Philippines: Bourbon Street

I didn’t intend for the blog to go dark for a couple of weeks; but then, I never intended to have my gallbladder removed either!

Roughly 2 weeks ago, what was initially discomfort quickly turned into intense abdominal and back pain, and I knew I was in trouble. At the hospital, an ultrasound confirmed the worst; I had a gallstone the size of a cherry, and everything needed to come out immediately.

It’s a little overwhelming going under the knife in a strange country, 10,000 miles from home. Thankfully, a few of my co-workers were loyal soldiers during the entire thing; staying during the surgery, and trading shifts off and on to ensure I was never alone while I recovered – even sleeping overnight.

When I got out, I knew I needed to find a way to thank them for all that they did; and the best way I knew how was to treat them to a great meal. That’s where Bourbon Street came in to play.

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Bourbon Street is a barbecue restaurant in the heart of the Smallville district here in Iloilo City. They carry a wide array of American staples, and are known for their succulent, fall of the bone ribs.

We arrived together, and were seated promptly. The menu had a lot of interesting options, and everyone wanted something different. My fellow Q-head went right for the ribs, while another who loves seafood tackled the baked salmon. Even though I knew fatty foods probably weren’t the best decision in light of my recent surgery, I couldn’t been tempted off the allure of pork belly.

Our drinks came, and I had opted to take my chances with their hot lemonade. I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike so many Filipino staples, they were light with the sugar, letting the tart lemon flavor work as the dominant flavor. It was delicious and soothing, like a warm mug of tea – but instead of relying on dried leaves, it was all fresh citrus.

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Our food promptly arrived, and the presentation was beautiful. The vegetables, unbeknownst to me ahead of time, came wrapped tightly in bacon – a very welcomed surprise. The pork belly was glistening in the mustard-based sauce, and when I cut into it, my knife slid right through like warmed butter.

What a treat! The fatty portion melted in my mouth, while the lower end tasted like a well cooked rib. People who know how to cook pork belly to perfection are a-okay in my books, and Bourbon Street was earning top marks.

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In fact, all four of us were quite satisfied with our meals. My friend who got the ribs proclaimed them to be as strong an offering as he’d had back home – high praise given some of the tough competition we’ve seen. But the smokeyness of the grill was coming through, as he got a slight hint of crunchy bark on the exterior, with meaty, ribby perfection on the inside. Great stuff.

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I enjoyed my time so much, that a few days later I found myself in a cab and headed back again. It was NFL time, and I was craving bar food. My need for spicy food had the chicken fingers with buffalo sauce just calling out to me.

The sauce wasn’t as spicy as I’d been led to believe, but it still trumped anything else I’d had on this trip so far. I’m not crazy about the oil they use locally to fry their foods; I wish I knew what it was, because everyone seems to use it, and it leaves an odd flavor. They weren’t my favorite pieces of chicken I’d ever had, but they definitely hit the spot.

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There’s still so much more of the menu I want to explore too – from their fresh seafood offerings, to actually sampling the ribs myself when my appetite returns to form. I’ve been told that their nachos are quite satisfying, and the fries are made from fresh, hand-cut potatoes. There’s literally nothing on the menu that I wouldn’t try.

Bourbon Street is likely to get plenty of attention from us for the rest of our time here. Local food is good, but sometimes, you need a taste of home, and these guys do it best.

Address: Red Square Garden Glicerio Pison Avenue Diversion Road, Manduriao Iloilo City
Website: bourbonstreet.com.ph
Facebook: Bourbon Street

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