Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trilla in Manila 2: Lolo Dad's Cafe

with the G family

I first began coming to Manila for regular business trips since the early 1990s. I used to dread the trips as for some reason I could not manage to understand and appreciate the food. The meats - pork, chicken, beef, and buffalo were very gamy. I had great trouble with balut, and various other exotic cuisine.

But recently, as late as 3 years ago, the Makati, Serendra and Rockwell area has developed into a dining havens. Greenbelt offer cuisine at international levels. I ate at Felix at Greenbelt 5, and it was a sublime experience. I have eaten at Abe and Mamou at Serendra with spectacular cooking. My good friends RobG and Ted have both recommended Antonio's at Tagtaytay, which I have yet to visit. But this trip, I made a sojourn to Manila City (a pigeon flight path measuring no more than 4km)...a journey which took about an hour from the Glorietta area in Makati.



Lolo Dad's...Lolo in Tagalog means Grandfather...is a term of endearment by the eldest grandchild - Michelle Ayuyao. The building it is housed in used to be the residence of the father of the current owner and head chef. Set inside a tranquil garden, amidst the very busy Manila City, as one enters the compound, a sense of peace prevails.

The place is rather small...seating perhaps no more than 8 to 10 tables. But prominently displayed is a large display kitchen occupying place of pride.

The menu is a continental fusion mix...offering very interesting choices. The choice of ingredients used was excellent, all very high grade, best of class. We had the appetizer sampler, comprising of two plates of every appetizer offered:



Clockwise from top right, Seared Duck Foie Gras with cranberry compote, highland greens and black vinegar reduction, Dungeness crab salad and soft shelled crab Parmigiana, grilled prawns, Romaine Ceasar salad with Salmon Gravlax and crispy Pancetta and a six minute boiled egg.

Delectable! Some highlights...



The pan fried foie gras was excellent. The piece served was reasonably large, perfectly pan fried to a golden brown crispy exterior...and inside soft, almost liquid liver...fat and wonderful. The foie gras was smooth, and had no veins.

Appetizer plate 2:



Again from top right, clockwise: Gratinated red onion soup with Gruyere cheese gratinee, Goose Liver Terrine, Mesclun salad with grilled lobster tail, Lightly seared Tuna Loin with grilled watermelon and artichoke salad.

The foie gras terrine was again magnificent...smooth, rich, creamy. The lobster tail was also outstanding.



Very nicely grilled, just so...the meat was sweet, tender and very delicious.



Very fresh tuna, possibly sashimi grade is lightly seared, accompanied by Parmigiano cheese. Very nice.

We also ordered a serving of oysters:



Alernating: baked oysters with foie gras on angelhair pasta and garlic and herb gratinated oysters with Parmigiano Regiano cheese.

A sorbet was served mid-course to cleanse the palate



A home made raspberry sorbet was served on the reversed cover of a chinese tea pot. Inside the tea pot was probably a piece of dry ice, making a trail of mist (of CO2). The sorbet was very nice, provided the acidity to cleanse the palate before the assault of the main courses.

I had the confit du canard:



The plating presentation was excellent. A leg of duck, crisp, succulent was presented on a bed of figs, roasted potatoes, and spears of asparagus. The skin was very nice and crispy. The duck meat was a bit on the salty side, and falls short of the best I have tasted. The duck was a bit lean, and the muscular fibres were slightly tough.

The fish was also plated very interestingly:



The pan fried Chilean sea bass was done with a Dungeness crab crust and served with a sauce of potato puree and tomato cream. The bass was very nice and succulent. The meat was firm, indicating freshness. The sauce tasted like a lobster bisque, perhaps the infusion of the Dungeness crab crust had imbued it with this flavour.

The Roasted beef tenderloin was served with a veal cheek ragout



The beef was excellent. The meat was lean, but it was very tender...almost tender enough to cut with a fork. And the taste of the beef was very good. The ragout provided a nice support to hold up the flavours, not only complementing but also enhancing.

Finally, the piece de resistance...the Herb de Provence encrusted rack of lamb, served on a Roquefort cheese risotto:



The lamb was so good, we had two servings. The meat was tender, nicely done medium rare. And all the gorgeous flavours of a lamb was present. Juicy, meltingly tender (yes I said that, but it could stand emphasis), wonderful. The risotto was sublime. The Roquefort cheese provided a strong flavour to anchor the risotto which was cooked to perfection. This was excellent. The risotto is worthy a dish on its own, perhaps accompanied by some truffles. But it was also a brilliant idea to serve it with the lamb.

Truly a specatacular meal. Other than the Confit du Canard, every other dish is excellent.



Lolo Dad's Cafe
President Quirino Avenue
Manila City, National Capital Region, Philippines
Telephone: +632 524 2295
GPS: N14.572369348822628, E120.99234580993652




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