Sunday, February 24, 2008


2.5 out of 5 stars

Bistro Filipino is a restaurant that infuses Philippine cuisine with fine dining sensibilities. More often than not, Philippine restaurants are casual grilleries or are cafeteria-like. But Chef Laudico’s baby is able to transform Philippine cuisine into even finer dining, with the fancy interiors, high-end ingredients and impeccable service.

This restaurant has a unique and novel concept, and I’m sure there was a lot of thought put into the brainstorming of Bistro Filipino. Regrettably, it wasn’t the idea, but the dishes that didn’t fly with us.

Pao had the Binagoongan Crispy Pork (348 PhP). Described as, “Boneless crispy pork with creamy bagoong sauce served with grilled onions, tomatoes and asparagus with garlic tumeric rice,” it looked much nicer than it tasted. As seen in the picture, it was presented very nicely, with the pork and asparagus placed at a nice height, the sauce swirled around the pork and vegetables in a clean manner. I would definitely pay for the way the dished looked. But Pao commented on how he didn’t like the way the bagoong mixed with the rest of the ingredients of the dish. And he wasn’t alone.

Binagoongan Crispy Pork

I had the Mushroom Sautee with Crispy Pigeon Salad (298 PhP). Described as “Crispy adobo pigeon served on warm alugbati and kamote greens tossed in balsamic adobo vinaigrette on garlic mushrooms,” it looked better on paper than on plate. Presentation was messy, with parsley sprinkled haphazardly all over the dish. The mushroom sautee of what seemed like oyster mushrooms flanked the four corners of the square-sided plate. The wilted vegetables was the base for the pigeon that lay on the center. I found the vegetables too oily, and the pigeon wasn’t crispy at all. I didn’t like the way they combined the adobo sauce to the vinaigrette, and it tasted too salty and heavy for a salad. I only finished the mushrooms on the side, as salad itself was too heavy and oily to finish. (I forgot to take a picture of my salad, sorry.)

Julia got the Adobo Overload with Seared Foie Gras (748 PhP). The menu says that it’s, “seared foie gras on steamed chicken adobo, sticky rice in banana leaf, topped with pork adobo flakes and adobong kangkong.” As you can see from the picture, the dish looks a little scattered. My friend Bern, got this dish before and hated how they “butchered” the foie gras with the adobo. When I tasted this, I found the adobo overpowering. I didn’t eat the foie gras, but it could be easily inferred that foie gras would be overshadowed by the adobo sauce. Not my favorite dish.
Adobo Overload with Seared Foie Gras

Enzo said that he got a chicken dish that was actually good. Goes to show the hit-or-miss factor of this resto. To be fair, we also got another appetizer that was delicious. It’s called Sisig Basket (228 PhP) where it’s “spicy pork sisig in mini crisy rice baskets with quail’s egg and chicharon.” Its presentation was fun, where the tiny rice baskets with the sisig and chicharon was served in shotglass. Around six of these shotglasses were put on a metal stand with rotating arms. The vinegar was placed on the top of the metal stand. So you eat it in a step-by-step manner, or at least, that’s how we did it. Get the vinegar and place it on the rice baskets. After you eat the rice basket (in one gulp), shoot it down with the quail egg. Or you can also place the quail egg on top of the basket, but then that’d be messy. To make things short, we enjoyed eating as well as the eating process of this dish.

Sisig Basket

Pao and I also chose to get dessert. Every time we see molten chocolate lava cake or any of its variations, we always choose to get it because we’re such suckers for that type of dessert. Nothing beats gooey, rich chocolate with a moist but firm crust. Whether it be in fancy places like Aubergine or Lemuria, or cozy and simple places like Angel’s Kitchen, Fleur de Lys or even Delifrance, we’re always sure of getting our fill of lava cake. So no surprise there when we chose Molten Chocolate (198 PhP) described as “Belgian molten chocolate cake with carabao vanilla ice cream center.”

Much to our dismay, they served us with a deflated chocolate cake, even if it did take 15 minutes to make. The waiters were very apologetic about it, and I guess they didn’t want to return it back in the kitchen cos they’d have to pay for it. Being that they were very nice about it, we let this mistake go, and ate it anyway. The strawberry sauce that surrounded the dessert was delicious, though I didn’t taste much of that carabao ice cream filling that it touted to have. The cake was still good even if it collapsed, but I found it too little. Pao and I probably finished this with 3 scoopfuls each.

deflated Molten Chocolate

This is one of those restos that you’d try at least once for the novelty of it. But I wouldn’t do a second visit unless they revamp the taste of some of the dishes. The concept of blending Philippine taste with complicated cooking techniques is wonderful, but the execution isn‘t completely there yet. Hopefully, they’ll take this constructive advice and be able to elevate Philippine dishes to new heights…..successfully.

click menu to magnify

meat. seafood. dessert.

Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino, The Fort
Bistro Filipino, Net One Building, The Fort
Taguig City, Metro Manila
(02) 856-0634

*Be sure to reserve before dining.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


5 out of 5 stars

First of all, there are two people I’d like to thank in this review:
Pach, for being the first to tell me of this place. I know I only got to go to Aubergine NOW, but I finally made it, like Purple Feet Haha! Seriously, he’s a very reliable friend in giving me up-to-date resto leads, especially in the Makati and Fort areas.
Ryan, for allowing me to use his multiply resto review for augmenting to this one. In all truth, I felt half-hearted in making a completely new review after reading his stellar critique of the place. Considering that they (being him and Marts) ordered the same two of the six dishes we ordered, I felt that it was compulsory of me to use his descriptions since my words could not possibly do justice to the food compared to his. Thus, everything in quotes comes from his review. I’ll just fill in the extra descriptions of dishes that they didn’t order.
Oh, and this review also goes out to Noni, who said he’s expecting this one, haha!

Aubergine is right on the second floor of “32nd and 5th Building,” which has a big sign of the its (the building) name across it, making it less confusing for people like me who’ll find this place for the first time. Directly below Aubergine is McDonald's. Never has there been a discrepancy in food quality, creativity, and yes, price as between the two.

“The restaurant has a unique concept of having senior ISCAHM students help out the chefs in the open kitchen. The atmosphere was far from Hell’s Kitchen though…Mild mannered Norbert, Stefan, and Ulrich, though intense, weren’t shouting and cursing in the kitchen. I was delighted to see Norbert doing the final plating... ensuring dishes went out the floor spot on… He was the one who conceptualized food stations in the hotel buffets that we know today… and developed the original Paseo Uno menu at the Mandarin. The mentor of the P45’s Humphrey Navarro…they were the tag team that brought 7 consecutive gold medals in Chefs on parade.

His co-founder, Hans, was busy manning the floor, doing his rounds from table to table, acting as both restaurant host and sommelier. He was the F&B director of Shangri-la back in the day, and was the one responsible for bringing Norbert to Manila… Both of them married Filipinas, retired from the hotel industry and put up ISCAHM. I thought they wouldn’t want to open a restaurant, considering the stress of operating, but I guess they wanted a training ground for the students, giving them a feel of a real fully operational kitchen. Thus, the rationale of opening Aubergine.

Aubergine being a restaurant and a patisserie meant they offered exceptional bread they bake on their own. Good restaurants make everything from scratch, including their bread and pasta… I’m sure Ernie Babaran was behind the pastry menu and I would have loved to indulge in his breads and desserts …but I made sure to leave some space for the main event… “

The bread, as Ryan says, was chewy and fresh because it was baked by their very own patisserie. But what I also appreciated was their dip. Apart from having the standard butter, they had another spread made of mascarpone cheese and grilled eggplant that was food processed into a smooth paste. Excellent!

bread and eggplant- cheese dip

We were also given an amuse bouche (tiny bite-sized morsel served before the hors d'œuvre or first course of a meal) of spuma di asparagi or “asparagus foam” that was elegantly served in small appetizer bowls and drizzled with a few drops of cherry syrup. It was very light, yet savory….an impressive start of things to come.
amuse bouche

Dad got the Baked Oysters (480 PhP) described on the menu “with wilted spinach and crispy bacon in Champagne sauce.” Considering that I’m not fond of oysters, I loved their rendition of it! The cheese wasn’t overpowering the delicate sauce created by the champagne. And when you eat it, its taste slides very smoothly without having the bad aftertaste I usually associate with shellfish.
Baked Oysters

How cool is this?
a machine-operated pepper mill
where a flashlight turns on on the food
when the pepper is being grinded

Oven Roasted Chicken Breast (670 PhP)
From the menu: stuffed with ricotta and sun-dried tomatoes, served with seared duck foie gras, braised shallots, with balsamic reduction and pilaf-Parmesan timbale.
“The chicken was tender, and the stuffing kept its structure but easily melted in her mouth. The foie gras was just right, not too rich, and went well with the sweet at the same time tart balsamic reduction. The shallots were sweet, almost tasted like apricots after sipping her Chardonnay, and the hummus was just a great accompaniment to bind that perfect bite.”

My comment: Kuya Junjun gave me a portion of his chicken so I could comment on it. He used just his fork (without a knife). It brought a whole new meaning to the term fork-tender! The chicken was so juicy, and the rich filling of ricotta and foie gras complimented perfectly with the luxurious taste of chicken. Who knew that a chicken entrée could stand a candle to prime rib? Never before.

