RED Garlic Bistro Cafe

The RED in RED Garlic Bistro Cafe stands for Read, Eat, Drink. Owned and headed by Chef Vincent Rodriguez, together with Kapuso celebrity, Raymart Santiago and 5 other entrepreneurs, this bistro cafe opened its doors last October 1, 2011. The curiosity to eat at this month-old bistro cafe located along Katipunan Ave. was due to Dra. Vicki Belo’s tweets about it. So last October 29, this is what the family & I had:

Santiago Chili Poppers (P195)

Green chili stuffed with taco filling placed on shooter glasses with some sort of sour cream.

Raves: I loved the creative presentation of this appetizer. The chili only had a slight kick to it, which was favorable for us considering we have low tolerance for spicy food.

Rants: I wish there was more sour cream though & that it was tidily poured inside the shot glasses. I think it would have also been better if the poppers had cheese in it, together with the taco filling (unless there was, because I totally missed it).

Score: 4 out 5 spoons.

Melon Yakult (P65)

Rave: I though the glass looked really cool.

Rant: I ordered this for Basti, and when we tried it, it tasted so-so. The melon was bland and we couldn’t really taste the Yakult.

Score: 2 out of 5 straws.

U.S. Angus Beef Shortplate (P285)

Raves: We loved this entree! The meat was tender, the sauce was flavorful and had the right consistency, the greens were perfectly cooked, and everything on this plate just went well together. I appreciate the triangular-shaped parsley rice 🙂

Rant: Dard’s (who ordered this) only rant was that he wished there was more 😛

Score: 5 out of 5 spoons.

 

Softshell Crab Salad (P260)

As you might have noticed, this should have been placed after the Santiago Chili Poppers. But I thought of arranging the dishes according to what came out first.

Well, there was really nothing to rave about this salad. The components, when combined, seemed ordinary. I was hoping for something unexpected that would go well with the softshell crab.

Rants: The salad could have used more dressing.

Score: 3 out 5 spoons.

Salpicao Medallions (P550)

Rave: The applewood smoked bacon that went with this a la Filet Mignon dish was so good. I thought it tasted even better than the steak!

Rants: Unfortunately, our waitress didn’t inform me that this was going to be served atop a grill. I believe it also wasn’t specified in the entree description. So what happened was, instead of getting a medium steak, my Salpicao Medallions ended up being cooked well-done. I would have also preferred it to have been paired with potato instead of parsely rice, unless they added a different variety of vegetables to the greens. The medallions could have also used some sauce, instead of its drippings, since the entire entree seemed dry. I also thought it was quite pricey considering the size of the beef tenderloin.

Score: 4 out of 5 spoons.

Country Fried Chicken Steak Sandwich (P290)

Raves: The country fried chicken steak and potato wedges were perfectly crisp. I like how this came in a big portion, thereby justifying it’s almost P300 tag price.

Rants: The chicken wasn’t seasoned well, so it ended up tasting bland. Yet again, another messy presentation with the shot glass.

Score: 3 out of 5 spoons.

As you can see, the bistro is surrounded with bookshelves, which promote the R in RED, as what I have mentioned earlier. The place looks inviting, with its minimalist modern design and subdued lighting.

Despite the place’s full accommodation, the waiters and waitresses managed to stay alert.

The food was good, but it was not very memorable. I also thought the prices were a bit high. So overall, I give RED Garlic Bistro Cafe a 4 out of 5 spoons.

I would like to go back there and try their other dishes though! 🙂

 

RED Garlic Bistro Cafe

218 Blueridge A Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.

Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Open from 7am-12mn.

For reservations, please call 682-1860.


Swensen’s Manila

Named after 

Earle Swensen

Swensen’s Ice Cream finally invades Manila! 🙂 I know.. This post might appear late to some who already know about it, but I’m not always the first one to know about things 😛

With international franchises opening here and there,  I was so excited when I learned that “America’s Favorite Ice Cream” has finally arrived. Located at the South Wing of Mall of Asia, this ice cream parlor was bound to hit Manila by storm. Franchised and brought in by restaurateurs, Chito and Lizzie Guerrero of Grilla Bar & Grill and Old Spaghetti House, ice cream enthusiasts like myself can now indulge in all-natural premium ice cream, with a variety of decadent flavors to choose from!

