Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Places I’d bash….with pictures!

1 out of 5 stars (for all 3 restos)

I wrote in my resto list that I’d most likely bash these restaurants because of all the factors that you look into one, be it ambience, presentation of the food, the cost or the remarkable service; there is really no redeeming factor to speak of. Of course, I may be wrong now, but I wouldn’t want to go back to these places again to see if I truly am.

And off we start to number one: Gran Caffe Casanova

Dsc00809 Bern and I tried this place only because it was near my house, being located in Corinthian Hills. It serves authentic Italian cuisine, as I see the Italian owner many times roaming around, but that still doesn’t save it for me. The prices are extremely expensive (i.e. your Hawiaan (?!?!?) pizza will cost you 385 pesos, while a 4 cheese one will cost 435. Note that this is only a small pizza that can fit two people who aren’t hungry at the most. Or how about a seafood main course Grigliata Mista di Mare della Riviera? That will set you back 640 painful ones, excluding tax!) and the place is physically stifling, a cramped room evoking Hollywood boudoir that feels out of place with its surroundings.
I got the Capelli D’Angelo al Tartufo Aspargini e Speck described as homemade angel hair pasta with truffle cream asparagus and cure ham. The pasta was average, and I was grudgingly willing to forgive paying the 400 pesos for it, if only I didn’t recently eat in La Grotta, having their tagliatelle al tartufo, a truffle cream dish that was 10 times better, fit for 2 and only cost around 300 pesos!!! (post to come)

Compared to the latter dish, this one had very little truffle essence in it, and the sauce was runny. I guess you cant expect a heavy one to pair with mild angel hair, but it’s the chef’s fault to even pair it with that type of pasta anyway! Truffle cream has a robust and rich flavor, and the best type of pairing would be with equally thick pasta such as bucatini, linguine, bow tie, or even tagliatelle (like in La Grotta, though this choice may still be contentious). I barely tasted the sauce, and there was nothing special about the ham or the asparagus --- they could be easily bought in any grocery. Even the cheese used was your kraft-processed parmesan…sheesh, they couldn’t even buy it in its original form and have it freshly shaved over the pasta.

Dsc00807 Bern had the Papardelle Nere al Granchio described as homemade squid-ink colored pasta with crab meat in olive oil and white wine. Considering that this is a thick pasta, you’d expect the sauce to be creamy and rich, but again, the sauce was thin and runny. There wasn’t much crab meat, the red sauce looked unappetizing with the color of the squid-ink pasta, and the tomato toppings was exactly the same as the one used with our complimentary bread! It doesn’t make things any better that her dish cost 395 either.

Better alternatives: La Grotta
Galileo Enoteca

So that’s that, on to the next bashed resto: Paloma

Patty, Bern and I tried Paloma in Shangri-la, expecting it to be nice considering it lied on the same hallway as Cyma, SumoSam or Tender Bob’s (haha, plugging!)…. But it failed to meet our expectations.
Our appetizer Boquerones in Olive Oil (120 PhP) described as fresh anchovies with vinegar and oil dressing, was just okay. It was presented nicely on a wooden block with beds of lettuce, but the taste was nothing spectacular. To think fresh, raw anchovies would be exciting like carpaccio, but it tasted too salty and had a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste. I wouldn’t pay to eat this dish, even if the price is reasonable.

Dsc00455 We also had Gambas al Ajilo (155PhP), a very typical dish in any Spanish restaurant. You’d think that the most common dish of your theme restaurant would be the best tasting one. Unfortunately, there was nothing special about it, with the small prawns drowning in oil and garnished leaves. It’s neighbor, Cyma, would carry your known eggplant moussaka, but unlike the gambas, was the best moussaka I’ve tasted thus far.
Our main dish, Paella Paloma (495 PhP for sharing) which had lobster tail, mussels, jamon serrano, squid and sausage, write better than it tastes. Our cook at home who makes paella often, can do a better job of the paella than the one in Paloma. But I guess one thing that it never fails to do is make it look pretty, as can be seen with the picture.

Dsc00461_1 Finally, we had the Caramel Cheesecake (140 PhP). Again, it was presented nicely on a wooden artist’s palette. But by far, this was the worst-tasting dish of all the ones we’ve tried. The cheesecake was too rich, and the cheese component didn’t blend well with the rest of the cake. Also, the cream and chocolate sauces shaped as circles of paint did not taste good at all. We left it uneaten, which is unlike normal dessert sauces where people would usually lick it clean.

Better alternative: Segundo Piso/Terry’s Selection
(get the really yummy chistorrado --- Spanish rice similar to paella
with a capsicum sauce and melted cheese on top….yum!)

Last but not the least, we have: Massimo’s Café, Cliffhouse (Tagaytay)
Kit, Gia, Melo, Nina and I went here after Nina’s party because we heard about their wagyu burgers from a friend. Considering that this is an established restaurant in Tagaytay, you’d expect its extension in Cliffhouse to be just as good, right? Wrong!! This café aims to disappoint….their wagyu burgers (255PhP +35 with cheese, +75 with fries), the supposed centerpieces of this café, tasted like ordinary beef, and it was such small serving for its price, albeit sandwiched in between foccacia buns (they tasted stale, though). There was no good dressing for the burger, only a huge dollop of mayonnaise on the plate, and if you order the extra 75 PhP fries, it’s just those frozen fries that you buy in the supermarket.

Dsc00792 Our other friend got the tenderloin with brandy cream sauce (295 PhP). It was two small pieces of tenderloin, a scoop of mashed potatoes and a huge side of salad that had mere lettuce and tomatoes to accompany it. The tenderloin may have been good, but I wouldn’t pay the price for it. Or if I did pay the price such a quantity, there must be something special about it. But really, it tasted like your ordinary tenderloin which was probably local beef, and there was nothing spectacular with its cooking technique, being pan-fried.
In addition, the iced tea was more than a hundred, but it tasted like that sickeningly sweet Lipton, while the dessert cakes did not look appetizing at all... the place wasn’t remarkable eating in, either. The dining table had a tile top (it felt like a bathroom), and the café itself looked too plain, as if you knew it had a lot less overhead being just a small stall instead of an establishment where you can eat even on the inside.

Better alternatives: more pricey but excellent wagyu ---- Malcolm’s Place
less pricey but more cowboy settings ---- wagyu in Salcedo Weekend Market

Gran Caffe Casanova
The Clubhouse, Corinthian Hills, Temple Drive
Quezon City, Metro Manila
(02) 638-2989
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 12:00 mn

6th Flr, The Ledge Shangri-La Plaza, Shaw Blvd. cor. EDSA
Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
(02) 910-4096
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm


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