Roasted Wagyu Beef Tri Tip (980 PhP)
From the menu: with pan-fried duck foie gras, Port wine sauce, glazed vegetables and creamed corn
“The beef was perfectly reddish pink in the middle and charred black in its sear. It wasn’t enveloped in any herb crust, just the taste of how a good cut of beef should taste. The port wine reduction was excellent, consistency and color, and went well with my Pinot Noir. Tannic at first sip, mellow like berries with the port wine reduction after… I always liked polenta with my meat, perfect with roasts or grilled meat, fantastic with the beef I had that night. I wasn’t kidding when I said I always have a comment when we eat out, something that I would probably have done differently if I were the one cooking. This time it was the foie gras. I would have seared it more, almost close to burning it...caramelizing the outside and near melting the inside like when you cut brie…but I was happy with my beef that it didn’t matter.”

Luckily, I didn’t have the same case as Ryan. The crowning glory of my dish was, in fact, the foie gras. It was perfectly seared on the outside, and when I bit into it, it melted in my mouth in true foie gras fashion. The beef was cut in the bias and fanned out over the plate. Even if I didn’t see the “wagyu” in it, it tasted like good steak anyway. The port wine reduction with butter foam was so good that I scooped it up with my meat. And I don’t mean to butcher their ingredients, but the creamed corn tasted like mashed potatoes but was made extra special with good (and fatty, haha) cream. I also liked the curly shoestring potatoes that garnished the top.

Pan-fried Norwegian Salmon (760)
From the menu: with tomato-olive relish, saffron froth and dill flavored parisienne potatoes set on leek-porcini fondue.
Tito Victor chose this. As much as this dish sounded complicated, it looked the simplest in presentation as seen in the picture. I didn’t get to taste the saffron froth nor the leek-porcini fondue sauce since I only got a small bite of the salmon. It was good, but with all the other more elaborate dishes in the same price range, I’d go with another entrée.

Baked Pesto and Horseradish crusted Lapu-Lapu Fillet (660 PhP)
From the menu: In carrot-honey froth, set on balsamic flavored lentil stew, served with roasted marble potatoes and glazed green asparagus.
Tita Mila chose this dish. When I tasted her fish…..WOW! So much bursts of flavor in one bite! The horseradish really added a new dimension to your typical pesto crust. I never knew that you could even pair those two together. This creative idea is nothing but genius. And the plating looks good, too!

Trio of Grilled Australian Beef Tenderloin, Braised Veal Cheek and Duck Foie Gras Ravioli (1180 PhP)
From the menu: with Port Wine jus, served with mousseline potatoes and vegetable cassoulet
Gia devoured her ravioli even before I could get a bite of it. Just goes to show how much she liked her foie gras. She even commented, “Sarap ng foie gras, noh?” even before I bit into my own.

I got to taste her Australian beef tenderloin, though. It was so tender, especially considering her meat had more Port wine juice in it. Mine was a little drier than hers in comparison. All in all, her meat tasted the best of all entrees, and one of the best meats that I’ve tasted in months (not a shocker there, in view of its steep price). And her plating, without having to say it, was excellent, having the same butter froth as my wagyu.

I didn’t get to try Mom and Dad’s desserts because they were hoarding it for themselves. Neither is it in the menu because it came from their own patisserie where they have a separate menu that I didn’t get to ask for. So I’ll just attach the pictures along with the names.

My parents finished their desserts, which doesn’t happen very often. Also, the patisserie is just as creative as the kitchen…I mean, rosemary ice cream, pineapple crème brulee and Earl Grey chocolate? Who would’ve though? Anyway, their desserts look really good, as the pictures speak for themselves.

Chocolate Fondue Cake with Rosemary Ice Cream

Pineapple Crème Brulee

Freebie Desserts for us!!!
Two rows of: Hazelnut and Lemon French Macaroons, and Earl Grey and Liquor (I forgot what) Chocolate

After such a feast, there is nothing else to say. I’d rather quote Ryan, in that “Aubergine is how dining is supposed to be.”

Click to magnify MENU

Aubergine Part 2

beside HSBC, across S&R
32nd and 5th Building
5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street
Fort Bonifacio 1634 Taguig
(02) 856-9888
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Su, Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

*Be sure to reserve before dining.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mushroom Burger Royale

I think my boyfriend Pao is one of the last people to know that there's a Mushroom Burger in Manila (specifically, QC). Well, just to state the obvious, as I'm sure all of you already know this by now: there's Mushroom Burger in Manila, too!!! :D It's in West Avenue, in fact.

Lately, we've been satisfying our cravings of "MUSHROOM BURGER ROYALE" --- it's one of their specialty burgers with an egg-onion omelette in it. I know it sounds weird, but when you taste it, you'll find that it fits just right. Their mushroom burger patties have a mild flavor to it, and so do the eggs, so when you bite into it, the taste seems as if they melt into each other.

