Last week, we ate in a restaurant where foodies can probably endure hours of long waits. It’s a neat space located near Vikings by the bay in the MOA compound. Recommended by my work teammates, LAB Gastropub Oceana was where we celebrated the baby shower of Wendy (also one of my teammates) who will be delivering a baby girl two weeks from now. It was supposed to be a surprise party for her, prepared by all of us together with her husband.
The plan was that her husband would pick her up after work and invite her to take a stroll inside the mall and have dinner afterwards. Wendy admitted that she quite felt that something fishy was going on when the hubby said they were going to the LAB, as he did not know a lot of places in SM Mall of Asia (Pasay City), especially this restaurant. Anyway, they called a taxi to get to the location only to find out that some of our colleagues were already set in a long table having their first few bites of the food.
Yet she still didn’t feel so convinced that we were all meeting up for a “special occasion.” She only came up to the realization when the table was much filled with everyone she knows (including two past colleagues). To cut the story short, we dined, talked about our excitement to welcome their baby to the world and joined Wendy while she happily opened the gifts.
Review of The LaB Gastropub Oceana (SM By the Bay, Pasay City)
As you can see in the following pictures, this pub looks clean and friendly to customers. There were no stools along the bar’s counter, but there chairs and tables were aplenty in the dining area.
The walls were of glass and unvarnished brick. The kitchen had a transparent window, so we could see the chefs (who I heard are students from Center for Culinary Arts, Manila) from our seats and watch them operate pans and ovens, like we were lucky guests in their home.
The place has an extended room, which is now still being fixed and decorated. Soon, it will be open for bigger events and gatherings.
I guess it makes perfect sense when the restaurant is named The Lab, as liquors in different bottles and sexy glasses (not in test tubes) were all over.
The crowd was just laid back and low key. No one was dressed up, talking loudly on cell phones (or talking loudly with everyone else), and the only jerk snapping photos of food and each portion in the pub busily was me. 😛 While the other bars around the same area feature loud music, LAB Gastropub offers a cool ambiance where you can be relaxed.
In my opinion, service barely matters when it comes to buffet settings. Customers had to take their own plates and place whatever food to their liking. The only thing that should be considered for the gauge in customer service was if the staff were fast in refilling food in the food warmers. I must commend the few waiters walking around as they were attentive enough to fulfill this role.
They also moved around tables to ask for drink options, as the buffet includes not only food but also water, juices and cocktails. We felt taken care of by the servers who tended to everyone.
Food and Drinks: ★★★☆☆
LAB Gastropub offers Western dishes with a Filipino twist. What’s weird (in a good way, maybe) is that they have different dishes every day. I also noticed that they do not refill the same food variety when one has been eaten all up. So you can be surprised what food they would next place in the buffet table in your next round of visit. You can dine in there every day consecutively in a week without getting tired of eating the same food!
For the beverages, we had the following selection of cocktails: they have caipirinha (PHp 155), pina colada (PHp 120), spritzer (PHp 195), AMF (PHp 145), mojito (PHp 140), polynesian punch (PHp 145), ChiChi (Php 120), French connection (PHp 160), rhumtini (Php 120), screwdriver (PHp 105), michelada (Php 165), tequila sunrise PHp 120), gimlet (PHp 105), martini royale (PHp 175), blue frost (PHp 105), black mamba (PHp 145), long islad iced tea (PHp 145) and red frost (PHp 145).
Note that these prices are the selling prices when you are to order them individually outside the happy hour. Also available in the buffet were: pineapple juice (PHp 70), mango juice (PHp 80), orange juice (PHp 70), and four seasons (PHp 80).
Moving on, I closely watched the bartender mix the liquids in the drink and tried to take a sip of the Caribbean temptation and blue frost.
The Caribbean temptation was made up of orange concentrated syrup, tequila and grenadine. I asked why there must be salt and the reason provided was that in a world of citrusy, sugary drinks that can all taste alike, the taste of salt will make the difference. It added a complementing taste to the punch which made it more pleasant.
The tequila sunrise was a concoction of orange, mango and pineapple. Originally, the color is red but when mixed, the drink turns to a gradient orange like a real sunrise. Amazing! The blue frost consisted of the blue curacao, sprite, pineapple and vodka. This latter one had a stronger liquor taste which I didn’t like. 😯
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
We went for the eat-and-drink all-you-can ~ happiest hour by the bay. This promotion is available from 6PM to 10PM every day, if I’m not mistaken. With all these food and drinks plus the unique experience, the price is pretty much affordable and worth the value.
LAB Gastropub Oceana (San Miguel by the Bay)
SM Mall of Asia, San Miguel by the Bay, Seaside Blvd
Manila Bay Reclamation Area, Pasay
For inquiries, call (02) 556-3195