Poblacion is the new heart of Makati’s nightlife. It’s home to some of Manila’s most popular bars, speakeasies, and cafés but it also hides some underrated restaurants in the city. One such place is Le Bistro du Dr. Wine, also known simply as Dr. Wine.
The man behind Dr. Wine and Kartel Rooftop in Shanghai, China, Vincent Landais brought the bistro to the Philippines in 2017 in partnership with wife Eva Marzan-Landais, Jean Philippe Guillot of AWC Wines Philippines, and Simon Côté of Apotheke Craft Spirits Co. Having been established by wine lovers, wine is at the core of the bistro, but its revamped menu deserves its share of the spotlight.
As the French do
Headed by executive chef Julien Lecomte, formerly of Le Cafe Curieux, Dr. Wine’s kitchen introduces local patrons to the finest of French gastronomy. While French and Filipino cuisines couldn’t be more different, one thing is certain: Food is a huge part of their respective cultures just as their cultures impact the food. It’s the cultural significance of cuisine that ensures Dr. Wine’s new menu remains as authentic as possible.
“We are a very traditional French bistro,” says Lecomte. “If you want to do an adaptation of a basic cuisine, we call that fusion.”
It’s the small details in a dish that matter, according to Lecomte. “If I adapt (proper French onion soup) to the [local] palate, add a little meat or sugar or whatever, it is not onion soup anymore.”
“If I adapt (proper French onion soup) to the [local] palate, add a little meat or sugar or whatever, it is not onion soup anymore,” says executive chef Julien Lecomte.
Every chef has a favorite dish, just as some parents have a (secret) favorite child, and for Lecomte, that would be the Cassoulet Toulousain and La Soupe a L’Oignon Gratinee. For Dr. Wine newcomers, Lecomte recommends starting with the onion soup and ending with the cassoulet.
The onion soup is “something a bit heavier for the cold weather” owing to its origins, which is the north of France, while with the cassoulet from the south of France, “you have the smoky taste of the (duck) meat, the texture of the beans. It’s very flavorful as you have the herbs and the garlic,” says Lecomte.
But it’s not just the heavy meals that offer Filipinos an authentic experience, they also have a classic French cheese and cold cuts board aptly dubbed The Doctor’s Platter and a snails dish called Escargots A La Bourguignonne.
To wine and dine
To complete the experience, Dr. Wine’s wide array of alcohol is the perfect way to wash down its dishes. And what is a wine bar without a sommelier. Charles Seguin now holds the position as the bistro’s sommelier, succeeding Dr. Wine himself.
For Dr. Wine novices, Seguin suggests trying the Coudoulet de Beaucastel, a full-bodied red wine from Côtes du Rhône in the south of France that goes well with their meat and cold cuts platters. A new addition to Dr. Wine’s expansive wine collection are bottles from Stellenbosch in South Africa and perhaps the oldest vintage wine: the 1996 Château Margaux.
Some pairings are a classic, like heavy meat dishes with deep red wine and seafood with dry whites. Food and wine pairings are a separate world altogether, which is why having a sommelier on board is essential to any bistro and wine bar.
A culture’s cuisine is not something you can describe within the limits of one sentence, and France is no different. Each region, department, and arrondissement nurtures its own unique cuisine.
“When you combine everything, you have something very complicated to understand,” says Lecomte. Others can take a shot at describing French food as hearty and heavy, a byproduct of the colder climate, and they’re not wrong. But there’s so much more to their food than cream, butter, snails, and other typical preconceived notions. The best way to find out everything France has to offer? Pay the doctor a visit.
Le Bistro du Dr. Wine is located at Algier Street, Poblacion, Makati.
Dr. Wine also has an exclusive venue on the third floor, aptly called The Third Floor, for special occasion dinner reservations and a rooftop bar, Kartel, that offers a 360-degree view of the city.