Room For Rarity: Step Inside A Discreet Epicurean Enclave

The fine dining hotspot for those in the know continues to draw in connoisseurs with its premium offerings and newly renovated interiors.  

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue. 

For an establishment that serves some of Manila’s finest steaks in an atmosphere of rarefied sophistication, there is something quite unpretentious about Elbert’s Steak Room, and its proprietor, Elbert Cuenca. 

First off, the restaurant doesn’t have a sign, and hasn’t had one ever since it opened in 2007. Instead, to get to its hallowed culinary halls, you need a leap of faith, enough to get you up three flights of stairs through a nondescript building in Salcedo Village, Makati. “The funny thing is that we never intended it to be a speakeasy. That space was what I could afford at the time, and we ran out of funding for signage,” Cuenca shares. 

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Customers, however, loved it, and asked him to keep it that way. Those brave enough to venture forth were then rewarded with what can be considered one of the best steaks in the city, served with both an exacting level of perfectionism, and a soft, almost genteel breed of hospitality. 


Stepping into the hidden gem, renovated after a short hiatus, feels like entering a secret lounge, or perhaps a private member’s club. Sunlight streams in through the windows, highlighting cozy seating areas and interiors done in an elegant palette of gray, ivory , and warm mahogany with touches of bordeaux. As the sun sets, the atmosphere becomes a little more subdued, the lively chatter kept to a minimum among its loyal patrons. 

The restaurant has clearly expanded, now taking over the entire floor, beginning with an entrance foyer that leads one to the main dining area, or to its newly-added private room for VIP guests.

Elbert’s Steak Room
A sanctuary for gourmands, Elbert’s Steak Room features many elegant nooks for socializing amidst good food and wine.
A new addition to Elbert’s Steak Room is this well-appointed and yet cozy private dining room for their VIP clientele.

For the redo, Cuenca had once again commissioned the haven’s original interior designer, Noel Bernardo. “He and I get along so well in terms of understanding each other’s ideas, visions, and intentions,” Cuenca declares. Decorating the walls are abstractions in oil by Poch Naval, and playful pencil sketches by Roberto Chabet, alongside framed collages by Nilo Ilarde, who also curates the restaurant’s art. 

In the most recent redesign, the old cigar room has been transformed into an elegant mini private room to give guests a private space.
Expanding their selection of premium libations, the bar now boasts a cocktail menu, as it sits proudly amidst the main dining area.


But all that theater, though sublime, is still secondary. “Everything we do – the service, style, décor, the wine list, the amenities – are peripheral to the centerpiece, which is the steaks we serve,” says Cuenca. 

And it is these exceptional USDA prime-grade steaks that has put his establishment on the map. “We decided it was essential for our customers to eat these steaks unadulterated,” the restaurateur declares, opting to let the natural essences of the beef shine. 

Elbert’s Steak Room Tomahawk Rib Eye Steak
The massive Tomahawk Rib Eye steak, paired with Michel Lynch Reserve Medoc 2017

Wet aged for just the right amount of time to develop its flavors whilst keeping the moisture in, the meat is then brushed with grapeseed oil and seasoned with Mediterranean Sea salt and black pepper. Flash cooked to perfection, it is the kind of steak that cravings are made of, oozing with bold, rich umami flavor, premium meats so flawless the desire is palpable. 

Elbert’s Steak Room Steak Tartare
The flavorful Steak Tartare

The restaurant boasts a simple prix fixe menu, where the steaks are accompanied by a full-course meal. Cuenca recommends the Double Gold Filet Mignon, a naturally flavored tenderloin steak with a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Its depth of flavor does indeed captivate sans sauce, although dipping the meat in either the peppercorn, red wine bordelaise, or creamy béarnaise does add another savory dimension.

Elbert’s Steak Room USDA Double Gold Filet Mignon, with a side of creamed spinach
The USDA Double Gold Filet Mignon, with a side of creamed spinach

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia April 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader. 

Photos by Kieran Punay of Kliq, Inc.

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