I have more reasons to go to Mall of Asia now! 😛

So yesterday, since my son wanted me to bring him somewhere, I decided to take him to Mall of Asia. After a fun-filled night of playing at Kids’ Universe and Timezone, we had dessert at Swensen’s, and these were what we had:

Oreo’s Cookies n’ Cream (P220)

Cookies n’ Cream ice cream with hot fudge and Oreo cookies.

This was Basti’s order, and it’s a no-brainer why 😛 Children (and adults alike) love Oreo! I mean, who doesn’t?! 😀 And it’s even better with ice cream. Can I hear an Amen? 😛 Mhmmm.

He couldn’t wait to try it 🙂

Basti & his chocolate-stained teeth 😛

Children are normally picky eaters, especially when there are vegetables involved. But if you give them sweets/ desserts like ice cream, you don’t even have to make a fool out of yourself by pretending that the spoon you’re holding is an airplane 😛 Imagine their ecstasy (and ours) if it actually rained ice cream, a la Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Imagining……….Drooling……….Now back to regular programming 😛

Unfortunately, my son didn’t like what he ordered 😦 He abhored the whipped cream, and by the end of our stay there, I found myself unwillingly exchanging my dessert with him 😦 Hahaha! 😀

Waffle Sundae (P155)

A scoop of ice cream on freshly baked waffle with chocolate fudge and almond.

I picked Rock at Heart, which was a white chocolate vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge, loaded with mini chocolate chip filled with peanut butter. I liked how there was extra chocolate fudge inside a shooter. It made this dessert more interesting and fun. However, I would have preferred the waffle to be crisp on the outside. Hello one thousand calories!

Water came in these cute imported glasses filled with scribbles.

Looks like somebody wants another cup 😛

Eat your heart out in this vast selection of premium all-natural ice cream and sorbets!

Here’s to reliving and making new memories while having the ultimate Sundae and Sunday experience! 😉

Frozen yogurts may have been the fad, but ice cream will always remain a classic 😉

A date with my li’l man ♥

So what are you waiting for?

Bring your family and friends to Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlour located at the ground level of the South Wing of Mall of Asia and treat yourselves to that well-deserved ice ceam dessert.

You know you want to 😉

By the way! Cash Cash Pinoy actually has an ongoing promo regarding Swensen’s! 🙂 I actually just purchased one 😛 Get this, you will only pay P299 instead of P525 for a Heavenly Fondue for 2, which consists of 4 mini scoops of Swensen’s ice cream, bananas and mangoes, whipped cream and waffles served with warm chocolate sauce! Aside from that, you will also get a Nutty Crispy Tower with layers of Macadamia and Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream with caramel, almond and pecan praline! Give in to the temptation and click on the link to this promo! 😉 For the love of ice cream, I don’t mind adding 5lbs to my current weight!


A Culinary Tour Around Asia

Though Banana Leaf has been around for quite some time now, I only got to eat there last week. All this time, I thought it was a mediocre Filipino restaurant as I kept on ignoring their branch at Powerplant everytime I would pass by! Little did I know that their menu contains a vast assortment of Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese & Indonesian fare! And what’s great about it was that everything was averagely priced! 🙂

This is a great place for those who are dining out on a budget, like us 😛 So, here is what the hubby & I ordered:

 

Stuffed Chicken Wings with Sticky Rice (P128)

Although this can be found under “Appetizers”, we opted to eat this together with our main. The portions were small, but it was only because the half part of the chicken, where the sticky rice was stuffed, was already boneless. We liked the mild sweetness of this, contrasted with the sweet chili sauce on the side. I wasn’t sure if the sticky rice was relevant to the dish as a whole though. Perhaps it was just to provide a nice surprise with a hint of texture inside.

