Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In N' Out Steakhouse

January 23, 2008
(Now Slice N' Dice)
Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City

Me, Perri, Marge, Nikki, Steph

We've always wanted to try this steakhouse since it advertised P99 steaks! Of course we lowered our expectations because what you do expect from a P99 steak? I was amazed that the restaurant was jam-packed with people at around 8pm which was actually quite late for dinner. Anyways, we were excited to try out the steakhouse so we began ordering... We started with the baked mussels as appetizers. It was really lovely because i love the smell of butter and cheese as it browns on the sizzling plate it was served on. The aroma of the garlic oil was an added bonus as it made my mouth water. The mussel were not bearded so I spent some time biting of the mussel beards on my own. The taste was quite fine but not great. It was just enough to pass of growing hunger and anticipation for the actual main dish, the steak!

P99 only included the actual steak. Getting side dishes like rice and/or mashed potatoes required you to add an additional of P12. I had the T-bone steak on its own and savored every bit of it. The cut was kinda thin so the steak was kinda overdone. I think the server forgot to ask how we wanted our steaks cooked (or since the steak cut was so thin, how it is cooked really didn't matter). The taste was normal. Not your high-end variety steak but I must say, for the price it was not that bad. For 200 bucks you can have to steaks and you'd be so full to even care how it tasted. Again, I must reiterate: What do you expect from a 99-peso steak? So care not how it tastes and be thankful there is such a thing as In N' Out's 99-peso T-BONE steak! :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Restaurant Verbena

January 19, 2008
Tagaytay City

The night was a bit foggy and cold but inside the restaurant it was warm and cozy. What once was a resthouse of the Tiu family (Discovery Management) was now a bed & breakfast/restaurant. The interior was like any other cabin-like resthouses in the Tagaytay and Highlands area. It was really cold that night but inside the main restaurant, it was really comfortable (unless the doors were open and cold air would fly into the restaurant proper). The servers were very knowledgeable with the dishes and were trained really well. They new everything we asked them and the service was superb! Well, they ought to have excellent service for the price! More about that later, first the food...

The food arrived shortly after we ordered hence the waiting time wasn't that long. Peachy and I decided to share an order of the Baby Back Ribs. The Ribs were great tasting but the meat didn't fall of the bone. Everybody who knows Baby Back Ribs knows that the meat should be so tender that it would fall of the bone. That wasn't the case here and I was a bit disappointed. Well, that was before Aileen's food arrived. She order the Sea Bass and I felt better, "schadenfreude-ish" even! :) The Sea Bass was definitely overcooked and the meat was tough! Looking at the Sea Bass for the first time, Aileen and I immediately thought that it was gonna be a dry Sea Bass. Perfectly cooked sea bass should be slightly crusted but still leaving the interior moist. The meat should melt in your mouth like butter. Which reminds me, I should look for the BEST Sea bass next! Anyways, back to Verbena's Sea Bass, it was definitely not what we had expected. In a lighter note: Both the side dish of the ribs and the Sea Bass was to die for! Pollenta for the ribs was so good! It accompanied the ribs taste-wise perfectly. Buttery taste with the acidity of the barbecue sauce. The Sea Bass was accompanied by an amazing seeved mashed potato. If you like your mashed potatoes like butter, this is the secret to it. I have tried making this before and it's awesome! It's not your conventional mashed potato but a finer more buttery textured one. It goes through a very fine strainer for about 2 passes and that is what makes it this fine. It's great and accompanied by the "tough" Sea Bass balances the dish out, I guess! :)

I tasted Jen and Elaine's appetizer of Mushroom Ragu with Emmenthal Cheese Croûte and it was probably the best dish amongst all the dishes we had ordered. It was simply divine! It is actually a simpler term for mushroom and cheese on toasted bread but it tasted like heaven! It was so good that I didn't bother tasting their main order when it came in. I think it was some kind of Salmon dish... Hehehe!

It was my first time in Verbena and I must say that it was quite an experience! I gave it an "A" with the ambiance and look of the place, I gave it a "B" with food and presentation, and finally an "A" again for service!

Oh I almost forgot to mention about the price! Hold on to your wallets because when you go to verbena, it'll not only be a place to remember for you but also for your credit card bill! Average price per person would be around Php 750 - Php 1,000 when you go for the complete course like if you order an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. Quite expensive so all you daters out there... Good luck! :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Search For The Best: Panna Cotta

Cream. Milk. Sugar. Gelatin. Where is the best? I shall find out...

1. Balducci. Served as a slice topped with blueberries
Not that creamy, overpowering woody taste on the bottom, the inside was of perfect texture though with no vanilla bean residue, blueberries were not of the fresh kind.

2. Myron's. Served in a wine glass topped with mango puree
Creamy, milky, tasted like condensed milk, mango topping was not fresh and tasted sour, vanilla bean residue visible in the bottom of the glass.

3. Starbucks. Served in a plastic cup topped with melted milk chocolate.
The milk chocolate topping was really good, the panna cotta itself was really creamy but the taste was not as authentic (what do you expect), what was weird was the presence of crushed graham crackers ala tiramisu in the bottom.

4. Amici. Served in a ceramic custard cup topped with blueberries and syrup.
The blueberries were not really fresh. It was like the bottle or preserved kind. The syrup was too sweet and it had it's own flavor that instead of complemented the panna cotta, masked the actual panna cotta flavor itself. At this time, I already forget the actual panna cotta taste and only remember the overpowering syrup.

5. L'Opera. Raspberry Panna Cotta
The raspberries were not fresh and too tangy but the actual panna cotta itself was very very good. The perfect blend of creaminess and gelatinous texture. The taste of the panna cotta was very creamy and as soon as it melts in your mouth, the flavors of AUTHENTIC ingredients are actually tasted. Lovely.