Pao has this great tip: When taking out from Mushroom Burger, drive through its neighbor across the street, McDonald's. Mushroom Burger doesn't seem to serve fries, only Oishi potato shoestrings, so tandem-ing Mcdo's fries and Mushroom Burger's burger is definitely fast food heaven.

P.S. The reason why I don't have a picture of Mushroom Burger's "Mushroom Burger Royale" is because I always gobble it down before being able to take a pic of it. Hwehwe!

Mushroom Burger
93 West Avenue
Barangay Bungad, QC

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


4 out of 5 stars

I have been a regular fan of Old Swiss Inn since the start of college (almost a decade ago). As much as college seemed like years away, it barely holds a candle to Old Swiss Inn, which had been around since 1946, the original one being located in Manila. (picture to the left is the one I frequent in Makati, care of Margauxlicious.

While many restaurants go for modern minimalist (industrialist → private joke), Old Swiss Inn revels in the traditional Alpine look. The walls are made of log timber, the stain glass windows depict scenes in Switzerland, Swiss flaglettes adorn the wooden beams and pillars….heck, even the staff has a Swiss costume on! ☺ And even if it’s been around for more than 50 years, it doesn’t feel old at all. Continued renovation and upkeep have made this place as fresh as the first time it was built, no musty odors, nor rotting furniture in sight!

The menu constantly updates itself, keeping the old favorites, but adding new dishes for the old-timers. To start with, I always get myself a Four Seasons shake. This is probably one of the rare restos that makes a mean Four Seasons since the fruits are fresh (not concentrate). Then they whip it up in different layers adding that touch of grenadine at the bottom, finally decorating it pretty nicely with a parasol hat for that tropical touch. As I said before, some of you rate the place by its service or ambience, but I am rather partial to a resto that blenders a good 4 Season Shake.

We start off with my favorite dish, and definitely one of the permanent mainstays in the menu, being this resto’s crowning glory: the fondue. Although most get the chocolate fondue, where Old Swiss uses decadent chocolate Toblerones, I prefer getting the Waatlander fondue (650 PhP), its cheese counterpart. In this fondue, you dip day-old bread (since freshly baked ones would not be able to hold its consistency upon dipping) in a bowl of melted raclette that is simmered with olive oil, a hint of garlic and a splash of kirsch (a cherry brandy). Eating this is pretty much dope for me, and I must confess to eating it every time I’m in Old Swiss. As much as this fondue is ideal for large groups, I still wolf it down even if we’re just a couple of diners. It’s also comfort food, and has the same consistent taste through the years, except for one time where they overloaded with kirsch. Remember the movie “Ratatouille,” where Anton Ego (the food critic) ate Remy’s ratatouille, transporting him back to his childhood days when his grandmother cooked the same for him? I can seem to relate with that situation because when I eat this fondue, it never fails to take me back to my college days, where we’d grab a bite here in the wee hours of the morning right after club-hopping. This transitions well into my next FYI, in that Old Swiss Inn stays open for 24 hours. Yep, it’s probably the only semi-fine dining place I know that stays open forever. And guess what? It’s now wi-fi! So as far as Makati yuppies are concerned, those all-nighter projects could be wrapped up here ☺

The famous FONDUE!

Going back to the food, I ordered Risotto Fruitti di Mare (Seafood Risotto, 375 PhP), since it wasn’t one of the usual dishes I got here, most being replaced by new ones, others still in the menu for being signature dishes. Two of my most often-ordered entrees still on their list would be the Zurich Geschnetzeltes (the latter word refers to the way the meat is cut and shredded into strips, 310 PhP) as well as the Rham Schnitzel (schnitzel being either of the upper or lower part of a cordon bleu, ). I actually like the Geschnetzeltes more. It’s basically pork tenderloin with a mix of mushrooms, wine, onions and a bunch of my favorite fatty things: cream, oil and beurre manié (50/50 butter/flour mix). It’s accompanied by roesti, a traditional Swiss siding of buttery potato pancakes. That’s not to say that Rham Schnitzel (there’s also a Paniertes Schnitzel, but it’s not as good) is chopped liver….It’s still delicious, especially with its siding of spatzle (something like Swiss pasta).

Back to the risotto, it was presented beautifully, with the Arborio rice forming a three-sided star while the seafood and tomato concasse meticulously placed on its top. However, I was mildly surprised that I wasn’t blown away with this dish compared to the Geschnetzeltes. The risotto was okay, above average at best. Sad to say, I didn’t notice anything extraordinary with the dish, be it the freshness of the ingredients or the intensity of its flavor.

Risotto Fruitti di Mare

My other friend got the Dame of Salmon (385 PhP) described in the menu as poached salmon in wine, fresh herbs, and served with a chive sauce. Fresh spring greens in raspberry vinaigrette on the side. Again, the same verdict as the risotto.

