Pinole: Abby’s Grill and Restaurant – Filipino fusion and regular stuff
Abby’s Grill opened in November 2011. It has a small menu that is mainly classic Filipino with crispy pata and such.
There are a few classic Vietnamese dishes also such as chicken pho. Then there is the fusion such as chicken adobo bahn mi and tuna ceviche tower. There are American touches such as Caesar salad.
No steam tables here. All dishes are made to order.
Here’s what I had
- Grilled pork belly sisig
- Crispy leche flan
- Weaver’s coffee
GRILLED PORK BELLY SISIG
This is served on a sizzling cast iron skillet which crisped up the pieces of pork in contact with the platter. It was borderline oily but not too. The finely chopped pork had good flavor with hits of fresh jalapeno. A little onion, ginger and liver paste completed the dish. It was a little salty so if you are not a salt lover, tell them no extra salt.
It comes with steamed rice but you can substitute it for the excellent garlic rice which was light and had fresh garlic flavor. The menu says there are also steamed veggies, but the long green beans tasted more stir-fried.
The dish comes with a small dish of house-made achara. This version of Filipino pickled veggies had slivered red onion, carrot and daikon in slightly sweet vinegar. I liked it a lot.
CRISPY LECHE FLAN
This was flan in lumpia wrappers that was deep fried and drizzled with caramel sauce. It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with reduced balsamic (maybe) and slices of fresh strawberry and kiwi. There were a few definite dabs of balsamic next to the flan lumpia.
It was all good and the presentation was pretty though it was like two separate desserts … the ice cream with fresh fruit side and the lumpia side.
There are four Filipino owners and the kitchen staff is young and fresh out of culinary school. So it looks like they get to play with few dishes such as this one.
One of the specials of the day was a spinach salad with strawberries, tofu and fruit vinaigrette.
Weaver’s is a San Rafael coffee company which was started by John Weaver, a master roaster at Peet’s for two decades before he started his own company in 2008. I liked this roast which was classic coffee shop … but good classic coffee shop … robust, but not so strong as to dissolve the lining of your stomach. More on Weaver’s
Seriously, until I was handed a menu I had zero clue this was a mainly Filipino restaurant. It has the look of a sleek, modern but comfortable café. Nine four top wooden tables nestle nicely in the small room. One wall has family photos and the other paintings by local artists. There are two outdoor tables.
For a restaurant this small, I was really impressed with my server who answered all my questions without missing a beat. She knew the menu well. One of the owners was there and it was pleasant chatting with him.
There is also a small breakfast menu on the weekend which in addition to champurado and silogs serves a few American dishes such as a Denver omelet. The pork and peas skillet seems interesting.
I’ll probably try the bahn mi next time to see if fusion works and if it is worth $7.95. Other than that, most of the dishes seem reasonably priced.
They are starting with a small menu and hoping to increase it over time, seeing what works in the area.
They seem to be trying to please both the Filipino customers and those new to the cuisine without dumbing down the menu and having a little fun in trying to fuse together a few worlds.
Address and phone on yelp
At least you got what you ordered. I met my companions there a couple of months ago and had a slightly different experience. A rundown of our order:
Fried calamari appetizer. Tender rings, lightly battered, were pale and slightly greasy. In my opinion, they could have used another minute or two in the deep fryer. It came with three dipping sauces, one peanut-based, one pesto, and one spicy chili and vinegar-based. Of the three I like the spicy chili the best.
Grilled pork belly sisig. Nice presentation, well prepared and delicious. We didn't notice that it was too oily, nor too salty. I'm not a fan of either. The garlic rice was very good, reminded me of my aunt's garlic fried rice we'd have for breakfast - yummm.
Lechonsilog. The two of us who ordered this looked down at our plates, then at each other, and then back at our plates. It was not what we ordered. Our waitress checked with the cook and reported back that they were out of the lechonsilog, so they prepared tapsilog for us instead. Hellooooo ... really? How about giving us the opportunity to order something else before being told what we were going to eat? She offered to take our plates back but we didn't want the food to go to waste. Unfortunately, the meat was on the dry side and the eggs overcooked. So the tapsilog is not on my list to try again. It also appears that the lechonsilog is off the menu.
Garlic noodles. We found this to be bland and overcooked. Stick with the garlic rice.
Crispy leche flan with ice cream. We enjoyed the spin on presenting leche flan. As a child, I remember it being made in a fancy, repurposed ham can. Wrapped in a lumpia wrapper and deep fried, served with caramel sauce, it was reminiscent of turón (filipino deep fried banana rolls). I don't recall that the ice cream was served separated as yours did, nor was there fresh cut fruit, but it was more than enough to share.
Nice ambience and atmosphere, everyone is friendly and polite. I like that the food is prepared fresh and not served from steam trays. There are a couple of dishes I'd like to try next time, like the nilagang baka or sinigang shrimp, or maybe the tocilog. That is, if the kitchen doesn't decide it for me.