Wednesday, April 30, 2008


4.5 out of 5 stars

quotations lifted off

"Enderun is a college that offers a full range of bachelor's degree and non-degree courses in the fields of hotel and restaurant management and culinary arts. Enderun's mission is to prepare its students for leadership positions in this dynamic global industry, not only by providing them with unrivalled professional, and management training, but by grounding them in the humanities, social sciences, arts, and practical physical sciences.

This culinary school houses not only "state-of-the art learning technologies-including cutting-edge audiovisual equipment and wireless networking in classrooms and demonstration labs" but also a culinary arts restaurant that is open to the public for dining reservations. It is called Restaurant 101, "where delectable meals are prepared by students, providing a venue for hands-on learning in a real-life setting."


There are a lot of deli-restos, restos turned boho-chic, restos in tagaytay or restos-cum-winery; but there are only a few known culinary school with a restaurant where they train their students in it. The first one I remember would be the tea house in UP Home Ec. There's also this new one of La Salle called "Solomon House." But the best and downright most impressive of them all in its class (semi-fine dining) would be Restaurant 101 in Enderun (for fine dining, Aubergine); and for the following reasons:

1) SERVICE IS IMPECCABLE - the students are manning most of the positions in this establishment from waiters, to the chefs, back to the register. Though they may not be professionals yet, their earnestness and commitment to perform excellently (under pain of a good grade, perhaps? :) make an eating experience here unforgettable.

2) THE KITCHEN IS BEAUTIFUL - If you have a kitchen that looks like this, you should expect delicious-tasting food to come out of there. Anything less than that is an insult to the facility.
Open Kitchen
found in the hallway before entering the restaurant

3) THE AMBIENCE - elegant and private. The blue lights and high benches add a dramatic touch, yet you still feel very comfortable.

4) THE FOOD - Here were the dishes that we ordered, along with the freebies:

Freebies: One of the times I went here, they served white and whole wheat buns with creamed butter. I love how restaurants are thoughtful enough to cream butter in a soft paste, making it more spreadable and the taste more rounded and subdued.

At another time, they had small kaiser buns with regular butter. The bread was really tough and hard enough to bounce off a wall. Unfortunately, I didn't like this as much the second time around.

I often order Kiwi Juice in UCC because I like the bright neon green color (probably from food coloring) and its very fluid texture. This shake is quite the opposite, being very chunky and naturally colored. I was surprised how I actually liked it, and how filling it was... and look at the awesome glass shape!

The Cream of Butternaut Squash with cinnamon croƻtons and BBQ chicken (90 PhP) was probably everyone's favorite order. Everyone loved to eat it in different ways, some dunking the chicken in te soup, eating it separately or dipping it in. The tangy taste of the bbq complemented the mild taste of the squash perfectly.

The Gratinated French Onion Soup with Beaufort cheese croutons (90 PhP) was just okay, according to my friend, Kate. To gratinate would be to cook in a sauce until the sauce is absorbed and a crisp surface forms. As can be seen from the picture, it almost looks like a crispy surface, and Beaufort Cheese, a French hard cheese similar to Swiss Gruyere, formed the rectangular center of the bowl. Even with all this work, she still liked the same soup in Katre the most. This comes to an average second.

The Baked Gnocchi Florentine (220 PhP) [pronounced NEEYOEKEE] was divine. I myself make gnocchi at home. I make mine with mashed potato and flour, then drench it with pesto sauce, some marinara and pine nuts. These dumplings are made with spinach, hence its green color, accompanied with gorgonzola sauce. You feel like it's a sin when you eat this. It's so rich and creamy, and tastes like pure cheese in every bite. I'm a cheese-lover, so I found it quite lovely.

When I saw the Penne Al la Bascaiola (250 PhP), I immediately got it, being a mushroom junkie myself. This one was made of wild mushrooms, parma ham and mascarpone cheese. It tasted a little too much like the gnocchi, though, and seemed superfluous next to the other entrees. Some of the girls didn't like it because it was too rich. The sauce was a little bit lumpy, and should have had more liquid to thin it down. I personally didn't mind that. But what i did mind was the parma ham. It had a weird taste, like it was not used for awhile. But I did like the mushrooms. I think you can never go wrong with mushrooms. Isn't the right way to spell mushrooms in Italian though "boscaiola" and not "bascaiola?"