Malayan Beef Rendang (P238)

I remember my good friend, Johmie, brought me Rendang Curry Powder from her trip to Brunei. When I got her pasalubong, I felt a sense of panic, as I didn’t know how to make Beef Rendang. And from the sound of it, it seemed complicated. I did my research and felt anxious all the more after seeing the rest of the ingredients. I thought to myself, where the hell was I going to get those ingredients, except the dried ones I luckily bought at Chatuchak Market during my trip to Thailand last year?!? When I finally got almost all the ingredients that I needed, I put on my zebra-printed apron, went to work and did my best. Surprisingly, it was easy peasy! Though I wasn’t sure how it should have tasted, because at that time, I have not tried eating Beef Rendang yet. After tasting Banana Leaf‘s version, I can say that mine was better 😛 Though don’t get me wrong, this was also good. It was mild in taste.The only downside was that the beef was a bit dry and kind of tough to chew.

Stir Fried Chinese Kangkong with Sambal Sauce (P138)

Our waiter warned us that the sambal was a bit spicy, and because Dard and I have low tolerance for spicy food, we asked the sambal sauce to be placed on the side, instead of being incorporated with the Chinese kangkong. Surprisingly, the sambal sauce wasn’t that spicy! It had just the right amount of kick for me and it definitely enhanced this simple yet delicious dish.

Penang Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Chicken (P188)

One of Banana Leaf‘s best-sellers, which our waiter strongly recommended. I must say, this was one of the best fried rice I have ever had in my life! It was really good. Well done, Vietnam!

To view Banana Leaf Asian Cafe‘s menu, click here

The extensiveness of Banana Leaf‘s menu revolving around different asian cuisines makes this multi-awarded international restaurant worthy of another visit (and another, and another :P). We had a wonderful experience overall! And for that, I give them 4 out of 5 spoons 🙂

Visit them at the location nearest you:

2/F The Podium

2/F Greenbelt 3

4/L TriNoma

G/L The Terraces at Ayala Center Cebu

P1 Concourse Level Powerplant Mall

G/L Midtown at Robinson’s Place Manila

G/L Greenhills Promenade

3/F The Block at SM City North Edsa


Songkran

It’s quite impressive how the collection of restaurants in BF Homes, Parañaque vary from cuisine to cuisine. There were some houses-turned-restaurants who were daring enough to step out of the usual b n’ b (barbecue & beer–think Central), & one of them was Songkran. Songkran, as the name & color motiff suggest, serves Thai cuisine. Authentic? Well, let’s find out.

If there was something I could eat everyday, without getting sick of, it would probably have to be Thai food. The utilization of different ingredients & spices make Thai food a culinary journey in its own right. Having been able to go to Bangkok last year made me realize that though their environment closely resembles that of Manila, their food is totally worth going back for.

I would crave for the usuals, Pad Thai & Shrimp Cakes, every now & then, & learning about a restaurant in BF that supposedly serves authentic Thai food made me giddy. I just had to try it. So after my son’s United Nations Program in BF Homes yesterday, we decided to have lunch at Songkran.

 

Condiments

(fish sauce, soy sauce, chili flakes & white sugar)

Thai Iced Tea

I like how their Iced Tea was presented. The size of the glass was also huge (compared to other Thai restaurants). However, the taste was just okay… I would have preferred it to be creamier & a little bit sweeter.

Green Papaya Salad (P90)

The inclusion of chicharon in this dish was a nice surprise. And perhaps, it was the only thing that was nice. The Som Tam, or Green Papaya Salad, tasted  a bit off. It was somewhat malansa & I didn’t enjoy this salad at all.

Shrimp Pad Thai (P140)

You can immediately see that the Pad Thai lacks some greens (like chives & cilantro). It looks dry because it WAS! The noodles were undercooked & the entire dish was blah, I mean bland. Even my 5-year old expressed his discontent about this dish.

 Shrimp Cakes (P130)

I looove Shrimp Cakes, Crab Cakes & all cakes alike! Haha! 😛 But seriously, this is a staple dish I always have whenever I dine at a Thai restaurant. The presentation was a bit messy, but nonetheless, it was good.

Chicken Pandan (P175)

The chicken was overcooked that it became a bit dry. It tasted okay though.

Bagoong Rice (P100–I think)

A bit pricey considering it was only good for one person. Said to be one of their best-sellers & I must agree! This was delicious. I just wish they would change their silverware though 😛

I was a bit disappointed with how our lunch went at Songkran, especially because of the Pad Thai. The average, mediocre taste was expected considering the price, but the failure to execute a proper Pad Thai was shameful. Nonetheless, I give Songkran a 3 out 5 spoons because of the friendly staff & the memorable Shrimp Cakes & Bagoong Rice.

