As you walk around Ayala Avenue at Makati, you will notice a standalone black and white building which used to be the famous Neilson Tower. Nielson Tower was home to the country’s first commercial airport. It was built by Laurie Reuben Nielson, a British man born in New Zealand, who had moved to Manila in the 1930s seeking business opportunities. In July 1937, Nielson Airport was inaugurated, with a terminal building and control tower designed to resemble an airplane from a bird’s eye view. In 1948 the airport ceased operations and the land was returned to Ayala and Cia. They remain the only pre World War II structures in Makati.
The Nielson Tower is now home to Blackbird, a dining and leisure destination, housing a bar and lounge in what was once the check in area, an oval grill room in the passenger terminal, a private room in the control tower, and an outdoor bar and dining space where the tarmac used to be. The moment you walk through the front door you will see the lounge with the posh and velvet clad sofas, marble and brass marble tables on the left
On the right is a modern classy bar counter with tall bar chairs and bartenders who will serve you cocktails and alcohol of your choice.
One of the highlight is this long corridor that brings you to the main dining hall beyond the lounge. Right in the center of the walkway, you can see the spiral staircase leading up to the private dining room which is the old control tower.
The main dining hall which used to be the passenger terminal is now set up in a warm and cosy fine dining atmosphere. The entire set up resembles a French fine dining restaurant with its starched white table linens and immaculate table plating arrangement. The entire hall features full length windows with black grilles giving it a old English manor outlook.
The spiral staircase in the center of the hall leads up to the private dining area which used to be the control tower. This area is pretty small and can house only a few tables on normal days and up to 30 pax for private events.
They also have a huge outdoor area for al fresco dining for days when the weather is more cooling or even during the night. This entire area used to be the tarmac in the old airport days.
The menu here is inspired by the history of the building by serving World and Asian classics. I ordered the grilled Kurobuta pork belly with herb noodle salad, spring rolls and nuoc cham and chili paste. This is totally inspired by Vietnamese cuisine and is extremely light and refreshing.
The dessert was sticky date pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Although the serving was small but it was more than sufficient for one person. The pudding was very moist and nice with thick and sweet syrup. The dessert changes often so you might not get this in the menu anymore.
Overall, the atmosphere of Black Bird is fantastic and the service standards are high with good attention to details. The prices are considered on the pricey end for the normal restaurant in Makati but the entire history and atmosphere of the restaurant is something which is very unique.
Address: 6752, 1229 Makati Ave, Makati, 1229 Metro Manila, Philippines
Operating hours: 11 am to 11 pm