Dame of Salmon

Finally, Pao got the Corned Beef (350 PhP), Swiss Inn's very own corned beef brisket, served with sautéed cabbage and boiled potatoes. Pao also had a lukewarm response to his serving. I personally thought that it would have been better to have accompanied it with a spicy horseradish-mayo dip, which is often the sauce for this kind of brisket. But to its credit, Old Swiss Inn supposedly cures their own meats for their corned beef.

Corned Beef

All in all, I would have rated Old Swiss Inn 4.5 out of 5 Stars if not for my last visit there, where our dishes weren’t just hitting the spot. But considering that I’ve been here more than 20 times --- and that it has maintained its quality --- should speak for its reputation as a safe bet for any resto exploration. I would suggest to pick from the categories of “signature dishes,” “from the sea,” and “from the grill.” And if you’re a chocolate lover, don’t miss out on their toblerone fondue. Quite appropriate for the valentine season, if I may say so myself ☺

my MAS barkada in Old Swiss

ate in:
Old Swiss Inn Restaurant, Olympia Towers (24 Hours)
G/F Olympia Towers, Makati Ave. cor. Sto. Tomas St.
Makati City, Metro Manila
(02) 818-0098
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 12:00 mn - 12:00 mn

other branches:
Old Swiss Inn Restaurant, Alabang
2nd Flr. BMW Auto Centrum Ave., cor. Madrigal Avenue, Ayala Alabang
Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila
(02) 809-2326
Su, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Su, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Old Swiss Inn Restaurant, Garden Plaza Hotel
Ground Level, The Garden Plaza Hotel and Suites, 1030 Belen St., Paco
Manila City, Metro Manila
(02) 522-4835 to 39
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 6:00 am - 11:00 pm

Saturday, February 9, 2008


3.5 out of 5 stars

The French resto in Serendra, pronounced as KU-YER, is as authentic as one can get apart from stepping into a brasserie (check the technical definition of brasserie attached to the end of this blog) in France. The look and feel and taste of the place, apart from being genuinely French, is warm and inviting. The outside has seating arrangements for the smokers in wooden stools where you can peek through the red wooden windows, with floor to ceiling glass, and wave at the customers inside. Once inside, menus are written on walls and pillars, trompe d'oeil murals of cafes and gardens adorn its walls, and an open bar is found in the front corner of the place. The owners (being the Arce [of the ice cream] family) have certainly done a good job of decorating its interiors (interior and exterior pics care of daguldol).

The word "cuillere" means whether it's a teaspoon or a dessert spoon (where the French word is usually attached to) is a sign of things to come, as their dessert menu lists an extensive array of desserts in a separate menu of its own.

But I didn't have space to eat these treats because I was already full with my entree, Loup de Mer, Risotto au choix (Sea Bass on Risotto of choice, 895 PhP). You could choose between squid ink or mushroom risotto. I chose the latter, since I'm not too fond of squid. My twin sister got the exact same thing with two full servings of chardonnay, while my friend Bern, got the Foie Gras au Torchon (Poached Foie Gras, 775 PhP) and Milkshake (made of carabao's milk). Finally, Kuya JunJun got the Filet de boeuf, Sauce Fromage Bleu (Tenderloin Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce, 545 PhP) and beer, secretly hoping his order would be the most "sulit." Haha!(Gia and Bern in the left pic)

Unfortunately for me, I think his wishing proved true. My sea bass was huge, succulent and all those things, but it wasn't a clean fillet, having lots of bones in it. Also, the mushroom risotto was forgettable. Even if they used real Parmesan shavings, they only used button mushrooms. I was thinking they'd use something more exotic for 895 pesos.

Loup de Mer, Risotto au choix

Bern was also disappointed with her foie gras. She expected it to be served whole, seared and crisp on either ends with creamy insides. Hey, maybe she even expected it to be braised and evenly tender...but not served cold as terrine, as she claims! Terrine is similar to pate, only that the meat is chunkier and flavored in a wine and herb mixture while it develops its flavors for a day or two. However, it is easier to mix in less quality foie gras since it turns out pate-like anyway.

Well, I'm not sure why Bern thought it was terrine.... Maybe because it was cold, I'm not sure, but when you read the menu, "au Torchon," it means that it's poached in cellophane with some alcohol. I've tasted this in Red before, but I wasn't so fond of it myself because it's easy to stash it in the freezer for a while then call it "au Torchon." Either way, I don't get foie gras that is cooked terrine, poached or otherwise, preferring to stick to the more common method of pan-searing it. In the menu, this is described as, "Duck liver poached 'au torchon' served chilled with Quince jelly."

Foie Gras au Torchon

Bern also had the Carabao Milkshakes (195 PhP), supposedly one of their specialties. It was even good enough to have as a dessert (as the menu says) and I spotted my Tita's children slurping it in the front as an after-meal. It looked like a really thick (and fattening) milkshake, very rich with grated cheese on top. Although it looked really luscious, Bern said it was just okay, not something she raved about. Maybe it's because she got plain vanilla, but I'll probably have to try it myself before I can give a definitive rating. I forgot to take a picture of it, so I just used Southbound's.

