These are not new restaurants. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time now, you know that I don’t feature just-opened establishments because I think it’s only fair for them to get into their groove before being written about. Also, I do try my best now to visit a restaurant more than once to really get a feel of the place. However, I admit that it’s difficult to haul-ass back to a restaurant that didn’t leave a good impression the first time around.
Here, a list of my restaurants of the moment.
Being at Hooters is a Hoot
You can imagine my reaction when my sister tells me that we’re having lunch at Hooters. “Jude likes the chicken wings there,” she says, as if that explanation should suffice. “You don’t go to Hooters for the food you know!” I hear myself squawk, sounding just like one of them blasted chickens before they get made into buffalo wings.
It’s a Sunday and surprise, surprise, Hooters is open. With its wooden and somewhat gaudy interior, the restaurant could almost pass for a family restaurant; the noon-day sun streaming in through the windows gives it a fairly “wholesome” air. Ahem. It’s a stark contrast with the immodestly clad women puttering around in their outrageous orange hot pants (i.e. shorts up to there). Thank goodness the three tots with us are too young to be aware of such things.
I never thought I’d step foot into Hooters, and more surprisingly, I never thought I’d actually like the food at Hooters. The juiciness of their mushroom Swiss burger (P450+ with extra bacon and cheese) astounds as does its taste. And what do you know, the chicken wings (P450; 10 pcs) are piquant, making my mouth water and flame with their incendiary (It’s Nuclear!) salty sourness.
All in all, a good meal in an environment I’m sure I’d enjoy more if I were a man.
Building D Units 1-6
San Miguel by the Bay
Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Lolo Dad’s Brasserie: Satisfactory
Even a restaurant that’s as wallet-pounding as Lolo Dad’s experiences “moving blues” once it adds another branch. So does this mean that I shouldn’t complain when goofs arise from the get-go? I’m led to a seemingly available table only to discover that it’s taken when the now-bemused original occupant comes back from the restroom wondering why I’m sitting in his seat. Eep. Then my order of the cheekily-named “Only For The Rich” salad, suitably one of the priciest items on the menu (P1,650) is poorly cooked: the diver scallops and grilled lobster are tough. Thankfully, the non-cooked items such as the prosciutto and cured salmon bathed in pomegranate-molasses dressing tossed in mesclun greens are intact (no heat, see?). Even the seared duck liver is a tad too seared, but then again it’s hard to screw up foie gras; even its oil is divine.
The braised oxtail with mashed potatoes (1st photo; P650) is one dish however that reminds me of the lofty standards Lolo Dad’s is renowned for. Its gelatinous texture makes for loud and satisfactory sticky-lip smacking. Too bad it isn’t my dish ”“ it’s Joey’s. Curses! The mashed potatoes side dish is embraced with truffle oil scents making for heady smells. But it’s impossible to even nick another forkful. Joey’s not keen on sharing food. Then again, neither am I. Margaux has the lobster thermidore with a side of squash gratin. It’s a special for the day. And only for the rich too.
Dessert is baked cheesecake (P250) and when it arrives it’s a trio of the same cake, mini-me’s accompanied with lavender and honey ice cream. How apropos that we’re a party of three since our other companions have to leave. The cheesecake is average but we’re in agreement that the ice cream doesn’t seem to complement it. As of this writing, I do hope that Lolo Dad’s Brasserie has settled into its second home.
Smoke ”˜em like Texas
I love ribs. There’s no other food that gets me as in-touch with my masculine side. Using my hands to hold ”˜em ribs, licking the smoky sauce that dribbles down my palms, and wrenching the meat from the bone with my razor-sharp (at least I like to think so) teeth, there’s no better way to celebrate the carnivore in me. Rrr.
If I have to stake my claim on one of the better BBQ and ribs places in Manila, it’d be Texas Smoke ”˜Em. Yet another themed joint in the restaurant empire of Raymund Magdaluyo, he’s teamed up with chef Peter Ayson, who coincidentally, was my classmate at culinary school. Raymund’s wife tells me that the pair, along with several other people who rave about ribs, embarked on rib joint jaunt through the US. There are photos on the wall of Texas Smoke ”˜Em documenting that fact.