Songkran

Aguirre Ave. cor. D. Tuazon, Phase 3, B.F. Homes

Parañaque City, Metro Manila

Philippines

(02) 829-2963


TDF: Dome’s Carbonara

TDF  (to die for):

Informal

1. Remarkable or highly desirable.

2. Excellent or to be strongly wished for.

3. Very good; exquisite; excellent; particularly desirable.

4. Fantastic.

 

These are exactly what Dome’s Carbonara (P270) is 🙂

I am not really fond of eating carbonara, because those that I’ve tried before tasted ordinary to me. They usually just tasted like cream with a little bit of butter, & that was it. What makes Dome’s Carbonara the best one I’ve tried so far was that perfect balance of cream & fat (butter/oil or both), with the generous portions of bacon. The taste was perfect & for P270? It was worth it. It was also worth crossing the street from my workplace amidst the heavy rains at that time 😛


Lusso

A friend of mine sent me this link to Spot.ph’s “Battle Burger”, & I remember seeing Lusso’s Demi-pound Foie Gras Burger ranked as #1. I’m not really a burger person, but when I saw that it had foie gras in it, I just had to try it. So on my & the hubby’s 33rd monthsary, we decided to have dinner there. I had very high expectations on this one, especially after seeing different, rave reviews about it. It was surprising to see that it was just beside Myron’s because I never really noticed it there since it doesn’t have a visible sign.

The place is really small & can only fit a few people, which is probably why they have more seats outside. But then again, with the humidity or hard rains we have in Manila, people would obviously choose to dine inside, unless you:

a. Are a smoker

b. Just want to be seen

c. All of the above.

Pardon me for not being able to take a lot of photos, again :-/ Feel free to drop by Lusso though, if ever you’re at Greenbelt 😉

Their menu was not very extensive, so it was easier for me to pick what I wanted–although we obviously went their for their famous Demi (which means half) Pound Foie Gras Burger.

Let me just start (although I started already ;p) by saying that the place was very elegant. t was well-suited to be placed among the roster of expensive restaurants on the ground floor of the most posh mall in Makati.

Lusso, as you may not know, comes from the word luxe. Everything in that place is screaming luxury! From the rich & tasteful interior, to its impeccable service & outstanding meal price tags. Best to dine there on the 15th or 30th of the month ;p Wink! 😉

 

Check out the chandelier 😉

For our starters, I ordered:

Lusso Truffle Potato Chips (P150)

This really was a no-brainer for me, after seeing “truffle” on the menu 😛 Haha! Me & my addiction to truffle. If they came out with a bag of this commercially, I’d hoard a bunch of it! 😀

For the main event, I ordered:

Lusso Foie Gras Burger (P595)

I like how they placed the fries on top of that spoon-looking container 😛 It made me realize how I didn’t want to share my fries with Dard anymore because of its measley portion! Can you count how many fries there are? 1… 2… 3… 4… 5 🙂 I thought the side salad that came with the burger was irrelevant. It didn’t really enhance the dish as a whole nor did it do anything gastronomically satisfying. I wish they just replaced the salad with more fries. I know, me & my fries. I’m not really a fries person (here I go again…), but that Cambozola (cheese) bath just made it so darn good! I’d like to swim in that bath please 😀 Decadent, dreamy, delightful. The cambozola bath added A LOT to this dish.

Now on to the burger. I was surprised that the bread was crisp. Not your typical burger bun. I prefer my buns to be soft. Lol ;p That didn’t sound right 😀 So I took my first bite & well… Expectations failed. I thought to myself, it was yet another overrated restaurant, who’s reputation spread like wildfire, commended for its luxurious food. But is it really the food that’s worth all the buzz? Or just the glass chandeliers, Malachite mirror & slipper chairs? So what was this much-talked about half-pound burger like? Well, it had a hefty portion, it was perfectly cooked & juicy (literally juice oozing out when you press on it), BUT I thought it could have been more savory. The taste, for me, was mild. The portion of the foie gras encapsulated inside the patty was generous, though I appreciate eating foie gras better by itself or atop something like a slab of steak or a salad.