Carabao Milkshake

Luckily (for him), Kuya Junjun got the best entree of all with the Filet de boeuf, Sauce Fromage Bleu. Desribed as "beef tenderloin steak on a bed of spinach and artichokes with blue cheese sauce," it was a big serving of steak, with not just a side of vegetables, but also a ceramic full of really creamy mashed potatoes. The sauce was made of light olive oil, with what seemed like either balsamic vinegar or alcohol. When I had a bite of the steak, you can tell that it was marinated for a long period of time, it was that flavorful! Moreover, the blue cheese in the sauce was there even if you can't see it that well.

Filet de boeuf, Sauce Fromage Bleu

Cuillere is a good resto as any when dining in Serendra. This is surely a place to check out if you happen to be here, trumping even the likes of its other neighbors Mamou and Thai at Silk.

click to magnify
Soups, Salads, Appetizers

Sandwiches, Pastas, Cheeses

Main Courses

Cuillere Part 2


Bonifacio High Street
The Fort
Taguig City, Metro Manila
(02) 856-3325

*No need to reserve, unless you're big company.

-------------------------- ----------------------------

Brasserie is the French term for brewery, but in actuality the French and the rest of the world use the term brasserie to describe semi-large, informal restaurants that stay open late, don’t require reservations, and may be open for several meals a day. The food is typically simple, and you can enjoy it with beer, wine, or any number of drinks. Usually the brasserie will feature a special or two each day that are typically French dishes, but the primary offerings are classics like steak and seafood.

Brasseries are much larger than bistros. The bistro tends to be a casual restaurant with only a few entrees. The Brasserie offers a more extensive entrée selection. Small bistros may have great food, and some are run by world-class chefs to showcase their food in small and intimate atmospheres. In contrast the Brasserie is not small, and frequently loud, though the food may be just as good.

The brasserie first got its start with the destruction of the nobility during the French Revolution. Chefs who had worked for the nobility still wanted to showcase their gifts and skills and began to open numerous bistros, cafes and brasseries. Importantly, the brasserie offered wine or beer with food, while many cafes did not.

While we think of each brasserie as unique, many are now operated by chain companies. The Flo chain is one of the larger brasserie companies in France, owning several well-known dining places. These include, in France, La Coupoul, Brasserie Flo, Julien, and Bofinger. Chain establishments may disappoint those who visit Paris regularly when they expect a more unique dining experience. Others argue that the food at these particular establishments is still excellent, and unlike the more exclusive bistros run by “name” chefs, and formal restaurants, it’s much easier to get a meal at a brasserie.

In addition to serving excellent entrees, the brasserie usually has several wonderful French desserts that make them worth a visit. Crème Brule and soufflés often top the list and make an excellent finish to an already good meal. Don’t forget to order french fries with grilled dishes like steak. Many argue that French fries in France are far superior to their American cousins.

The brasserie offers good food at lower prices than a restaurant. You can expect to spend between 20-70 US dollars (USD) at a brasserie for a meal. The food is typically French, beautifully prepared but is not served in the formal restaurant setting. Before dining at a Paris brasserie, or one in England, Australia or the US, inquire about reservations. In some cases, not making a reservation may mean waiting quite a while before eating, especially with some of the best-known French brasseries.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Resto List 2008, based on MBKSR

My boyfriend gave me a book for Christmas (along with other things). It's called "Manila's Best Kept Secret Restaurants" (MBKSR) by Ines Cabarrus and Elian Habayeb., I scanned and read the book, and I'm not sure whether to feel good that I've tried most of them, or feel bad that the book didn't contribute extra to my quest for the next gastronomic delight.

Not that I'd be quick to oppose their taste. After all, these writers have heavy credentials to back them up (one being a Sommelier teaching in Enderun, the other being a DJ and public accountant [huwat?!?] ). I would say that I probably agree with most of their choices, but respectfully oppose the others, adding some extras off the bat:

Fireplace grill --- haven't tried this since it's hotel food
LiLi --- same reason
Lolo Dad's --- I agree a million times. My number one!
Harbor View --- so overpriced!!!! More for foreigners who like eating without aircon, and being sprayed with mist by the dock. This resto has been open far too long (1985) without much overhaul. I think they should either improve themselves or just close down. Dencio's and Grilla's will be biting off their target customers in no time.
Casa Armas --- This used to be one of my favorite Spanish restaurants. Unfortunately, it's been depreciating the past few years. The ingredients are not as fresh, and the cooking techniques leaves little to be desired. A problem with overexpansion, perhaps?
Spirals --- yup! By far the best hotel buffet, as of the moment.

