Wednesday, May 9, 2012


 4.5 out of 5 stars

Never mind that the proprietor chef harnessed experience in far-flung parts of Europe.  Never mind that he knew his focus in life early on, learning primarily from New England Culinary Institute.  Never mind that he works like a perfectionist and expects nothing less from his peers and employees.  What we should mind, it seems, is the stunning food you could come across eating in La Girolle.  And true to its name, quite a lot of mushrooms!

Access to this restaurant makes it unbeknownst to passers-by.  With no sign at eye level or obvious directions,  this restaurant was made to be ostensible only to food-hunters.

The place does not give much of an impression upon entering.  It carries much neutral undertones with unremarkable but well-made furniture in a modest-sized area.  It leaves the kitchen exposed to its customers, with a special chef’s table directly connected to the side of the kitchen.  In hindsight, the spick and span ambiance clearly gave way to the complexity of the food. 

The amuse bouche of soba was really a teaser, marinated in an uncharacteristic but neutral base and topped off with a few sprigs of vegetables.

This was in direct contrast to the sophisticated panache of the Tartare of Australian Lamb Loin.  The meat was luscious and well-seasoned, with hints of olive and rosemary.  Its quality was not masked by the tomato confit, cocktail vegetables and egg that lay on top.  My only misgiving was that the meat was not minced too finely, and I, at one point, ate a substantial portion of the rubbery raw meat.
 Tartare of Australian Lamb Loin
The salad was a breeze of fresh air and warm citrus notes laden with orange, tomatoes and beets.  However, I wanted to taste a little more of that white cheese that lay hidden beneath the bitter salad leaves (purslane).
 Le Girolle Salad

What else it there to say about this next starter but perfection?  Mushrooms, ravioli, foie gras, oxtail jus……  Simply rich, earthy and tasty.
Ravioli of Foie Gras and Oxtail

I wasn't too pleased with the sorbet.  It looked and tasted as if it were a confused ice cream and sorbet all at once, and didn't seem to have that palate-cleansing effect.

Their best-seller, the Braised Lamb Shank, was good and couldn’t have been more French than how it tasted.  It was presented with the lamb jus poured by the attendant in a very careful manner.  The strong ubiquitous taste of aromatic spices infused the tender portions of the meat.  I found it a tad oily, though, and if it were to be so, I’d have much prefer it to be the slightly crunchy portions of my friend’s Confit of Lamb Shoulder.  The latter was truly a magnificent dish.
 Braised Lamb Shank

 Confit of Lamb Shoulder
I didn’t get to try all of the dishes that were ordered, but it would be criminal not to post them as they were truly visual works of art:

Compressed Korubuta Belly of Pork

 Pan Seared Snapper

Never to miss dessert, I opted for the custard-based  Pot de Crème.  It was anticlimactic, as its simple taste did not compare to the complexity of the savory dishes. 
 Pot de Crème

The other desserts, though were a sight for sore eyes, particularly the Caramelized Lemon Tart.  As with the entrees, I cannot leave these pictures out even if I didn’t get to taste or have an opinion of them:

 Caramelized Lemon Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

 complimentary truffle chocolate

All in all, La Girolle has great potential to be the go-to in fancy French cuisine.  Though it may break the bank (tasting menu - P3,000+, four courses - P2,000+, three courses - P1,750+; all served with amuse bouche, sorbet, coffee/tea), you see that no effort has been spared in preparing the dishes with passion and precision.  But don’t take my word for it.  Go try and see for yourself!

Menu. Click below to magnify.

2/F, Blue Sapphire Bldg., 2nd Ave cor 30th St.,
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
M, T, W, Th, F: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 7:00 pm - 12:00mn

Sunday, April 17, 2011


4.25 out of 5

Chef's Table Restaurant feels like his show ---- modern, but traditional; cozy but cutting-edge; Filipino, but world-class. Let me be say that I never discounted other establishments from being world-class. But Philippine cuisine has been so hard to to push as a legitimate form of world cuisine because of its closely-guarded (or closed-off) recipes and food presentation that leaves it unexplained to foreigners. This is why I'm so happy to see the sprouting of restaurants like "Abe," "Lorenzo's Way," "Fely J," "C2," "Mesa" and this one to show that Philippine cooking is a technical art and is comparable with the other leading cuisines.