6. L'Opera. Panna Cotta with Truffle Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.
Weird combination on paper but on the tongue, it was magic... I can't find the words to describe it. You have to try it for yourself to actually experience the magic of the dessert. The seach is finally over. It's official! I will not try any other panna cotta ever again unless it is L'Opera's!

RESULT: L'Opera

Mickey's Delicatessen

January 12, 2008
Jupiter Street, Makati City

Went on a food trip with Elaine and Jen to Mickey's Delicatessen. It was sad though that we didn't get to order the sausages which was actually the restaurant's specialty. What we ordered though was great. We all decided to get sour dough from the artisan bread area and ask the waiters to slice and warm it for us. The bread was awesome. Perfect quality (though Jen's homemade sour dough was better) and together with the herb butter, it was definitely a great start. Together with the brread, we decided to go for the pork knuckles instead of the sausages. Jen said that the three of us couldn't finish all the pork knuckles and all the bread so we opt to order it the NEXT time we go back. Anyway, the pork knuckles was very juicy and tasty. It was deep fried, yet it wasn't dry and bland. The oil didn't solidify right away which means the oil used was of good quality. The meat was tender and you can really chew it without worrying about getting meat strings between your teeth. The taste was not bland and the meat had good flavor. Not a bit gamy. I don't think the meat was marinated, only salt and pepper but it sill was very tasty. This is my first time at Mickey's and I don't think it'll be my last... not until I taste their famous sausages...

Update:

May 16, 2008

I always keep my promises so I'm back at Mickey's Delicatessen to finally get a chance to sample their famous sausages. Once again, the rain was pouring outside and I thought to myself that it was so coincidental that everytime I get to visit Mickey's, the clouds weep. This isn't quite a bad thing though cause eating while it's raining outside is one of my favorite times. Anyway, onto the sausages. We ordered the Nurnburger Sausages, which was the house specialty and a must try at Mickey's. Probably one of the best sausages I've ever tasted. The perfect blend of spices and flavor of the sausage was lovely. The robust aroma of the sausage could easily make anyone's mouth water. The texture of the sausage was quite good also. Not much extenders were put in like normal grocery sausages. You know that this one is the real deal! The sausage was really juicy and not as dry as I would expect it to be. Very very good! The sausage order comes with Sauerkraut which is an authentic German dish, literally translated as "sour cabbage". It is usually an accompaniment or used as a topping for hotdog sandwiches in the States (ala Papaya King). The Nurnbergers were also accompanied by two mustards, a basic mustard and a sweet mustard. It was both perfect dippings for the scrumptious dish. This is officially my favorite dish in Mickey's and is a must try for a first-timer in Mickey's.

Not having enough sausages, we ordered again another set but this time with warm potato salad as siding instead of the Sauerkraut. I prefer the Sauerkraut but the warm potato salad was very good too. To put some carbohydrates in our bodies, we decided to try their pizza. We ordered the Quattro Formaggio Pizza. Although we know that pizza is not one of the German's specialty, we ordered it anyway. A blessing though, because it was really good! The Lartisan bread used to make the pizza was very very good. The pizza was very aromatic and looked really appetizing. The taste was a mixture of 4 very good cheeses and I'm sorry that I was too engulfed by the thought of eating it that I forgot to note down the 4 cheeses involved in this masterpiece. My only complain would be MORE CHEESE PLEASE!

Don't think that this is my last time at Mickey's. Rain or shine I WILL definitely go back. I promise!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Chelsea/Balducci

January 3, 2008
Serendra

Finally, I was able to take some pictures at Chelsea. The last time I was here, I forgot to bring a decent camera to take pictures of some awesome food! I wanted to try a new dish so I didn't order the Chilean Seabass (again) much as Aileen would have wanted to taste it. I ordered the Herb Salmon instead and she ordered the Wagyu Steak. In Chelsea, the best part of the meal was the bread served for free... Best, not only because it was for free but because this was probably the best free-bread giveaway ever! The roasted garlic was the focal point to this "appetizer", without it, this would be any ordinary bread. Foccaccia bread with roasted garlic and rock salt to taste... simply wonderful! :)

Next up, the Herb Salmon... I thin this was a bit overcooked in the oven... The outer part of the salmon was a bit dry and bland, good thing there was a bit of olive oil drizzled over it making it a bit moist. It became better as I neared the center of the salmon cut, it became more moist and tasty. So I guess I was correct with the overcooked assumption at first glance! :)

Aileen ordered the Wagyu steak... It was kinda expensive and in my opinion, I think a good rib-eye steak cooked right can be better than any high-grade Wagyu steak! A tip though, in ordering Wagyu steak, order it medium-rare to maximize the flavor and taste of real Wagyu steak. Overcooked Wagyu steak is just not that good. Overcooked plus overpriced steak is just not worth a thousand bucks! :(

Ok, it's dessert time and it has been weeks that I've been craving for panna cotta. Aileen promised me a great panna cotta at Balducci's but she FAILED me! Well, I guess it was not her fault that the panna cotta was small and had a woody taste to it. We were thinking that maybe the panna cotta that we had was the last slice and it had a long sitting time making it smaller and less fresh. It also had a woody or burnt taste, maybe in the cooking or the utensils/container used. Panna cotta should be pure, milky, and creamy. It's flavor should be free from other flavors except for the accompanying fruit or sweet topping. Don't worry Balducci, we'll be back to "re-taste" your panna cotta to see if we were just unlucky or your panna cotta isn't actually the best I've ever tasted.
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