Sunday, February 17, 2008
G.U.S. NITPICKS!! (V. 16)
Another year, another birthday.
Since my extensive list of Things-to-Change-for-the-Better-about-Myself-Before-I- Turn-Another-Year-Older (Item No. 1 : Stop being so grumpy) had pretty much been left unchecked and totally forgotten, why not celebrate anyway with a visit to Antonio's, widely acknowledged as THE fine-dining destination in Tagaytay?
It had been more than 2 years since i was last here, and i was curious about: whether they have made any changes in the menu / interiors / etc.; and whether the food (oh, the food!) was still up to the same lofty standards.
Right off the bat, we got some answers. Their entrance gate and parking area had been upgraded. The interiors were pretty much the same as before, which is good, since they have quite a lovely place. You will be seated either in the outdoor dining area, or near the pond teeming with koi fish, or inside the high-ceilinged dining room.
Let us let the pics below do the talking:
Onwards to the food. The menu has been expanded, with more choices of entrees and desserts.
The way it works at Antonio's is this: You order a set menu, inclusive of House Salad, Soup of the Day, Entree, Dessert and Coffee or tea. Your choice of entree will be the price of your set menu.
We started off with 2 appetizers (Note: Not included in the set menu), Portobello Mushrooms [not pictured] and New Zealand Mussels [see pic below]. Regretfully, i forgot to note down their full descriptions; but both were pretty good, especially the mussels.
House Salad, also known by its fancier name, Antonio's Fresh Mesclun Salad from the Garden
I normally steer way clear of salads (or any kind of greens, for that matter), but this was an exception. After all, rarely does one get served a salad with raspberry vinaigrette and blue cheese. Very, very good.
According to our server, they have their own farm in Amadeo, Cavite for their supply of organic greens and garnishes, which is also sold to leading hotels in Makati.
Up next was the Soup of the Day [not pictured]. From previous experience, i felt their soup is their weakest point. It is invariably a cream-based soup, whether of mushroom, pumpkin, etc., and invariably the cream overpowers the ingredient.
Today was, regretfully, exactly the same. The Cream of Prawn Bisque was a tad too salty, and had this rather off taste which didn't go down well in our table. Most everyone gave it the thumbs-down; as for myself, i just finished half before giving up. Strangely though, my niece liked it and drank more than 2 cups!
Now for the entrees. The food was generally exceptional, so to avoid being repetitive, i'll just mention if something went wrong or is of special interest:
Roasted Duck Breast infused with Truffle, Seared Foie Gras on Braised Red Cabbage (PHP1,500)
Grilled Gindara, Prawn & Scallops on Chorizo Bilbao Rice with Parsley Chimichurri (PHP1,450)
The prawn was overcooked, and there was only one scallop (not "scallops" as written on the menu), which was rather bland in taste, too.
Antonio's Trio, Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce, Grilled Sea Bass on Truffle Mashed with Salad Relish, Honey Glazed Lambloin Gratinated with Goat Cheese (PHP1,600)
Looks like something you'd see on Iron Chef America, huh? It was almost like a degustacion menu-type of dish. My sister felt the portions were just right, and you get to sample the best of what Antonio's can do.
Grilled Marinated Lamb Cutlets with Lemongrass Chimichurri (PHP1,450)
The drinks (Note: Not included in the set menu) were equally faultless. Their House Dalandan juice (PHP150, refillable) is simply superb, with just the right balance of flavor and sweetness without being cloying; and the Fresh Herbal Tea (PHP100, one pitcher) was not bad, either. It came in this really nice-looking pitcher, which had my other sister inquiring where it can be bought.
Ah! Now for our favorite part of the meal, desserts!
Panna Cotta with Fruit Coulis
I thought it was almost too pretty to be eaten, hehe. Extremely good! I only wished the portion was 3X larger!
Profiteroles with Chocolate sauce
Not really that special, according to my sister-in-law, who takes her desserts very seriously.
Antonio's Flourless Chocolate cake
We also ordered the Caramel Cake, Vanilla ice cream with roasted Pecan; and
Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardamom Creme Anglaise [both not pictured].
The former was just so-so, while we were more divided in opinion on the latter. I thought it was really tasty and satisfying, but not everyone else appreciated the synergy between chocolate and cardamom.
After such a hearty meal, nothing's better than to laze around and relax (and ponder the meaning of life? Haha). Check out this really cool sofa:
To wrap things up, a visit to Antonio's is pricey (expect to spend between PHP1,500 to PHP2,000/pax) and takes more than the usual amount of effort. I'm talking not only about the long drive from Manila, but also the fact that you have to reserve ahead (they will NOT entertain walk-in customers under any circumstances).
But so what? The place is charming and romantic (i attended a wedding here before, and it was as perfect as can be), the Tagaytay breeze balmy; and most important of all, the food lives up to its billing, and is amongst the best you can find.
A return visit BEFORE my next birthday is definitely in the cards!
(Antonio's is at Bgy. Neogan, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 917 8992866)