The Smoked Duck (380 PhP) that I ordered is apparently a popular mainstay according to our student waiter, which is why I chose it. It had a cranberry and peppercorn sauce, so it was almost a combination of sweet and spicy. Fortunately, the cranberries weren't too sweet, nor did I gag and spit out the peppercorns when I bit into them. The latter had a great mildly spiced flavor, and the pepper aftertaste lasted even after you finished eating the peppers themselves. The duck did not taste like your ordinary duck since it was completely smoked. Rather than being brownish and meaty, it was rubbery and pink, and you can taste the smokiness althroughout the meat. The way they treated the duck was the most appropriate way of pairing it with this unique sauce. I found it delicious and creative, but it's not something you'll order over and over again.

The Panfried Cinzano Scallops and Prawns (450 PhP) were really delicious. I wasn't sure what Cinzano was, so I checked it out, and it said in Wikipedia that it's an Italian brand of Vermouth. I just remember vermouth being used on martini. Anyway, it had fresh tomato tarragon salsa and edameme mash. Edameme is a japanese bean, and when they turned it to mash, it almost tasted like a vegetable mashed potato. Apart from it being flavorful, with the wine sauce and vegetables combined, it was still really healthy. Even without any starch, this was still filling. I'd order this again if I had the chance.

The Lengua Estofado (320 PhP) was just okay, according to Kate. It's basically braised ox tongue with olives, pearl onions and mushrooms. They really make it a point to steer away from the typical viand and starch. This is because they don't tell you that all entrees can come with a variety of sidings, as written i the menu. So if you don't tell them, they don't serve it.

Ijin got the Garlic Steam Tofu and Seabass Fillet (450 PhP). It was served with rice pilaf. It had bok choi in it and light brown watery sauce. I didn't get to taste it, but he didn't seem blown away with it either, so I guess it's also just alright. It looks awfully healthy.

Bern and Pao got the BBQ Hoisin Baby Back Rib [sic] (350 PhP) with yellow rice and grilled corn on the cob. Nothing spectacular, but enough to lick the bone clean. I was never personally fond of putting hoisin on ribs, preferring it on one thing alone: fried duck. I can't get the salty-sweet thing anyway. At least when it was with something like peking duck, the duck's taste without the hoisin is bland; hence it really needed the hoisin.

I think the winner among all the entrees were Nix's and Jen's Salmon in a Pouch (420 PhP). It was baked with baby potatoes, porcini, roast peppers, truffle oil, herbs and caper sauce. I need not even describe how scrumptious this meal look and tasted. The pictures speak for themselves! Also, once Nix and Jen opened their pouches, you could smell the truffle oil wafting around the area. MMMMM-MMM!!!

The Aluminum Pouch

The Salmon Inside

Among the desserts, the Dark Chocolate Cream was the most delicious, since the Walnut Tort was a little too sweet, and the Panna Cotta a little too meager.

Dark Chocolate Cream with Raspberry Coulis

Walnut Torte

Panna Cotta

Also, this resto has a good selection of wines. Woody got the group a bottle of Aussi Wallace, and a Romanian White. both were very good, and even when we were done eating, was still a great way to cap off our meal.

5) THE PRICE THAT CAN'T BE BEAT --- soup for 90 pesos, salmon for nearly 400? Considering its a refined establishment, the prices are very, very reasonable. I guess it's because the resto also benefits its students: we get great food, they gain invaluable resto management.

Oh, they also change their menus every semester with the new influx of students. Right when we ate here, they were going to revamp their menu within the week, probably just keeping the favorites and best-selling dishes.

One very apparent downside would be reserving this place. Sometimes, no one attends the phone, or the school transfers your call to the wrong department. This is why reserving this place can either take one call, or sometimes the entire day at different hours whenever the school's empty or too busy. Restaurant 101 badly needs a direct line instead of having to go though the school trunk line.

Nonetheless, eating here is a fun dining experience. Among the restos in Ortigas, you're missing a gastronomic experience if you haven't tried Restaurant 101 yet!

menu. appetizer, soup, salad, sandwich. pastas. entrees.

wine list.

Restaurant 101, Pasig
2/F Wynsum Corporate Plaza, 22 F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center
Pasig City, Metro Manila
(02) 638-5555

has now transferred to:

11oo Campus Avenue, McKinley Hill
Fort Bonifacio
(02) 856-5000 loc 101
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


4.5 out of 5 stars

There are so many restaurants that I've been to without having blogged about. Some I've been to regularly. Others are so special that even if I've been there only once, i definitely knew it was blog-worthy. But there are reasons why I don't write about all of them. The most obvious one would be the lack of time. If only this were my real job, I'd be able to spew about an article per day! :) The next is that some restos have been pending for such a long time, that I prefer not to write about it. As much as I remember the taste and descriptions of the food within 6 months, after that, I might be inaccurate with my comments. That has happened with restos such as Cookbook Kitchen, Swagat and Kikafuji (which is why you don't see them in my blog yet, but I highly recommend trying them out, too). Finally, I might not be able to write about it simply because I didn't bring a camera. Which is actually the most irritating reason, especially when my fingers are itching to write about it.

