Sunday, February 17, 2008

AUBERGINE

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.

ON AUBERGINE:
“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… “


ON THE FREEBIES:
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


ON THE FIRST COURSE:
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

ON THE ENTREES:
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.


ON THE DESSERT:
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

AUBERGINE
beside HSBC, across S&R
32nd and 5th Building
5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street
Fort Bonifacio 1634 Taguig
Philippines
(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.

21 comments:

Sakai said...

the wagyu looks good, how tender was itm i had the wagyu rib eye in DUo, heavenly... the lapu lapu dish also looks great, but i would have the lentils replaces. hehe
THe oysters look overpriced..

Anonymous said...

how about a review on the infamous
BEN'S DINER BORJER? hehe. its been said to conquer fear, and is worth dying for. haha

click the link if you don't have a clue -->
http://youtube.com/watch?v=g-jhjBJ_IZw&feature=related

Noni said...

i shall come back for the foie + roasted watermelon salad. great review grace. where are you celebrating your birthday?

graey eats said...

Hey sakai:
the wagyu was not as tender as my sister's Autralian Beef Tenderloin, but it was still delicious :D And surprisingly, my aunt's lentils was also yummy! It looked more like large couscous than anything, haha

I agree about Duo. That is always consistently good.

graey eats said...

Noni: Not sure...maybe just a small dinner at home, I think. I'll be texting you soon about it! :)

M said...

Hi! I love food and trying out new restaurants is a Saturday ritual for me. This Saturday, April 19, we tried Aubergine.

Sharing my horrible experience at at that restaurant with you -- we only ordered the wagyu with foie gras and oysters. The oysters came and went, but the wagyu took over 40 minutes -- all because the chef was outside the kitchen! It was only when he went into the kitchen that they cooked the wagyu. Which was four measly pieces of steak and 2 miniscule portions of foie gras. Here's the best part: when I complained about the delay in serving our food the the owner, he said (and I quote) "if you don't like it, don't come back." The owener is a racist pig who should not be insulting customers that have a right to complain.

Summa total: Bad service, food not worth the price, bad mannered owner. FYI to all your readers -- beware of restaurants owned by bastos foreigners. They should be deported.

graey eats said...

M: I'm sorry to hear about that! I have my own share of horror stories about foreigners myself. As much as they try to be "P.C.," they really can't help being racist sometimes. I merely write about my own good and horrible experiences when I dine. I guess it's relative for each and every person :(

Anonymous said...

Hi,

The comment of M is very disturbing the way it is written - i believe it is not right at all and should be removed.

Especially as i know the owners of Aubergine and they are not racist at all, in fact they are very nice and professional people, just check their backgrounds.

Maybe M should not eat in a fine dining if she has no time to wait.

Bob Castro
Chef

Anonymous said...

if you google aubergine, you'll find that M cut-and-paste that comment of hers in all blogs that reviewed Aubergine. The owner actually responded in The Fash Pack:

"hans schallenberg said...
Dear All,

As a professional in the hospitality industry for over 30 years and today an educator to Filipino Youth in culinary arts. Aubergine was built by us owners with the sole purpose that our students do get a professional internship in view of our schools objective to send them abroad, noteless to say to train Filipinos in international standards and for them to be internationally successful.

Considering the comment of Mrs. M Cobarrubias which is highly exagerated and form my stand point of view she would not have even let me explain more, as well, she interrupted my words all the time. However when she told me, as she was leaving the restaurant that we better would close our SHOP. Well i really told her, as quoted by her: “if you don’t like it, don’t come back.”

However the words she is using to describe me are I believe very unbecoming and untrue and in all fairness I believe this comment of her should be removed form all sites she is posting it.

Thank You

Hans Schallenberg"

M said...

Hi! Thanks to Graey Eats for posting all reviews, whether good or bad. That's what the Internet, blogs and communities are all about. More power!

Responding to Anonymous: I put up my review at the blogs I frequent, one of them being Graey Eats and another being Fashpack. Is there anything wrong with that? I like reading other readers' posts, and when I had my own story to share, I put it up.