The place is spacious, sleek and geometric. Yet, there are Philippine touches interwoven within its architecture, such as having native fiber walls. It is best described by the his architect firm, Buensalido Architects:

"The core idea is that of weaving. This act of intertwining was chosen because of its ubiquity in the Filipino culture as can be seen in different aspects of life – banigs, salakot, salakab, barong tagalog, vintas, and even the native bahag, just to name a few. This idea manifested in different levels of the design – in space, in views, in form, and in materials."

The kitchen is not just an open kitchen usually separated by glass. It is completely open with no dividers or walls, with the countertop dividing the cooking area and dining area. It is actually an ideal type of kitchen to showcase the cooking prowess of Chef Lim, who is used to cooking for the public and the media.

Before we ate, we started off with cocktails. Just like the food, these alcoholic mixes also have touches of Philippine inspiration in it. For instance, my drink, Ellen's Kiss (130 PhP) has the typical pineapple, gin and pomegranate juice found in tropical mixed drinks. However, it's laced with lambanog and lemongrass, adding that native twist. Unfortunately, I wasn't too fond of spicy hot and sweet taste simultaneously, and was a tad disappointed when they added chili to the already complicated concoction.

Ellen's Kiss (130 PhP)

Our appetizers followed: Crab Cakes (370 PhP) and Hot Rock Pusit (250 PhP). These dishes were winners and loved by all. An additional pusit was even ordered before continuing with our entrees. Interestingly enough, the crab cakes was served with sampaloc aioli. However, the sauce didn’t taste tart, and felt more like a creamy Japanese sesame dressing. Nevertheless, we sopped up all the bits and crumbs of the crab and cream. It was the perfect crabcake, bursting with juicy crab meat yet crunchy on the outside, the flavor enhanced by what tasted like panko breadcrumbs.

Crab Cakes (370 PhP)

The Hot Rock Pusit (250 PhP) was cooked between hot rocks, really! This beer-battered concoction bore the checkered rock marks that made the texture interesting and, thankfully, cooked to perfection! It was tender, tasty and the least bit gummy.

Hot Rock Pusit (250 PhP)

We might as well bring out all the bad news before raving about the rest of the entrees. The Pinaputok na Isda (460 PhP), Lato (150 PhP) and Banana Heart Carbonara (280 PhP) were the most boring of the lot. The Lapu-lapu still remained unseasoned even if steamed with lemongrass and topped with tomato concasse. The seaweed or “sea grapes” as the menu so loftily put, looked dramatic with colorful hues from the ripe red tomatoes and tiny pink shallots on top. The seaweed itself looked like tiny green gems, and were not ordinarily that small. However, the taste was unlike how it looked --- ordinary. Finally, the Banana Heart pasta was ho-hum. The banana heart was overwhelmed in the creamy pasta.

Pinaputok na Isda (460 PhP)

Lato (150 PhP)

Banana Heart Carbonara (280 PhP)

The dinner was more than redeemed with the rest of the dishes. The Corned Pork (300++ PhP) was a cup-shaped serving of the most tender pork strips on a bed of laing garnished with lechong kawali bits. I loved how spicy, creamy and intensely flavorful the laing was. And pork skin? Who wouldn’t eat that?! It was paired perfectly with tinapa rice.

Corned Pork (300++ PhP)

The Calamansi Tuyo Spaghetti (210 PhP) was bright and light, with citrus notes from the calamansi juice and tangy from the queso de bola. Tuyo oil and flakes were predictably mixed in. Though often tried and tested in modern Filipino restaurants, it was still well executed and delicious.