A good example would be Angel's Kitchen. I've probably been to this place more than ten times, since it's one of my favorite cafes. And yet, in all those times, I DID NOT BRING A CAMERA. Sheesh. So I'll just have to make do with phone pictures. And borrow from other bloggers. Please bear with me.

Background info: Since I used to be in greenhills a lot, this would be the default dinner place when I don't feel like blowing off cash. This can even be a default dessert place (if you're into "lava cakes"!). This place has personally weathered a relationship, several friendships and a year in law school. Like a friend, it has seen me up and and has seen me down. But that's another story, haha. Enough drama, and on to the restaurant :)

The interiors are nothing to rave about, just having your bare essentials. It almost looks like an upscale cafeteria, since there are long dining tables. But fortunately, they're not communal, and you don't need to go to the cashier to order. It's not just simple, it's also neat, using big white papers as tablecloth, and has that fresh and flowery smell of being constantly cleaned.

taken from:

The menu is pretty straightforward; this is down-home cooking after all! Before you even get your order, they serve you with melba chips and chicken pate with pistachios. They are also kind enough to serve you with your own personal bottle of water along with your glasses. I have previously said in my Mamou article that I'm not fond of melba chips. But let me retract that statement. Instead, I'm not fond of Mamou's melba chips. It turns out you don't have to be in a high-end restaurant to eat great melba chips. Out of all the restos I've tried, I like theirs the best. Plus, I've never really been fond of pate. It's always been my sister who devours packets of imported ones from gift baskets, spreading them on to Zweibacks hoarded in our pantry. But I just love Angel's Kitchen's version! It is more spreadable, has a less fishy taste, and you could even see the small pistachio bits in it! Truly, this pate is pate-hater friendly! Best part is, they have a small deli store up front by the counter where these are one of the pinoy gourmet delicacies that they offer. You can even order dishes to go for parties at home!
melba chips and chicken pate with pistachios
Taken from:

During this visit, I ordered gambas al ajilio with chorizo bits (250+ PhP). What did it for me was the chorizo, haha! The dish is exactly as written. Shrimps cooked in olive oil, garlic, some lemon juice, spring onions and parsely. The chorizo bits were minced, and for some reason, did not blend well with the shrimp. But we still finished it anyway since chorizo is chorizo. I found the dish quite oily, and I probably won't experiment ordering an appetizer again, since I find it quite pricey (the main course nearly cost the same as appetizers, and they already come with rice!).
gambas al ajilio with chorizo bits

As main, this is one of my favorites. I probably order this every other time I eat here: Mandarin Orange Chicken (300+ PhP). It is basically crispy boneless chicken drenched in a citrus sauce, with candied oranges on top. And unlike the candied apricots in the Lamb Shank found in Lemuria, the oranges taste fresh and complements the dish so well! I eat some of the candied fruit with the chicken, similar to how I eat atchara. There are so many good things to say about this dish, the best being that the chicken skin still stays crunchy even with the sauce on top. And it comes with its own glass cup of rice!
Mandarin Orange Chicken

Here are some other dishes that other bloggers got to order as main (300 peso range):
Asian Beef Salpicao
Taken from:

Roast Chicken with Pineapple
taken from:

Pinakbet Rice with Bagnet
taken from:

Finally, the dessert is pure icing on the cake. Although there are others to choose from, I always, ALWAYS get the Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode (120+ PhP). Seriously generous with their ice cream and chocolate drizzles. Cake baked perfectly moist on the inside. As Pao says, "It just hits the spot." Enjoy! :)
Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode

Here is what another blogger got to order as dessert:
Chocnut Cappuccino Mousse (P138, for a slice)
Taken from:

FYI: I think this cafe is owned by a Chinese family. Added to the fact that their location is near ICA and Xavier, expect a lot of Chinese families to dine here.

