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April 07, 2015

Neil Writes About: Charlie's Grind & Grill

In my article about the Farmacy Ice Cream and Soda Fountain, I opened with my love for the 90's tv show Scooby-Doo and their malt shop. To me, being able to see something from my childhood into real life is kind of simple (and maybe kind of petty) but very powerful. In fact, one of my other favorite shows from that time was called 'Kenan and Kel' who's main cast also starred in a film called 'Good Burger.' Now the film itself won't win an Oscar, (it never did) but the idea of having a place to come back to every time you need a burger fix was real. I am a guy and there will be times when I need to have meat and occasionally that meat has to specifically be a good burger.

Back in my second year of college, my father told me about a burger joint recommended by his friend's son who was a bit of a foodie (when 'foodie' wasn't a word yet). Now my father is really picky with cuisines. He can only appreciate Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and American cuisines. And no dish epitomises American food other than the 'Burger.' You'd guess right that it was a cause to zip on out to this Burger joint, Charlie's Grind & Grill.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Facade Review
Quite the welcoming type isn't it?

So we set out for Ortigas avenue to look for the branch at the Ronac Art Center. It is a couple of blocks away from Greenhills Shopping Center. The Ronac art center is a uniquely beautiful building that houses several establishments on the ground floor and an art gallery above. My only true gripe with the place is that the parking lot isn't that big. It can be a hassle during high traffic hours.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Ambiance Review
The place resembles an American style Diner

The Ambiance

Once we got to Ronac Art Center, the sign wasn't that hard to miss. Glass for the facade and a glowing white sign that said it all. This was it. I went ahead and checked the place out. It was like walking inside an American dinner where they have a bar with stools and regular matching dining tables and dining chairs. At the edge of the room is the Charlie's Mural which showcases all of their dishes. Now don't expect this place to have that emotive ambient lighting that you find for those romantic encounters. No, this is a place for casually dining and/or casually hanging out with good company that may or may not include anything sports related.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Black Angus Cheeseburger Review
The Bacon Black Angus Cheeseburger!
I went back at the cashier and queued up  with my family and glared at the chalkboard menu where we were surprised to see two types of meat to choose from for our soon-to-be delectable treat: The Black Angus and the Wagyu Beef. The cashier was kind enough to differentiate but it is always better to taste it for yourself, so we ordered both. The Wagyu for me, my father and my brother and Black angus for my mother, my sister and my other brother. 

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Wagyu Cheeseburger Review
The Wagyu Cheeseburger!
The cashier then asked if we'd like their to try the other best selling dishes in their menu. Them being the Buffalo Wings and basket of their Chili Fries. 

Now over the years we would come back to this place from time to time and we've also tried their Black Truffle Fries, their Garlic and Parmesan Fries, their Jalapeño and Cheese fries and their Dirty Fries. On the Buffalo wings side are either the Sweet, the Hot, the Nuclear, the one with Punyeta Sauce and the Reversed Buffalo Wings. The Reversed Buffalo wings has won awards and I highly recommend you try it if you like bleu cheese. They are all good but they are fundamentally the same but with little variations. It's good to try them to shake things up from time to time.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Sweet Buffalo Wings Review
The Lovely Buffalo Wings Sweet style with Bleu Cheese and Vegetable sticks

The Food

Let's be direct and get to the meat of the matter. The Black Angus Patties are generally bigger while the Wagyu is softer and leaner. I have had both and when you take your first bite on either you will have that distinct 'Wow!' your friends and family will take notice. The flavor literally bursts inside your mouth and you just can't help but take another bite. It really falls down to your preference. I prefer the softness of the Wagyu while my father likes the satisfaction from the volume of food he eats. 

Dripping with sauce, the buffalo wings was just begging to be eaten. So I grabbed it and gave it my first bite. And damn, with each bite it gives me that wonderful crunch sound that is both intoxicating and satisfying. 

After finishing the first wing I noticed the bleu cheese sauce where I was suppose to dip the chicken. The result is the balancing of the sweetness/spiciness of the chicken with the cheese's subtle saltiness. The vegetable sticks are there to reset or cleanse your taste palette should you find it too sweet or too spicy. 

Soon there after the chili fries arrived. The chili is thick with sauce and ground meat teasing you with surrounding smell of pepper. The fries itself have that attractive brown caramelisation that just tells you 'I am going to ruin your diet.' It did. It was totally worth it though. I keep telling myself that.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Chili Fries Review
Light in spiciness yet full in flavor, the chili cheese fries is a worthy diet breaker
Of course, their menu is quite diverse they even have Snap dawgs, Fish and Chips and Fish Sandwiches. I have yet to taste them all but most of the times I find their dishes are good. They also have a variety of Beer selection like my personal favorite the Japanese Hitachino Nest that was made with the sake brewing process and the Scottish Tennent's Scottish beer that was aged in Whisky Oak.

P.S. I have been coming back to this lovely establishment from time to time since I first arrival. Recently, I have found some inconsistencies. I went with my friends the month before this was written and we found that there were parts of the burger where it was too salty. The seasoning was uneven, yet the parts that weren't over seasoned were still amazing. Also, one of my lovely friends, also went there recently and told me that she found her burger dry. I hope they remedy this because I have always loved this place and I wish I won't have to find for another. 

The Service

The receptionist/cashier is patient, kind and knowledgeable enough to guide you through each dish to help even the more fickle and the more picky clients. The waiters are warm and receptive for additional requests like a tissue pack, a jug of water or a simple table clean up. They even have TVs for sports events. In fact it is a good place to call your sports bar should you need to watch FIBA, FIFA or the next Pacman Brawl.

They are one of the seasoned staff around. The food is great and it is accompanied with great service.
In fact, they want to cater to each customer's preferences that they have a fridge just for desserts, beer, and condiment sauces! I mean just look at those: the American sauce, the Russian sauce, the Aoili, the Ketchup and the Mustard.

Charlie's Grind & Grill San Juan Metro Manila Burger, Condiments Review
Aioli, Russian, American, Mustard, Ketchup and Salt and Pepper

The Price

The standard Black Angus cheeseburger will set you back for Php 200.00 while the Wagyu cheeseburger will set you back with Php 10.00 premium over the former. Every other burger is a variation of these and will have a corresponding additional premium. The other dishes like the different french fries, chicken wings and other sandwiches will set you back with a range of Php 105.00 to a max of roughly Php 300.00. Now considering the quality of the food, I am very much willing to pay two-hundred for a good burger fix.

The Verdict

Overall Verdict: A
Food Quality: A
Food Service: A-
Bang for your Buck: A

Do you want to Contact 'Charlie's Grind & Grill?'
Address: G/F Ronac Bldg., Madison St. Greenhills San Juan
Telephone number: (02) 477-5021
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun: 10AM to 12.30AM


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