Great Eats

My first visit to Kettle SM Aura

After sharing a recipe on homemade Oven-Fried Buttermilk Chicken, I thought now would be the perfect time to write about the meal I had in a restaurant that specializes on traditionally fried Buttermilk Chicken. Yup, I’m talking about the real fried kind, in hot oil and everything. And if you’ve been on the loop about popular restaurants in Metro Manila, then you’ve probably heard about Kettle. Or better yet, eaten there before I have, in which case, why don’t we compare notes? 😉

I feel like locally there’s been a lot of recognition for buttermilk chicken recently, because indeed buttermilk as a magic ingredient somehow provides an added tenderness (and consequently even more juiciness) to the chicken. In this case, I do totally understand all the hype.

Ironically it took us a while before we were able to try out any of the famous buttermilk chicken places, with Kettle being the first. Lately I haven’t been in the mood to chase after restaurants, which can be bad for a food blogger! 😛 Sadly I live in a city that’s a long drive from most of the good restaurants so I either settle for home-cooked meals or something close and familiar. (Makes it sound like I live in the middle of nowhere.)

But finally while we were out and about in SM Aura, the family decided to make our way to Kettle to get a taste of that famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken once and for all. Funny thing is it isn’t even my favourite dish from those we tried that day. Kettle has plenty of interesting dishes, and the chicken is just scratching the surface.

The exterior of Kettle reminds me a bit of a glass house, but inside we’ve got some vintage/retro feels thanks to some booth tables and a traditional cake counter with glass cake stands. My favourite decor is this set of black and white photos from some iconic locations in the US.

Since we came in for a really early dinner, the house wasn’t packed yet. I’m not sure if this is the reason why the staff here at Kettle SM Aura seems more attentive, but we were handed menus and served with some lemon water right away.

The menus are adorable by the way, using clipboards to hold all the pages. It adds more to that retro vibe since the font used on the menu is like that of a typewriter. It didn’t take long after we gave our orders for the food to arrive.

First on the table is the Kettle House Salad (Php 339), a mixture of arugula, romaine, toffee walnuts, bacon, and manchego cheese. The dark-coloured berry balsamic dressing is sweet and just slightly tangy. I find that anytime candied nuts is added to a salad the flavour goes up tenfold.

Meanwhile, the Smoked Salmon Salad (Php 259) is a combination of mixed greens, Norwegian smoked salmon, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. It’s drizzled with some dill ranch dressing and topped with croutons. Obviously just the presence of the smoked salmon alone makes this the tastier salad between the two.

The Mac and Four Cheese (Php 269) is a small cast-iron dish of classic baked mac but with Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyere, and Parmesan on top to form that melty sticky crust that is a requirement in any good mac & cheese. The combination of these cheeses makes for a rather creamy but indulgent mac & cheese.

Unfortunately I didn’t find this dish particularly memorable. The combination of the cheeses actually created something surprisingly mild. Yes it’s creamy, but it’s also just okay. I’m not looking for something super salty, but a bit of savouriness would be nice. Yet the charm of this dish lies in the fact that it’s soooo comfort food material just by the looks of it.

Whatever flavour the Mac & Cheese lacked for me was made up for by the Truffle Gorgonzola Pasta (Php 289). It’s truffle cream, fried basil, and Parmesan cheese on spaghetti, and wow that cream is thick! (I can’t slurp it which is a shame haha!)

This really challenged my tastebuds in a way, not because I’m not a fan of gorgonzola or anything like that, but the sauce lingers in the throat in a rather uncomfortable way. At least for me. However my brother practically wanted to lick the plate clean, so that’s something right?

This is a very rich dish with a distinct smell and strong flavour, so if you’re not a fan of strong-smelling cheeses you probably won’t like this. This is certainly a dish that’s not for everyone.

The Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Php 519) is one of the specialties of the house. As the name suggests, it is chicken that’s been tenderized in buttermilk, breaded, then fried until crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. But while one would typically expect a drumstick, in Kettle they already have the chicken meat off the bone and in the form of giant thigh fillets flat on a plate. The pieces are large enough for sharing.

This dish is served with Kettle’s Country Gravy, but I recommend eating it with the Cajun honey instead. The chicken on its own is pretty ordinary, but with the honey it becomes an entirely different story!

On the side are pieces of ultra-moist Honey-glazed Jalapeno Cornbread for a spicy accompaniment. In all honesty, the cornbread is the one I’m plotting to recreate at home rather than the chicken. Yet thanks to this dish, I’ll make it a point to serve future homemade buttermilk chicken with some spicy honey.

The Australian Lamb Adobo (Php 449) is probably my favourite dish among all we ordered this day. Because it’s slow-cooked, the texture of the lamb was just perfect. It’s cooked in flavourful adobo-style  and laid out on top of an equally delicious truffle mushroom rice, with some tzatziki on the side.

For its size, this dish is in all honesty a little pricey, but I can’t deny that this is really good!

I feel like I can replicate this Miso Glazed Salmon (Php 559) at home. It’s essentially a slice of pan-fried Norwegian salmon laid atop sesame-marinated cold soba noodles. On top of everything is a colourful combination of Mango-Cilantro Salsa to bring everything together.

The sesame scent and flavour is the most dominant element in this dish, making it the only “oriental” dish we ordered for the meal. It’s also one of the priciest for the size of the dish though I realize salmon can get pretty darn expensive.

All in all, Kettle SM Aura gets top marks for service and ambiance. The food is good and clearly of high quality, but I can’t say that value for money is maximized because some dishes are surprisingly smaller than others. The thing I really like about Kettle though is how feel-good most of their dishes end up being, and at the same time it’s also innovative. A fusion of Southern with a tiny bit of Asian flair. No wonder they’ve been featured in the news numerous times and even got listed in a city food guide!

One thing I have to make sure to try when we return are Kettle‘s desserts. They are rather famous for their Checkered Cake, which unfortunately we were too full to order. My brothers have already filed away in their heads Kettle‘s other interesting dishes I’m sure. I do hope that next time will be sooner rather than later!

Kettle SM Aura

5F SM Aura Premier, C5 Corner 26th Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Manila, Philippines
(+632) 887 3564

Full disclosure: This meal was absolutely not sponsored in any way and all opinions stated above are my own.

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