Calamansi Tuyo Spaghetti (210 PhP)

The Adobong Pusit Pasta (210 PhP) was a work of genius, and was even better than the tuyo pasta! The adobong pusit had a robust and meaty flavor. The pusit was perfectly stewed in squid ink and spices. I only wish it was paired with a sturdier pasta than angel hair.

Adobong Pusit Pasta (210 PhP)

Indeed, the piece de resistance was the Braised Liempo (350 ++ PhP). It was slowly braised in humba sauce. And was it ever so good! I have never seen liempo that juicy and tender in my life. I didn’t even need to use a knife, it would give with a slight shove of a fork. And the flavor was earthy and concentrated. I would come back just to eat this liempo again!

Braised Liempo (350 ++ PhP)

However, I wouldn’t have that opportunity to do so. Fortunately for the customers, Chef Lim is innovative enough to update and change his menus with seasonal ingredients. As of the moment, it has been replaced with equally tasty-sounding dishes like Chicken Jamon or Sirloin of Beef with sigarilyas.

After dining at Chef’s Table, I have very high hopes for the globalization of Filipino cuisine. It’s a breath of fresh air to have chefs who use our native ingredients proudly with such skill and technique. Restaurants like these help enlighten diners that our own dishes are comparable to those with fancy, difficult to pronounce names. Happy eating!

Menu. Click below to magnify.

Unit 106, The Inifinity Tower, 26th St.,

The Fort Global City Taguig City,

Metro Manila Philippines

(02) 399-1888

Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Friday, February 18, 2011


4.5 out of 5 stars

Enchanté is Chef Jessie Sincioco’s baby after her long-established tenure in Le Soufflé. The place is sprawling, but feels homey at the same time. Think bright yellow walls and colorful plant arrangements. However, there is something aged about the appearance of the place, a little run-down and frayed with its flowered chandeliers and vine appliqué on the walls. I felt quite the opposite when it came to the shocking red bathrooms. It felt luxurious and authentic, as if it were an annex to a French lady’s bedchamber. I only wish that the same kind of atmosphere carried itself throughout the main dining area. Thankfully, the restaurant was generous enough to include a cigar room with a beautiful backdrop of the Parisian thoroughfares.

The design and name of the restaurant gives away the French cuisine that they serve so beautifully. We started with the Virgie Ramos Salad (895 PhP), described as “pan fried goose liver, grilled tiger prawn with scallop and grilled shiitake mushroom in creamy balsamic dressing and raspberry-honey sauce.” The presentation was amazing and the taste just as good as it looks! The goose liver was seared perfectly, the tiger prawns were succulent, and the scallops were cooked just right (it had the texture of butter!). The ingredients blended well with one another; the salad didn’t feel too overwhelming even if it comprised of numerous ingredients.

Virgie Ramos Salad (895 PhP)

I got the Grilled Assorted Seafood in Berlinoisse Sauce (850 PhP). Sea bass, salmon, scallops and shrimp were slathered in a cream sauce accompanied with a wild rice risotto. My only problem was that the presentation was not as appealing as the salad, and that the staff practically used the same garnish as Martin’s ostrich. But the seafood was excellent!!! Just like the seafood in the salad, all were grilled and seasoned perfectly, nary a bit overdone. Another round of applause for the wild mushroom risotto --- Although it had a little too much greens, the flavors were rich, creamy and complimented the seafood like brown on wild rice.

Grilled Assorted Seafood in Berlinoisse Sauce (850 PhP)

Martin ordered the Ostrich Salpicao (750 PhP). We were surprised that it came out as one big slab of meat! It actually felt a little too dense and overly seasoned. I’d return for seconds when it comes to the seafood, but would probably choose another viand for the meat (such as duck) in my next visit.

Ostrich Salpicao (750 PhP)

All in all, it was a delightful new place to dine in. And it’s doubly great that new restaurants are putting up shop in areas other than Makati. Next time you find your way in the Ortigas area, you should seriously consider Enchanté as part of your fine dining options.

Menu. Click below to magnify.


3/F Oakwood Joy Nostalg Center, 17 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center

Pasig City, Metro Manila


(02) 425-2650

M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm

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