Angel's Kitchen
57 Connecticut St.,
North Greenhills
San Juan

*Reserve if you're a lot
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 10:30 am - 10:00 pm
cash basis only


4 out of 5 stars

I miss the old Barcino. The one where only the "wine club" knew about. The one where my friends and I would barge in our havaianas to hide from the crowds during the weekends. The one with a quiet but cozy environment, very conducive to bonding sessions. The one where you can get drunk on wine without feeling embarrassed of being seen. The one with the 160 peso bottles of wine. (Check the menu below as proof)

That was nearly two years ago. Now, Barcino has picked up a solid reputation for fine wines and tapas. They've even expanded to real food, where some have recommended the callos or fabadas. Going back to tapas, they're written on chalkboards around the cellar/dining area, as illustrated below. My most favorite wine pairing would be ANY red with their Manchego cheese, cut very thinly and served cold. Even if it is ideally paired with a heavy red like a Bordeaux, I still found it pretty friendly with Barcino's table red. Even if it has less tannins, it still brought out the fruitiness of all reds that I've ordered there (which is assuredly a lot, haha).

Not that their quality has been inconsistent in the past. What has changed though is the impression you get when you step into Barcino. Gone is your personal extended living room, the very casual yet elegant alternative to a Makati night out. Barcino itself has been a mecca to Quezon City drinkers who find wine tasting trendy. The place is packed and boisterous during weekends, with people dressed to the nines. Expect to wait outside for minutes or hours without a reservation. I have given my cel a couple of times to the waiters so that I'd load up in Uncle Moe's while waiting for a table. Though I would not recommend that for everyone since beer does not agree with wine. Especially after drinking several bottles (of wine, that is).

Wine Cellar Interiors

Unfortunately, the poison of its success is the quiet charm that endeared me to Barcino to begin with. But that's just me. I'm sure others prefer the 24 hour party scene. To its proprietors, I congratulate them. It has hit off so well that they've opened a relatively new branch (opened on February) in Fort.

Still, gone are the 170-200 peso bottles of wine.

And a place where you can vent privately.

But there's still the great tapas. and wines. and their thoughtfulness in storing your unfinished bottles in their refs. But this only works for regulars since they throw the bottles away if its owners don't return within a week or two.

If you still haven't checked out this place, I would recommend it. But go during the weekdays since the crowds are tamer. Hopefully, even crowdless.

It's a balance of self-interest and profit, isn't it? You want it to be profitable enough to stay in business, yet exclusive enough to filter in the enthusiasts. Otherwise, an imbalance would lead to a restaurant "selling out," or on the opposite end, a closed establishment (Lumiere, Chef Ed's Toque, etc.). I wish Barcino would find its equilibrium soon :)

2 branches:


2nd Level City Golf Plaza
Julia Vargas Ave.
Mandaluyong City
(632) 636-2963
Su, Sa: 11:00 am - 1:00 am
M, T, W, Th, F: 10:00 am - 1:00 am

Rizal Drive
Forbeswood Heights
Fort Bonifacio Global City
(63-2) 4685942
Su, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa: 11:00 am - 1:30 am

Thursday, April 10, 2008

LEMURIA revisited

4 out of 5 stars

Going here again affirms my rating that this is a four star restaurant. If you haven't read my previous review on this, check it out here.

Such rating only means that the positive outweighs the negative. Enough for people like me to rave about it and revisit after some time. One of the good things I notice from the get-go is its impeccable service. When you have your car valeted, it just shows up parked in the front driveway without having to wait. The waiters are unobtrusive, but they appear out of nowhere with the slightest raise of your hand. They are kind enough to provide the ladies' bags with its own low stool. And most importantly, they are very familiar with the dishes, as well as changes that have been done with it.

Another factor to rave about would be the dramatic landscape. Upon entering the candle-lit driveway with lush side gardens, you're reminded of being in a secret sanctuary away from the congested city.

It's been half a year since my last visit. And the waiter said that they've changed the menu twice since then, changing it after every three months. Was excited to try out a totally different menu, but ordered an old-timer from the main course because it was one of their specialties.

Let's start with the bread dips and amuse bouche (freebies!)

One of the bread slices was made of poppyseed, the other wheat. It came with the standard butter spread and sun-dried tomato pesto spread. The poppyseed tasted good by itself or with butter, its fruity flavor competing with the tomato spread.

The amuse bouche was composed of tomato creme brulee and a blin. I hate how some restaurants experiment with flavors and end up messing the dish. For example, rosemary ice cream, when executed poorly would just be a waste of ingredients. In this case, the panna cotta wins snaps not just for being creative, but also flavorful. The creme in the dish was composed of a rich cheesy paste, torched on the surface. It complemented the big piece of sun-dried tomato that was found at the bottom of its ramekin.