Greens --- Great vegan place, flavorful food. If only they could update the look of the resto. Not so fond of sitting on metal cafeteria chairs. But for the price, you get what you deserve.
In Yo --- Great resto for cheap fine dining. Don't expect the best quality in their ingredients (who would complain for the price?), but the cooking methods all make up for it. I wasn't so fond of the lapulapu fillet wrapped in aluminum foil, though. The piece was awfully small, plain and lonesome for such a huge steam bowl.
Katre --- Great resto, reasonable prices! Skyscaper masterpieces that look almost awfully alike, using the same garnish, but taste great, nevertheless.

MARIKINA (sic) It's really CUBAO
Bellini's --- Great resto! The owner is super friendly. The fresh pastas are to die for.

Galileo Enoteca --- Not a date place. A resto to hang and laugh with the barkada. Love their antipasto meats and cheeses.

Lemuria (revisited)--- Loving it!!! See my review.
Cafe Ysabel --- Love the free ciabattas with balsamic-achovy dip!

Cafe Juanita --- The place in itself would be incentive to dine in. Note that I would just like to visit there, though I wouldn't want to live in a place that cluttered with antiques and glass (all their furniture are for sale). Mix of Thai, Filipino and Japanese food. The bagoong rice is good, as well as their toffee pudding dessert.
Paparrazzi --- Typical Italian restaurant in a hotel. For what you're paying for, you expect food to be that good. But personally, the best resto in a hotel for me would be Tivoli Grill in the Mandarin, apart from Red.
Barcino --- Great to wine and dine in. Try their Manchego platter with a bottle of wine, their house one being as low as 320, and still decent.

Portico 1771 --- comfort food; nuff said
Piedra --- I never knew them for their food! Was always here past midnight.
Abe --- Great Filipino-infused resto. Tried their deconstructed adobo, and it was flavorful, even without the sauce.
Chef Laudico's --- I like the fact that you go to his house and stay in individual outdoor seating areas, complete with canopies and banisters. Experimental continental food, worth every penny for the work that they put in each dish. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for his other resto, Bistro Filipino, which I found overrated. As much as Chef Laudico is a highly respected chef, they presented Filipino fusion food quite sloppily there. Take for instance, the unappealing pigeon salad, which tasted as horrendous as it looked. And my friend disliked the butchering of the foie gras in the adobo. No finesse in its combination.
Cafe Caruso --- tried their pastas. It's decent. But I heard their pizzas are even better.
Je Suis Gourmand --- Love their lamb shank and duck!!! It's fine dining, with a casual elegance.
Zong --- It's good, I guess. Just as efficient as North Park, only with better ingredients. And also no MSG.
L'Opera --- I adore their pizza with salmon, capers, caviar and cream. Yes, no cheese. This isn't your run-in-the-mill pizza.

Sugi --- Consistently excellent. Which is why it's worth paying the hefty price.
People's Palace --- Some hit-or-miss dishes. Surprisingly spicy, fortunately (for me).
Lavigne --- When I eat here, their bouillabaisse was horrible. Perhaps they overchallenged themselves.
Di'Mark's --- Haven't tried this.
Terry's Selection --- Great food, especially their arroz con gambas al 'cognac.'
Kashmir --- Good Indian.
Fat Michael's Place --- Love the homey personality of the place. I liked the Fruit and Walnut Salad. It was refreshing.
Hosseins --- Good Persian.,
Queens --- I like this Indian resto, because its presentation and ambiance is wonderful.
Cirkulo --- I like their Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake...It's now known more for a resto than what it used to be: a happening bar ranking with the likes of San Mig (by the old Glorietta Quad)
Palato Fino --- haven't tried
Benjarong --- hotel: so haven't tried
Apartment 1B --- I'm not sure why the three times I've gone here, it wasn't as good as people have said it would be. So I'm going with the overrated verdict.
Alba --- Yes, a great Spanish resto, sorely lacking these days in Manila, what with La Tienda, etc. closing down
Bianca's/Carpaccio --- Exquisitely charming! It's connected to Santi's, so the ingredients are undoubtedly excellent.
L'Incontro --- Forgettable. I haven't been here in ages since the last time.
La Cabane --- Great place to hang out for beer or wine with friends. Check out the cool furniture of the place, which they also sell and export.
Som's --- Satisfies both gourmands and hungry men who aren't as discerning. Try to load up on their red curry as well as their spicy rice with basil, and watch smoke go through your ears! What a rush!
Schwarzwalder --- Consistently good German food. Has been around since forever.
Tsumura --- haven't tried.
Ziggurat --- Love the lamb with couscous. Great barkada place, especially when the inside is open. Thank god the outside is open 24 hours for those after-gimmick meals.
Old Manila --- I've only tried the breakfast here. It's good.
Paseo Uno --- Used to be the best hotel buffet, before being usurped by Spirals. Awesome interiors. Very complicated and intricate dishes.
Mati --- is now CLOSED. the only one left is Zuzuni, in Boracay, no less.
Sala --- excellent, next to Lolo Dad's.