Now to Mr Schallenberg -- shame on him. If he is really an educator, the last thing I would have expected from him is to say something like "If you don't like it, don't come back." Note that he does not deny the delay in serving the meal, or that the portions were small. It is only the comments that he is contesting. In essence -- he is confirming that I do have the right to complain. What happened to good service? To the saying in the hospitality industry that "the customer is always right?"

Mr Bob Castro, there really is a limit to how long one can wait in any restaurant -- even a fine dining one. I've never waited that long in Prince Albert. I do believe we are all entitled to our own opinion.

Anonymous said...

You guys are giving me a headache. I'm currently choosing between Aubergine and Cav to have lunch on on my bday.. apprently most restos have bad feedbacks grrrr..

Anonymous said...

nakakatawa naman si M.

"four measly pieces of steak and 2 miniscule portions of foie gras"

pinulaan mo na rin lang yung portion size, pinabalik mo na rin sana. sigurado naman ako na kinain mo rin yung hinain sayo at nagustuhan (otherwise, pinulaan mo na rin na hindi masarap).

ang tingin ko dito eh nag drama ang lola dahil sa tagal (wala naman sinabi na hindi masarap yung kinain niya- natagalan lang) at na carried away. gumawa na rin lang ng eksena- eh di pa bonggahin na para may epek.

nung kinausap siguro ng may ari to, nag init- talak na lang siguro ng talak (hindi na pinasingit yung may ari - ganyan talaga ang pinoy eh!). tapos nag cut and paste pa ng quote dito sa mga comments para palabasin na yung linya na "if you don't like it, don't come back" ay para sa delay hindi as a response sa hirit niya nung paalis na siya.

kung si gordon ramsey siguro nakaharap ni M nasabihan na siya ng F word sabay pinalabas. kung andun siguro ako nasabihan ko na ng PI yan.

racist pig pa daw ha? lol

Anonymous said...

Regarding the angst of M, truly you made your point with all the comments you've posted on almost every site that discusses Aubergine. As I've observed from the way you keep on bad mouthing the place in every opportunity that come your way, it's quite tiring and annoying already. You made your comments already and as you continue posting your negative experience, you now seem very pathetic. Other people found the restaurant wonderful and they had great dining experience, so just stop raining on their parade with your rather exaggerated litany of your "horrible experience".
Unfortunately, there are foreigners who are truly racists and very atrocious, but Mr. Hans and Chef Norbert are good people. There are just diners with bad manners and it is very unclassy to say that you 'paid for your food and customer is always right'. As a foodie myself, I've experienced worse situations, but making a scene just because my food was late and I paid for it? Well, it says a lot about your attitude.

Anonymous said...

Is Humphrey Navarro a chef at Aubergine???

graey eats said...

anonymous: no, humphrey is not a chef in aubergine. but his mentor is the chef there

Anonymous said...

I just finished my OJT at the Aubergine Restaurant. What "M" saying is NOT true. We have a system in the Aubergine that we dont really need the Chef to be around to cook the food.

-Paolo Orate, Entremetier station OJT.

Anonymous said...

The owner of the Aubergine is my culinary instructor now in ISCAHM. I've been with him now for a year. I cant accept the idea that he is a racist. His wife is a Filipina and hav 4 kids with her. He's been living here in the PH for 20+ years now. His employees are 80% Filipinos. He helped a LOT of Filipinos. One example is Chef Bobby of the Aubergine. He was once a steward but Chef Hans taught him Culinary and made him a Chef. Maybe you are just talking with your ass or you exagerate.

-Paolo Orate CEO CLCI

Anonymous said...

I'm also one of Chef Norbert's Students, and I don't think that either Chef Norbert, Chef Hans or any other employee from Aubergine can do that, We are trained to be professionals as what I have also witness with them, Aubergine is a Great Restaurant and we should be happy that we have a restaurant like that here in the Philippines. Did you know that Aubergine is on the top 10 list of Restaurants in Asia, along side with Antonio's which for your information trained under Chef Norbert As well. If the problem was your food took long, then I don't think you really understand "FINE DINING".

chef aprons said...

the dishes look tasty. do they have some recipe for that?

Anonymous said...

for miss M if you don't like the service. mas maigi pang kumain ka nalang sa fastfood. tutal gusto mo ng mabilisan. hehehe....

graey eats said...

Let's try to make our comments productive, not hateful. Everyone has the right to free expression and opinion.

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