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… “
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!
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.
How cool is this?
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.
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.
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.”
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Aubergine Part 2
beside HSBC, across S&R
32nd and 5th Building
5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street
Fort Bonifacio 1634 Taguig
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.