Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Route 196 - Serving Live Music and Great Food Since 2006

6 New Eats and Your Gig Cheat Sheet for Route 196 Bar

Serving live music and great food since 2006, Route 196 is one of the few that prove a gig place can be more than just a cold bottle of beer. Known for their crisp and thin pizzas and stellar roster of bands performing live, the Katipunan bar has recently introduced more pizza flavors, additional bar chow, and revamped their gig schedules. These recent changes took into form when five guys took over running the bar.

"When I came in, this place looked really different. This place looked like a huge bar, pub-style ang dating," says co-owner Waco Mapua, who is also at the helm of Route 196's menu, "one of the major problems here was space and sound equipment." One of the first things they worked on was to renovate the establishment and purchase new sound equipment, and change the food. For loyal Route patrons, they retained the signature best-sellers of the bar (thin crust pizza!) since the year it opened. They now make their own pizza dough as well, compared to before when they were sourced from a supplier.
Noypi (P265): an old best-seller pizza topped with tinapa and kesong puti
New pizza flavors and additional pica-pica now take center stage among Route 196's eats. For the hungry, their regular pizza promo of any Two Pizzas for the Price of One is a steal: have them every evening from 6pm to 9pm. Extra thirsty on the first day of the week? They have a Rhum Coke All You Can on Mondays for P300. Their new food and promos give more reasons to head to the bar more than just for their awesome music.
With enough delectable items to choose from, create yourself a dinner spread that's both surprisingly affordable and delicious at the bar before rocking it out. Here are 6 dishes to try at Route 196, plus a gig cheat sheet so you know which evening to visit the bar for your favorite local acts.

1. Jugz and Kel Pizza (P310)
Three new pizza flavors are available at Route 196: Jugs and Kel, SJ (drunken mushrooms in herbs), and Lucban Longganisa. The flavor named after the men of Itchyworms seem to be an instant hit among customers, and these two (Jugs Jugueta and Kelvin Yu) happen to be part of the Route 196 team. 'Before they became partners here in Route, the old partners told me that they wanted to have a pizza named after them, so I asked them what toppings they want," Waco shares,  "and sabi ko, since they're two different people, I decided to make two flavors in one pizza." The pizza's split personality sums up what each guy likes to have on his pizza: one side is shrimp and mango, the other side is chicken taco.

2. Deviled Chicken (P170)
Deep angry red and glistening under the lights, the pieces of chicken look more spicy and sinister than they actually are. Enough heat lingers on your palate in every bite, followed by sweetness. Dip the chicken on the bleu cheese to cut the heat and add more flavor. The spiciness of this appetizer definitely makes this an addicting bar chow, and will make you thirst for some ice cold beer.

3. Salted Egg Wings (P200)
Can't take the heat from the Deviled Chicken? Order this instead for a more Asian-inspired appetizer, "I got the idea from the salted egg chicken of Zong, and the salted egg sauce of Shrimp Bucket," Waco tells me. Combining these two flavor inspirations translates well in the wings, delicious bites of tangy and salty, with a unique slightly chalky texture that lingers on your tongue. This is my personal pick (I love the Zong chicken!), and I can imagine ordering this bar chow with some extra rice, please.
4. Smoked Farmers Sausage (P170)
For less than P200, this new appetizer at Route 196 gets top-notch treatment with its plating and presentation.  A neat row of thinly sliced sausages, sourced from a Tagaytay deli, is accompanied by a handful of mealy potato fries and sidings of ketchup and mustard. The peppery taste of the sausages make it flavorful enough to skip dipping it on the condiments.

5. Five Spice Squid (P180)
A small plate of seafood goes a long way if spiced just right, and the Five Spice Squid is just that. Small pieces of squid are battered every so lightly and smothered in assorted spices, that every bite is a bomb of flavors. Dip the calamari into the garlicky aioli that comes along with it and it will make you come back for more (and more beer, please).

6. Sisig TNT (P200)

Crispy plus fatty plus spicy often equates to just about any good bar chow, and these sili sticks nail that equation right. "It's like a cheese dynamite but sisig is stuffed inside instead of cheese," Waco says. Crispy, deep-fried, and sisig-stuffed chillies? Might as well have the devil dance around your tastebuds while watching your favorite bands perform onstage. Rock on.

Route 196's Gig Cheat Sheet:
If you've been wondering how you or your band can score a gig at Route 196, Waco says they refer artists to the different producitons that they partner with, such as Terno Inferno and Attraction! Reaction!. For up and coming bands, Kel shares that there is a prod called Jumpstart, where the entrance is free and artists try out for that evening. Electropop band Autotelic started at a Jumpstart gig, and relased their EP April of last year at Route 196.
Here's a quick rundown of who performs when at Route 196:
  • Johnoy Danao - every second Friday of the month
  • Up Dharma Down - every third Friday of the month
  • Kevin Roy (G.A.P. Guilty Acoustic Pleasures) - every other Monday
  • 'Stripped,' acoustic performances by various artists - every first Wednesday of the month
  • Other Route 196 regulars include Barbie Almabis and Julianne Tarroja, and productions by Terno Inferno and Attraction! Reaction!

Route 196 is located at 196 -A Katipunan Avenue and is open from 6pm to 3am from Mondays to Saturdays. Follow Route 196 on Twitter and Instagram (@route196rocks) to keep updated with new gig skeds and promos.
Gig and food promo posters taken from Route 196 Facebook page.

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