Amoroma --- only tried the closed branch in Makati. Miss this place. A cute date place, with delicious Italian home-cooking.
Amalia's --- Haven't tried. Alabang is just too dang far. I heard praises about their Spanish cuisine, though.
Skyline --- ibid.

Antonio's --- world-class fine dining in the pretty gardens of an ancestral house. An epicurean's dream.
Sonya's Garden --- used to be the Tagaytay resto destination, before Antonio's, Massimo's and Cliffhouse came along. Still, it's good to try at least once in your life to experience the freshness of the ingredients that Sonya grows from scratch. Now includes a bed and breakfast, though I'm not entirely partial to sleeping without ac nor using a kulambo. Quite charming, though, if you're the type who likes communing with nature and all.
Cafe-on-the-ridge --- this resto of Taal Vista serves great breakfast buffets. But I wouldn't trek all the way to Tagaytay just to eat here.
Fire Lake --- Good steak, though I wouldn't go all the way just for this either.
Manos Greek Taverna --- Haven't tried.
Verbena --- I heard raves about this resto in Discovery, and I sure will try it soon :)

Personally, I would add these to the list:
Old Swiss Inn --- consistently good Swiss food, and open 24 hours a day. Arguably the best fondue.
Sango --- for your quick fastfood, with a unique Japanese twist. Opened a new branch in Pearl Drive. Yay!
Kikafuji/Seryna/all other Little Tokyo restos --- for authentic Japanese cuisine. Can't get it more authentic than in Little Tokyo itself.
Amici di Don Bosco --- For fresh pastas, pizza and carabao gelatos for really cheap prices. Not a date place, tho. Looks pretty much like a cafeteria.
La Grotta --- for your more reasonable yet fine dining Italian meals
Elbert's Steak Room --- arguably the best steak....
Red --- the other steak resto that Elbert is competing with. My favorite hotel resto, found in Shang Makati, along with Tivoli Grill of Mandarin.
Malcolm's Place --- for your wagyu fixations
Fish Over Water --- King Crab upgraded.
Salcedo Weekend Market --- ideal for shopping fresh produce, even organic ones, while eating from an array of makeshift stalls selling fine-dining type dishes in styro.
M Cafe --- Japanese inspired fusion dishes, converted into a pre-fort gimmick bar at night.
Cyma --- awfully yummy moussaka and saganaki (flaming cheese), if you're not being too adventurous with exploring their other Greek dishes.
Le Souffle --- Duh! I guess the reason why they put this is that it's no secret that it's one of the best fine dining places around. Love staying at their branch in Top of the Citi.
Mickey's Deli --- They make the sausages themselves!

Tomas Morato:
A Taste of L.A.
--- in Tomas Morato. Gosh, how could one miss this yet put in Greens!? Their pizza with lamb, rosemary and feta is to die for.
Uno --- Another resto missed in Morato. Their constantly changing menu features radical cooking tachniques, and has a similar feel as Katre.
Zucchini --- Another missed resto in Morato.

Aubergine 2nd review --- the newest, hippest fine dining destination in Fort.

French Corner --- How can one miss the extraordinary cooking of Billy King in his own fine dining spot? FYI, his claim to fame is being the executive chef at Le Souffle.

Restaurant 101
--- Cabarrus is a teacher in Enderun, the school that houses this restaurant. Maybe she didn't include it because of the conflict of interest.

Omakase --- Japanese fusion gone good. Unlike John and Yoko (gone bad).

Chateau Verde --- garden resto in U.P. Go maroons!
Pino Resto Bar --- in Maginhawa St., an endeavor by Sotto siblings, probably related to the actor. How could one not like wasabi onion rings with a yin-yang dip (alioli and something else)? Casual dining.


La Cocina de Tita Moning --- a fine dining resto serving good bread pudding, lengua, etc.

San Juan:
Angel's Kitchen --- homey cafe. love the mandarin chicken, choco lava cake, as well as their free chicken-pistachio pate on melba toast.

Cookbook Kitchen --- homey type food. Try it if only for the Scarlett cake and parmesan crusted white fish.
Lime 88 --- Street food "sosyal" style

The disappointing thing with the book is that it had the wonderful pictures of the dishes, yet no food captions. I guess I'd have to lug that big book around and point its picture in the resto itself if I liked how the food looked in the pictures so much.

Also, I wouldn't consider hotel restaurants "best kept secrets." By their very location alone, those restos are no secret.

That's about it. The book is a great guide for non-food enthusiasts, but I wouldn't buy it myself.

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