Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub
Dulong x2 – Silver fish sautéed in Saffron Garlic and Squid Ink, served with Garlic Baguette
Escargot in Spicy Coconut – Julienned Vegetables, Jalapeno, Garlic Baguette
Garlic Rice – Scallions and Fried Onions
Fried Plantains – Powdered Sugar
Crispy Pata – Crispy Pork Hock with Slaw, Soy, Lechon Sauce
Crispy Pork with Egg Sisig – Belly with Onions & Jalapeno in House Sauce
Oxtail Kare Kare with Tripe – Grilled Vegetables, Peanut Sauce, Fish Sauce
Pacit Bami – Chicken, Shrimp, Sausage, Vegetables with Garlic Noodles
Lengua – Mushroom Cream Sauce with Olives and Peas
Bibingka Souffle – Milk Cream, Salted Egg Yolk, Fresh Cheese
Turon a la Mode – Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce, Hot Plantains
Suman – Sticky Rice with Ube, Mango, Crispy Coconut
Born in the rural Midwest and spending the better part of thirty-two years there while in school, suffice it to say that it very well be that I’d never really engaged in conversation with a person from the Philippines until moving to Las Vegas just two-and-a-half years ago, the island’s cuisine no less underrepresented in my dining history but also in the United States as a whole considering the number of their hard working people that make up the population in 2016 – the chance to dine with two local Chefs, one of them actually Filipino, plus a friend providing more than enough impetus to check out Cutting Board on Saturday afternoon.
Officially titled “Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub,” the extended descriptor part invitation to those unfamiliar and perhaps a bit cautionary to natives that the food is not exactly “authentic” to the style served back home, the restaurant took over an Asian buffet on Rock Springs Drive just off Lake Meade Boulevard near I-95 just a few months prior and having gained mixed reviews from trusted persons it was with a wide focus that a menu already undergoing several changes that an order was compiled, the dozen plates largely successful with portions that are not only generous, but often quite excessive.
Decorated in a manner not particularly ethnic, but more befitting a “gastropub” with limited décor aside from televisions showing sports, the layout of Cuttingboard features several hightops with backless industrial stools plus those uncomfortable steel shop-chairs at many standard four-tops, the better bet being to request one of the larger options suited for groups or communal dining that provide padded seats beneath the din of Pop-staples like “No Scrubs” from the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Listening to several specials while also seeing plates come out from the kitchen to others, the clientele largely Filipino families early before transitioning to a mix of Caucasians, African Americans and Latinos closer to two o’clock, it was merely minutes before the order started arriving, the $170 all-in cost without drinks quickly flooding the table with first bites of both the Silver fish and Escargot in Spicy Coconut proving to be robustly flavored even before being spread on slices of baguette liberally soaked in garlic.
Unable to resist fried plantains, the ripe fruit lent a gentle savory note here that was replaced by a crisp Shell plus sweet Chocolate Sauce in the Turon a la Mode served for dessert, attention was immediately diverted to a duo of plates that would prove amongst the best of the meal both in terms of size as well as portion, the sizzling Pork Belly Sisig served on cast iron quickly filling the air with a delectable aroma of Onions and Peppers while the Crispy Ham Hock was easily enough to be split by a family of four as the shattering skin gave way to the melted fat and collagen plus rich meat beneath it.
More than a little impressed by the complex Sauces native to the Philippines, everything from the Spicy Coconut to Lechon/Liver Sauce and Aged-Soy going well with both the items they arrived with as well as fluffy Garlic Rice, another surprise was found in the funky Fish Sauce that added another dimension of flavor to the rich Oxtail Kare Kare with tender bits of Tripe mixed in, the meaty Pacit Bami another intense dish chockablock full of Garlic while a daily special of thick-cut Beef Tongue was almost French in its inspiration, bathing with Peas and Olives in a Mushroom Cream Sauce.
Heavily pushed to by servers to taste the Bibingka Souffle, a dish that others have declared as everything from “delicious” to “disappointing,” opinions at the table tended to feel the latter more accurate as mild sweetness did little to mask the nearly raw, eggy center – a far better concept presented by a dish described as Suman with Mango Sauce and Toasted Coconut served over a roll of Sweetened Sticky Rice with mashed Ube at the center.
FOUR STARS: Taking on the difficult task of reinterpreting the cuisine of a nation with deeply ingrained traditions, Cutting Board Filipino Gastropub performs admirably with portions well suited for sharing amongst guests of any race while offering a whole lot to investigate for those who are willing to be adventurous.
RECOMMENDED: Crispy Pata, Lengua, Pork Sisig, Oxtail Kare Kare, Suman.
AVOID: Bibingka Souffle, dining with less than a party of four, and sitting on those awful stools or too close to the front windows where speakers blare.
TIP: Recently opened for lunch, 11:30am-9:30pm Su-Th and till 10:30pm on Friday-Saturday.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.