A Refreshingly New Point of Vu’s
Vu’s sky bar at Marco Polo Ortigas introduces a new menu, new cocktails, and two gentlemen at the helm.
Photos by Sonny Espiritu
Marco Polo Ortigas opened in February 2014, and has since become one of Ortigas business district’s major landmarks. It’s hard to miss the vertical hotel, whose front faces Meralco Avenue and whose back is along Sapphire Road. At night, the Ortigas skyline would not be complete without the entire structure lit up with fantastic LED lights.
At the 45th floor of Marco Polo Ortigas sits Vu’s Sky Lounge. Vu’s is one of the hotel’s F&B outlets, aside from Café Pronto (for coffee lovers), Cucina (for buffet lovers), and Lung Hin (for Chinese cuisine lovers).
Vu’s opened on September 18, 2014. In celebration of its first year, it is offering a new menu, new cocktail selections, and introducing two new members of the team.
Mirko De Giorgi is the new Director of Food and Beverage. He is working closely with Lluis Cantons, the new Executive Chef. Cantons is determined not only to train, solidify, and grow his team, but also to interact with the hotel’s guests and know their feedback on the quality of the food and drinks.
“We’re looking at what the market wants. Before, the market would request for Filipino food, but it wasn’t available. They were asking for sisig, bistek Tagalog,” Chef Lluis tells LIFE at The Standard. “Many of the food items that the Filipino market loves will now be here.”
The new menu will be served in smaller portions that can be shared and enjoyed by a group of three or four. De Giorgi calls them “bar bites.”
“Most of the time when you go to a bar and you would like to have a drink, you would get big plates,” he says. “It’s more convenient to have smaller plates which you can easily pass to the other guests at the table. The portions are a little smaller so you can order more of the tapas items.”
Price wise, De Giorgi is quick to note that theirs would be competitive. No one will be able to say that they are being charged a lot for small portions.
How the new menu came to be
In order to understand what the market wants and to know how the make the menu more attractive to the food-loving populace, De Giorgi and Chef Lluis checked what sold well since Vu’s opened. They counted the number of plates sold, and found that the sausage platter – the only item from the old menu that is being retained – was the bestseller.
“The other [dishes] weren’t moving. We had to find out what the issue was,” shares De Giorgi. “Was it the taste? The quality? Is it not the right market?” For the food tasting, they invited the local staff to participate and share what they liked.
The result: a new menu that promises to tickle the Filipino palate, from the sweet and savory combination of the burger to the just-right breading of the good old fried chicken.
And of course, there’s rice.
“One of the new menu’s highlights is the paella, cooked from an original recipe,” says Chef Lluis, who hails from Catalan, a region in Spain’s far northeast corner. “We use the best ingredients – with imported rice from Spain – and a recipe that my father taught me a long time ago. It has a very particular taste that I am sure you will not find anywhere else in Manila.”
The paella is served for sharing, good for two to three people. It is available in three variants: Paella Negra, Seafood Paella, and Mista Paella.
De Giorgi and Chef Lluis acknowledge that the chef needs to cook what the guests like and not just what the chef personally likes. “Most of the time we see chefs cooking what they like, to show their style,” says De Giorgi. “Today, we are cooking what the guests want. The guests will come because the taste is good, and it’s what they want.”
Cocktails and bar bites
A bar is not a bar without exciting drinks that perfectly match the bar bites and that allow long conversations in a spot overlooking the city. De Giorgi is working on improving the cocktail experience at Vu’s, but many changes have already taken place.
First is the introduction of the 24 classic cocktails of all Marco Polo Hotels. Wherever you go in any Marco Polo Hotel, you will see a list of 24 classic cocktails. “Same recipe, same glasses, wherever you go,” says De Giorgi. Any martini drink ordered will be shaken in front of the table, and he plans to amp this up by serving cocktails with a small “surprise.”
“What I am starting slowly is to serve not just the glasses of cocktail but also a side garnish that will match the drink and surprise the guest,” he says. “This way, drinking the cocktail will be an experience, and not just about serving the glass.”
He and his team are doing it step by step. Proper training is crucial, from preparing to serving. “The taste has to be good. The integration has to be good,” says De Giorgi.
De Giorgi and Chef Lluis acknowledge their competition not only in the Ortigas area and surrounding areas, but also with the big hotels and casino resorts in the metro. They are prepared to take the challenge.
“There are so many hotels around. You see these big casino hotels will 800 to 900 rooms,” posits De Giorgi. “The difference with Marco Polo Ortigas is we have more than 300 rooms and we offer personalized service.
“We recognize whoever comes back, call them by name, and remember their preferences. It will be very, very personalized.”
Chef Lluis, while on hand to interact with guests and personally get feedback from them, is determined to keep his kitchen team happy. “I have a very good team, and I want to grow the hotel with them,” he says. “I will do this through training, coaching, and sharing of my recipes. I will focus on knowledge and teamwork.”
When it comes to food, Chef Lluis stresses one word: quality. “We cannot compete with the size of our competitors, but quality-wise, we can,” he says.
Watch out for the Halloween buffet at Cucina and Halloween party at Vu’s Sky Lounge on October 29. Marco Polo Ortigas is also ready for the Christmas season, with a festive buffet in Cucina, special menu in Lung Hin, and wine dinners and wine tasting every month. Christmas hampers will be on sale at Café Pronto by November.
Vu’s sky bar and lounge is on the top 45th floor of the Marco Polo Manila located in Sapphire Rd., Pasig. For more information you may visit www.marcopolohotels.com and follow local promotions and updates on their official Facebook page Marco Polo Ortigas Manila and @MarcoPoloManila on Twitter and Instagram.