Sunday, June 10, 2007


*3 out of 5 stars


One of the better mid to high-end restaurants in Serendra would be Chelsea, affiliated with M Café of Greenbelt. Serendra is already architecturally pleasing in itself, so a great restaurant ambience wouldn’t be too difficult to keep up unless the restaurant was physically deteriorating before you.

It is very bright and cheery upon entering, with shelves of different spices and ingredients for sale. It looks as if the kitchen not only flowed to the dining area, but was part of the restaurant.

Dsc00820_1_2A nice touch was that the restaurant served us complimentary Lipton iced tea, that was served with our bread starter. The bread was fresh foccacia with a whole roasted garlic on top served on a wooden chopping block. When one roasts garlic on low heat, it brings out its maximum sweetness and cuts through garlic’s tangy afterbite. The garlic served as its “spread” as one cuts off a few cloves and mashes it to the bread (without too much effort as the garlic literally melts in your mouth).

Dsc00822_1 I got Grandma’s Crispy Duck Confit and Mushroom Risotto (295 PhP) as per Anton’s recommendation in his blog. The duck was pan fried and baked till crispy and slathered with a peppercorn gravy sauce. It looked really pleasing to the eye, as it was served with a siding of roasted organic vegetables and mushroom risotto, and the sauce was artfully placed circling the meat. But it looked better than it tastes. The flavor was overcomplicated, with cumin, coriander, and oregano marinated in the duck. It even had something sweet that tasted similar to anise or cardamom pierced through the length of the duck’s thigh. The gravy was good, and was probably reduced with some alcohol, but it did not pair well with the Indian-tasting semi-sweet flavor of the duck. And the mushroom risotto was also good, but where did it all fit in with the dish? People may think that risotto paired with any pricey meat maketh a fine-dining dish, but this is not always true. The roasted vegetables may have gone well with the duck since its bland taste neutralizes the meat’s sharp bite, but you forget all about it since the entire thing is one complicated mess. To top it off, whole colorful peppercorns were strewn about the dish. It was so hard to separate it from the edible portions because there were too much peppercorns for its own good. And once in a while, you’d accidentally eat a peppercorn, and then gag as you grab that glass of water to swallow it down. In defense of the dish, you could see the effort put in, and the ingredients that were used were nothing but fresh.

Similarly, my friend Mika’s seafood starter plate (around 380+ PhP) also used freshDsc00821_1 ingredients. And you can never go wrong with fresh seafood, which is why it was still delicious even with its very simple sauce of lemon and vinegar. It had a really light taste, and had a julienne of carrots, radish and cucumber as a siding, with some quail eggs. My friend Mika said that the sauce reminded her of a Thai salad vinaigrette her Mom would make out of lemons, as well. And though this dish was delicious, I found it extremely overpriced, as the seafood wasn’t that plenty, and the preparation of the dish was quite simple.

Dsc00824_1 My other friend, Moe, had the Slow Cooked Norwegian Salmon (350 PhP). It was served on a dark Japanese-inspired plate, with salsa verde, roasted tomato rice cake, toasted pine nuts and blanched asparagus spears. The steamed fish looked kind of bland, and Moe said it was just okay. He agreed with my comment on it looking like it tasted “healthy” (Oh no! Spa food :S) . The salsa verde reminded me of pesto, because that was what was usually paired with pine nuts, though I never got to taste his dish because I was too full. I’ll just assume that he liked this dish enough to not leave a crumb on the plate. But still, Chelsea reminds me of a cooking school where they have all the freshest resources at their disposal, but then the complicated cooking techniques were somehow a bit off, as if we’ve got the end result of the culinary students, and not the chefs. Dsc00826_1_1

It may seem like I’m bashing Chelsea, but I actually enjoyed this restaurant, even if there were cooking blunders. I charge it up to the newness of the restaurant, what with Serendra being put up only recently. Nevertheless, this is a restaurant that I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit. I’d only eat here if I happened to be in Serendra, and I felt like splurging on food. On a more positive note, if you’ve never tried this restaurant, I urge you to, and you can share your comments with me. At the very least, this is a must-try restaurant for those who’ve never eaten here.

Chelsea Part 2

Chelsea Market and Cafe
Serendra Piazza Ground Level Mc Kinley Parkway, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig City, Metro Manila
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm

*No need to reserve, but it wouldn't do any harm to.


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