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.
"Before"
the salt crust

"After"
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


2 comments:

banonymous said...

adulterers like to dine here haha :D

Nicole said...

Hi Graey!

This is Nicole Castillo, Associate Editor of Sidetrip Travel Magazine.

We would love to talk to about you possibly contributing an restaurant review to our magazine.

Do email me at sidetripmag@gmail.com.

Thanks so much!

Cheers,
Nicole Castillo

www.sidetriponline.com
www.sidetripmag.multiply.com

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