On the other hand, this is what I regretfully ordered for the hubby:

Luxe Mac and Cheese (P495)

What caught my attention that consequently made me order this was that it really isn’t your ordinary mac n’ cheese. This luxe mac n’ cheese is packed with pancetta & formaggio trio (3 kinds of cheese). I also had high expectations on this one, but unfortunately, it was such a rip-off. The pasta they used wasn’t exactly macaroni, though it tasted like macaroni. As Dard said, this tasted like those instant mac n’ cheese that you buy in the States. OMG, for P495! Though I would understand, because the ingredients are expensive, but with the taste? It just wasn’t worth it.

So how was our experience at Lusso? You can say I felt embarrassed for even asking Dard to take me there. Yes, the food was luxurious, & so was the ambiance, not to mention the price. But are we going back? Probably not.

I give Lusso a 4 out of 5 stars, just because of the luxury & everything else I’ve mentioned about positively.


Crisostomo

Watching a movie at Newport gives me a pleasurable opportunity to dine at a restaurant I haven’t tried there 🙂 So yesterday, before watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I decided to try Crisostomo. The waiters & waitresses were very accommodating, & made sure I was comfortable & well-attended to.

Before I proceed to my review, let me just warn you that the photos you are about to see are of bad quality since they were only taken with my mobile phone because my digi cam’s memory card got corrupted 😦

For starters:

 

A bowl of cornick

I’m not sure if I got the spelling right, but cornick is a crunchy corn kernel, which is common here in the Philippines as a snack. Very Filipino for a starter.

For our appetizer, since I was craving for something healthy, I ordered a:

Crispy Beef Y Albino (P250)

Crispy beef tapa with kesong puti salad

The main components, being the crispy beef tapa & the kesong puti, tempted me enough to order this salad. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I tried to eat the components separately & ate everything altogether, but sadly, it didn’t create a ‘wow’ factor for me. The beef tapa was crisped to perfection, though the taste was very mild. I thought it could have used some saltiness so it would have balanced out the already mild taste of the kesong puti.

For refreshment, I had their:

Kalamansi Malunggay Juice (P98)

Very mild in taste & sweetness, & thankfully, there was no hint of moringa (or that would have tasted weird?). This beverage was truly refreshing & best of all, it’s healthy! Best enjoyed bottomless 😉

For our main, with hubby in mind, I ordered some of his favorite Filipino dishes:

Cabra (Kalderetang Kambing) P395

Okay, first of all, I didn’t know Kaldereta was really supposed to have cheese. So I was very pleased when I saw a delectable amount of melted cheese on top of this crowd favorite. The meat was very tender & the amount of spiciness it had was perfect for me. This dish shone the brightest among all the entree we ordered. This was good for 2 persons.

I know this is best paired with plain rice, but I wanted to try one of Crisostomo’s rice dishes.

 

Adobo Rice (P250)

I thought the rice was a bit too wet. It had a nice surprise inside though–melted kesong puti! 😀 What a treat for cheese lovers like me 😛 This was good for 3 persons.

Another entree I ordered was an interesting fusion of Japanese & Filipino.

Legazpi (P495)

Tempura style prawns with laing & crab fat sauce

There were 5 pieces of prawns in one order, so you can say that this dish was good for 2 persons. I was uncertain if I liked this dish, but my judgment was inclined more towards the south pole. I thought it tasted weird because it didn’t quite work for me. Fortunately though, the hubby liked it, so that was all that mattered. This dish is probably something that others will love & others will dislike.

A quick look at Crisostomo at Resorts World:

And that’s me 🙂

I would definitely come back to try their other offerings, like their Crispy Pata, Pork Binagoongan, Kare-Kare, Sizzling Tofu, Sisig & Lengua, to name a few. Hubby enjoyed every dish I ordered, so that was good 🙂 Overall, I give Crisostomo a 4 out 5 stars! 😉

Check them out on the 2/F of Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila & on the 2/F of Eastwood Mall Veranda. Happy eating! 😀