However, the blin with sour cream and caviar was less delicious. The caviar tasted sort of fishy, and the sour cream seemed to spread the fishiness althroughout. The toppings found in this blin is the classical way Russian serve blinis, tasting almost like a savoury buckwheat pancake.

Front: Tomato Panna Cotta, Blin with Sour Cream and Caviar
Back: Sun-dried tomato pesto spread and butter

Lemuria also happens to have a winery. But as much as I was tempted to pair one with my lamb, I decided to choose a refreshing strawberry-banana smoothie since I was still curing the remnants of that day's hangover. Bodies don't bounce back the way they used to when you're in your late twenties.
strawberry-banana smoothie

We had an appetizer of Seared Foie Gras, Braised Cabbage and Fig Glaze (880 PhP). It's exactly what was written, with its own drippings mixed with a hint of fig as a glaze sauce. I would've liked my foie gras seared a little more, preferring the one that was cooked in Verbena, which was a bigger and tastier piece. I personally found this appetizer overpriced since it cost as much as my main course of lamb shank. Yet, I liked that it was paired with (braised cabbages), as its subdued taste highlighted the rich taste of the liver. Some have been paired with candied fruit, and their taste overwhelmed the liver, which should be the star of the plate.

Seared Foie Gras, Braised Cabbage and Fig Glaze

For main, I had Braised Lamb Shank, Apricots and Red Wine Sauce (880 PhP). I could see why this is an old-timer in the menu. The shank was huge, and marinaded in rich wine sauce all the way to the bone. The meat was really tender, and the portions were so generous that I didn't even finish all of the lamb. It came with a starch siding of polenta, as well as candied apricots and cocktail onions. The polenta went well with the lamb because it had a blander taste than mashed potatoes, absorbing the yummy lamb sauce quite well. However, the candied apricots was not good at all, and it actually tasted quite stale. I didn't eat the rest because apart from the stale taste, it was too overpowering, smelling like (oddly enough) incense. I finished the onions, though, because it was baked to the point of being succulent and sweet, much better than the apricots themselves.

Braised Lamb Shank, Apricots and Red Wine Sauce

The other main was Kurobuta Pork Belly (760 PhP). It was "baked in a salt crust and served with pink peppercorn sauce and fennel slaw." The waiter came over and presented the pork belly enveloped in a salt crust with different colored peppercorns. You had to crack the crust, then the waiter would pry the belly out and serve it in another plate where the fennel was arranged. Quite a unique presentation, so I decided to call the pictures "before" and "after," haha.
the salt crust

Kurobuta Pork Belly
Keep your diet at home when eating this dish. When you've tasted your first bite, you could almost feel your arteries constricting! But as can be seen from the crust it was baked in, the flavor of the belly is intense, and not like any other belly you find in typical grilleries. It is also paired with Fennel slaw since anything richer would just be redundant. As much as I liked this dish, it would have been good if they could have added a starch siding to this plate. We ended up grabbing some of the polenta from my plate while munching on the belly. Also, it would be good to have a drink that cuts through the fat and taste when eating pork belly. An iced tea or better yet, a red wine would be great with it. Finally, I wouldn't recommend getting foie gras and pork belly to follow, like what we did, unless you want to end up having a heart attack.

I thought we would have ended with a bang with our Valrhona Chocolate Souffle Cake, like the last time I ate this exact dessert. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as before. And it wasn't even the ice cream that they've changed from Mandarin Orange Glacee to Cinnamon. The ice cream was actually delicious on both occasions. I just noticed that the cake itself was smaller, and drier. As much as chocolate "lava" spewed out when you pressed the souffle, the inside wasn't as moist as I remembered. Valrhona is a brand for a company that produces high-end vintage chocolate made from beans of a single year's harvest from a specific plantation, namely Madagascar, Trinidad and Valenzuela. Adding such chocolate in the souffle didn't help the dessert bake any better, though the rich, bitter chocolate was there. This was probably just a fluke, and I'm willing to give this dessert benefit of the doubt. That's how blown away I was with the last time I tasted this dessert.

Valrhona Chocolate Souffle with Cinnamon Ice Cream

No matter how much side comments I have on this place, it doesn't erase the fact that this is one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the city, constantly innovating its dishes and maintaining its solid reputation for a memorable night out eating. This is probably one of the few restaurants I will update on more than once, twice, thrice....

menus. appetizers. soups. main.

Closed on Mondays
Lemuria & The Winery
5 Julieta Circle, Horseshoe Village
Quezon City

7245221; 7222185; 7245192; 7215352
mob: 09175250129

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