Gourmet Gastropub

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Friday, June 20, 2014

WE'VE heard of restaurants, bars and pubs. But gastropubs are not common in Cebu. What exactly is a gastropub?

Overseas, pubs or public houses started out as places licensed to serve alcohol, where townsfolk congregated. Gastropubs are set apart by the high quality of the beer or food they serve. At Irie Gastropubliko, proprietor and executive chef Jan Rodriguez explains that it’s not just a bar or restaurant. “Our focus here is having the same quality for the food as we do for our drinks.”

Irie is currently the only pub in Cebu serving European, Australian and Japanese artisan or craft beers, which are produced in limited quantities. On June 29, Irie will celebrate its second year of gastronomic food and drinks. They will soon be serving locally brewed craft pale ale, American IPA, American double IPA and stout, making it the first gastropub south of Manila to serve craft beer from tap.


Varied list of beers and cocktails aside, the food items on the menu are just as gastronomic: Oysters with parmesan, gruyere, truffled oil or bacon butter; fries hand-cut from real potatoes; and more gourmet choices that Jan himself designed.

As his favorite burgers are in the US and Singapore, Jan wants to offer really good burgers in Cebu. “The only way to have it is with pure, clean Angus beef,” he says.

Irie’s kitchen has a lot of timers, as Jan insists on perfect timing. He gets beef shipped in from the US and stored in a special chiller. He is just as particular about the steaks: “A good restaurant will never have frozen steaks,” so at Irie, they are also kept chilled, not frozen. There are no binders or extenders used in Irie burger patties, with a flavor and mouth feel that can only come from using pure beef. Non-carnivores will like the Medrano burger, which has a vegetarian burger patty with garlic aioli, red onion and shredded lettuce on brioche buns, with a side of potato shoestring fries.

The kitchen in Irie does not have processed food. The lemonade is made from freshly squeezed lemons, the cheesecake made of real cream cheese. Despite using the best ingredients he can find, Jan keeps his price points reasonable. “I want each and every item on the menu to be really good, but at a price that’s for everyone.”

Jan says of not going with shortcuts and below-par ingredients, “You need to prepare real food with passion.” At Irie, it’s not pub grub, it’s a gastronomic experience.

Irie is located on the ground floor of Skyrise 4, IT Park. They have offers on steak, craft beers, cocktails and oysters on weekdays, so don’t forget to ask the server what the special is when you visit.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 21, 2014.


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