Friday, May 08, 2009

Extreme Temperatures

May 8, 2009
Il Terrazzo Mall, Quezon City

A new mall has risen amidst the busy, traffic-filled interchanges of the Philippines' self-proclaimed "City Of The Stars". Established and new restaurants plus a few specialty shops are immediately visible from the outside of the mall. One of the new restaurants inside is 145°F.

The place reminded me of Je Suis Gourmand a lot and the wine cabinets adjacent to the kitchen added a bit of sophistication to the place. The kitchen was clearly visible like that of Lolo Dad's but instead of a glass divider, 145°F has a chest-level counter top to separate the cooking and the dining areas. I must admit, from the utensil to the ambiance, 145°F didn't let anyone down.

In any restaurant though, the bottomline is the food. Even with amazing ambiance, the biggest factor STILL is the dining experience. Still high from our Lolo Dad's experience and our temporary addiction to foie gras, we decided to get the Duck Breast With Foie Gras. The texture of the foie gras was nice, seared on the outside and buttery on the inside. The only downside to it was the aftertaste... There was a distinct bitter taste that emerged after the foie gras melted in my mouth which might have been caused by the cooking process. The dish may appear perfect in texture but it was a tad bit overcooked. Foie gras is very sensitive to heat. Liver easily gets bitter when overcooked and it is not as easy to cook as it looks. This is the reason why it should be cooked perfectly because even a tiny miscalculation can cost the biggest of errors. To bad, 145°F almost had it...

The duck breast too was a bit overcooked and it had a weird initial taste of wax... I don't know if the duck meat was not of superior grade but it seemed a bit off. We also had a hard time cutting through the breast part because it was a little tough. THEN AGAIN, maybe we were just expecting and/or we were stuck with memories of Peking Duck?!? The serving of the duck breast was, as expected in a fine dining establishment, a bit small so we decided to get another entrée.

Since the restaurant's specialty was steak - which is the primary reason for the name 145°F (internal temperature of a steak cooked medium-rare), we decided to try their Angus Ribeye. The ribeye was ok and it was so similar to the one at Je Suis. From seasoning to texture, it all appeared to be the same. I swear, the only difference was the side dishes. Steak was good but again, maybe we just expected too much. Maybe Elbert's set such a high standard that no steak will ever match it so far?

At 145°F, I realized that food is indeed the biggest factor but it is NOT the only major factor. There is, of course, service. Service at 145°F was exceptional! Looking at the experience as a whole, our dining experience was great and realizing that everything doesn't revolve around food is actually something to remember for food reviews to come.

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