Taking over the spot formerly owned by Di’Mark’s, if I’m not mistaken, Texas Smoke ”˜Em is almost disconcertingly small. My table is right in front of the kitchen, its accompanying sounds providing the soundtrack of my dining experience. Not unpleasant but not ideal. I’m surprised to see Mexican food on the menu but on further thought, it seems like a natural; Texas is practically beside Mexico and I’m a sucker for Mexican food anyway.
The menu is a thoughtful offering of dishes tailored for one’s hunger level. Because the person I’m with is an avid meat eater (you know what they say about birds of a feather…) we order the Jumbo Beef Ribs (P488) that comes with two sides; I choose the Cornmeal Plaintain Cakes and fries. The former is similar to the corn muffin at Kenny but more rustic possessing a nubbier texture. There’s also a burrito (P199) to go along with everything, a nod to the Mexican selections. Bursting with rice and meat, its errant sprigs of cilantro imbue the wrap with their distinctive aroma and taste.
And the ribs. The ribs! Straddling sweet, sour, salty and smoky simultaneously, the meat ”“ though not fall-off-the-bone-tender ”“ has every grain of its bovine being immersed in it. Restrained succulence evident in a fair amount of fat but more meat, the contentment I feel after eating a rib is amplified when I hear the dull clunk of the ravaged rib hitting the plate. I marvel at the largeness of the bones quickly piling up. That must’ve been some cow!
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
No Cheez Whiz on this Cheesesteak
I’ve not been to Philadelphia so I can’t say I’ve tasted an authentic cheesesteak. Cheesesteaks are what Philadelphia (Philly) is known for: hot off the griddle quality beef slapped onto a roll, smothered with cheese and dripping with oil. Mmm, sounds like bliss on a bun to me. I’m unsure whether Elbert’s Cheesesteak was first on the cheesesteak scene or if it was Charlie’s Grind and Grill, which I’ve not been to. Both have their ardent followers but I’ve been to Elbert’s.
Peering into the open kitchen of Elbert’s Cheesesteak, it seems easy enough to make this sandwich. Fresh never frozen slices of sirloin are cooked quickly on a greased griddle or grill, the cook’s hands blurred lightning as he uses his cooking implements to “chop” the beef to bits. The smells are incredible, and my mouth waters in response. (I can’t say the same however for my newly-washed bob cut). The oily mess is then slapped onto a bun, smacked with a handful of roughly-chopped caramelized onions and slapped with the cheese of choice that melts almost immediately from the heat of the meat.
Beef, bun, onions and cheese: choose between cheddar and provolone or get the Pizza Cheesesteak (P420) which has marinara sauce ladled over the lot, a nod to the original Philly cheesesteak created in Philadelphia in the 1930’s (now called a pizza steak).
Me, I like things simple so I go for the American Cheesesteak (P320). It’s the only variant I’ve ever tried in the three times I come to Elbert’s Cheesesteak. My friend leans over and whispers that if this were an original Philly cheesesteak, the cheese would be Cheez Whiz. Bacchus owner Alex Lichaytoo is nearby and overhears my friend’s comment. He nods enthusiastically, but like a man who imports fine food products like he does asserts, “Too expensive!”
Ah, expensive. For some people it comes down to price. The common complaint I’ve heard about Elbert’s Cheesesteak is that it’s too expensive. “P320 for a sandwich indeed!” They huff as they dig into it. As someone who spends most of her money on food (and food-related doodads) price doesn’t bother me. I believe I get what I pay for. (Most of the time anyway). The quality of the meat speaks for itself and let’s not forget that Elbert owns one of the more exclusive steak restaurants in the city where quality is synonymous with good eating; again, at a price.
Elbert’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches
Basement, Power Plant Mall