Monroe busts (and by "busts" I mean life-size sculptures of a person's head and shoulders. Dirty dog.) are there, but the food is oftentimes poorly-executed versions of the originals. There is one diner, though, where the food stands out amidst the clutter of American pop culture memorabilia.

After a quick round of wedding-related chores, Matt and I were ready for a quick afternoon snack. Leaving our car in front of a florist’s shop we visited, we crossed Makati Avenue and strolled down the lively Burgos St. area of bars and clubs. Filling Station Diner is right smack in the middle of them all.

The main dining area is on the second floor, and like any of those American-themed restaurants, the place is floor-to-ceiling Americana: from the vinyl hanging on the walls to the classic gas pump that Matt was seated next to. The d├ęcor was over the top kitsch, but fun, nonetheless.

Looking through the extensive selection of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and main courses, I settled on something new on their menu- Mini Tacos (small crispy tortilla shells filled with ground beef, salsa, cheese and sour cream, accompanied by a spicy fresh salsa). The dish seemed more like an appetizer, but a good-enough snack for someone who is not famished. The tortilla was crispy, the filling of ground beef generous and flavorful. The side of fresh salsa was light and just moderately spicy, using green local chilis instead of Jalapenos. It didn’t matter to me, it was still good.

Matt picked the Chicken Pesto Grilled Sandwich (grilled whole chicken breast with cheese and pesto mayonnaise in sliced focaccia bread, with a side of French fries and more pesto mayonnaise), which came highly-recommended by some friends who frequent Filling Station for their after-party food-binges. True to form, this sandwich is big and rich enough to fill up a hungry, inebriated male- the slices of chicken breast are huge, the local cheddar cheese (a.k.a Quick Melt) oozing out as you squeeze the crispy grilled bread together. This had Matt immediately smitten.

I wish I could come here late at night for those after-drinking munchies, but the waitress from before admitted that it could get pretty rowdy during those hours. Matt even noticed that the servers are presently all-male, while the females are safely behind counters as cashiers and bartenders. A direct result of those “rowdy” nights, I suppose?

Despite the rep, I still like coming to Filling Station for its playful atmosphere and tasty International cuisine. I like it when restaurants commit to a concept and execute it wonderfully.

I need a milkshake…

Filling Station Diner
Burgos St.
(Between Makati
and Kalayaan Aves.)
Makati City
Tel. no. (832) 8972053


Miguel said...

Been there once - they even had a branch in Alabang some time ago.

The Tacos and the Grilled chicken Pesto look good ....

Chinkee said...

Hi Mig! The food there's surprisingly good. Not sure about the other dishes, but so far the ones I have tried are not bad.

Noel said...

Both you and Mig have just posted on two restaurants I used to take my children to when they were very young. This one, I would take them to the one in Filinvest (Filinvest was still new). My 3rd son wasn't even born yet, my first two were below 5 years old at the time.

They used to get a kick out of sitting in the vintage car seats, the foot-long hotdogs and giant milkshakes. I remember I'd get the chilidog.

Almost forgot all about that time, they're so big already. Thanks for reminding me.



Chinkee said...

Hi Noel!

Don't mention it... I also have wonderful food memories from way back. There are just so many, I've lost count. But whenever one of them crops up, it always gives my a nice, fuzzy feeling. Can't wait to make my own food memories with my future family.:-)