Thursday, October 29, 2009
Antonio's in Tagaytay is one of the country's most popular restaurants. It is certainly the most prominent having been the only one from the Philippines to get into the top 10 of the newly-launched Miele Guide last year.
Chef Tony Boy Escalante is a jolly fellow who loves nothing more than giving a good party, and this can be felt in every aspect of the restaurant, from the staff's crisp uniforms, the restaurant's festive old house feel, and of course, the food itself.
The Scallop Tasting (P250), giant scallops sealed in puff pastry are soft and fresh, pliable with a fork, like a seafood marshmallow, a savory contrast to the salad that comes with it – fresh Tagaytay greens like lettuce, radish, and arugula, probably picked earlier that day.
Another savory starter is the Baked Brie & Cranberry in a Puff Pastry (P300) with Pan Seared Foie Gras (P550), melt-in-your-mouth brie enveloped in soft puff pastry served with foie gras, the liver light, evenly textured, its caramel-like flavor sliding beautifully of the tongue.
It comes with greens drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette, some sweetness to cut through the subtle yet intense flavors.
I particularly liked the Steak Taretare (P700).
Served chilled, it was quite a refreshing dish, the grated radish cutting down the beef's saltiness while onions gave the dish crunch and zing.
Despite the vegetables, the dish was still too salty for my taste, so I recommend pairing it with bread.
The Tomato Broth with Coriander Dumpling is served hot.
The broth is light and slightly tart, the dumpling akin to ones found in chicken dumpling noodle soups.
The effect is stomach-warming and palate cleansing. Scooping up the melted cheese at the bottom of the bowl is a treat.
The Grilled Pink Peppered Chilean Sea Bass on Tomato Risotto, Saffron-Kaffir Sauce (P1,600) is lovely, the fish soft, grilled just right on the outside so that it has a crisp exterior while its inside stays moist.
Paired with the tomato risotto, it is a dish you will not want to share with anyone else.
The Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce, Pappardelle, Tossed Baby Arugula with Honey and Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette (P1750) was also good, the beef tender, and tendon-free.
If you want to try the sea bass and the beef, plus Honey Glazed Lambloin with Goat Cheese, you should get Antonio's Trio (P1,900).
Even people not fond of lamb will take to the latter, as it doesn't have a gamey flavor.
Eating at Antonio's may not be cheap, but each bite is worth every penny spent.
And if you like food as much as I suspect you do, you know that there is no price too high for good quality and great cooking.