Monthly Archives: July 2016

Bake ‘n Bacon

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Bacon.

Bacon.

Pretty much everyone loves this stuff and you’d actually be hard-pressed to find an individual who doesn’t. I myself am a huge fan of bacon – Whether it’s served with rice and scrambled eggs, paired up with pancakes, or sandwiched between two pieces of toasted bread, whether it’s soggy bacon or crispy bacon, or whether it’s turkey bacon, smoked bacon, honeycured bacon, candied bacon or maple bacon… It’s just one of the types of food that I can’t say no to.

Anyway, the reason why I’m talking about bacon because of the fact that a bacon-themed restaurant called Bake ‘n Bacon opened up in Solenad recently. And while I usually hold off these newer restaurants until later, I ended up choosing this place to have lunch in before heading back to Manila, because… Well, it’s a bacon-themed restaurant.

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Interior.

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Menu.

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Corn Dogs for our appetizer. The small bite-sized pieces of hotdog were wrapped with strips of bacon.

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Wafflewich with Sides and Drink. This dish comes with two choices for the filling – A plain ol’ burger patty, or, as seen here, a piece of maple fried chicken fillet. It comes with sides too, and I chose their Bacon Fries and Skins, which had a decent amount of salt and were fried to a crisp.  The chicken fillet itself was moist and juicy, but it could use a little more salt (and more maple syrup!).

Well the presentation is great no doubt, but they still need a couple more improvements when it comes to the taste. For now I’ll give them a pass since they’re a new resto, but I really hope that their dishes taste twice as better when get the chance to eat here again.

Ambiance/Interior: 4.5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 3.5/5 (taste), 4.5/5 (presentation)

Bake ‘n Bacon is located at G/F Solenad 3, Nuvali, Sta Rosa – Tagaytay Rd Santa Rosa, Laguna. Tel no: (0919) 999-8529. Links: Facebook || Twitter || IG: @bakenbaconph

Bistro Charlemagne 

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It’s my dad’s birthday, which basically means that we had to go somewhere far away from the city to celebrate. This year, we ended up choosing a hotel in Sta. Rosa Laguna, just a few kilometers away from my favorite hangout spot – Solenad Nuvali! And I was actually delighted since I’ll get the chance to review two restaurants in that area.

The first restaurant that I chose was Bistro Charlemagne, a sister restaurant of Little Asia in Tomas Morato. Even though they still serve Asian food, this resto also makes delectable European and American dishes. Bistro Charlemagne has also had the privilege of catering to some of the music industry’s hottest acts when they had their concerts here in the PH – Katy Perry, The Smashing Pumpkins, Paramore, and Ariana Grande, to name a few (Celebrity chef Martin Yan also created a dish for the bistro when he visited the country).

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Interior.

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Menu: Salads, Soups, Appetizers, Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Vegetables, Pasta/Noodles, Desserts, Set Menu, Drinks.

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Fish Stuffed with Laing – Creamy fish stuffed with taro leaves cooked in coconut cream, flavored with minced pork and spiced with fresh chili fingers. Preparation of this dish requires at least 20 minutes.

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Beef Tenderloin Rolls with Cheese – Finely rolled strips of beef tenderloin with cheese sautéed in authentic teriyaki sauce. This is one of Bistro Charlemagne’s signature dishes and is said to be a favorite among their kiddie customers. Well, I have to say that this dish captured my heart too – I loved the tenderness of the beef strips, and the fact that they used cream cheese for the beef’s filling instead of just regular cheese cubes. The name/look of this dish might be slightly off-putting at first, but believe me – It’s a definite must-try.

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Coconut Fish Fillet – Fried fish fillets covered in coconut cream sauce, mixed spices, and basil. You can taste a hint of spiciness in the curry, which was a pleasant surprised my palate. The pieces of fried fish fillets practically melted in my mouth – Although my mom did find a small piece of fish bone while eating this dish…

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Yang Chow Fried Rice – With pork asado, shrimp, leek, lettuce, carrots, green peas, and eggs.

Well I have to say that Little Asia really knows their stuff when it comes to making delicious Asian food, since all of their sister restaurants, as well as the main Little Asia restaurant itself, of course, have really impressed me so far. Bistro Charlemagne’s food was great, and is one of the many must-visit restaurants in the Solenad/Nuvali area. I’m actually hoping that the Hollywood celebs that they catered to were impressed by the food as well, hehe.

Ambiance/Interior: 4/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5 (taste), 4/5 (presentation)

Bistro Charlemagne is located at Solenad 3, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay road, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Tel no: (049) 5445588. Links: Facebook || IG: @bistrocharlemagne.

LES Bagels

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LES Bagels, a bagel shop owned by the same people behind New York-inspired restaurants like Nolita and Borough, recently opened up a second branch at The Podium. The ‘LES’ part of the resto’s name stands for Lower East Side, and as everyone knows, The Big Apple and its residents have an undying love for bagels and bagel sandwiches. I was really happy that they opened up a restaurant near where I live, since their other branch was located in McKinley Hill which is a little bit too far from my hometown.

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Interior, featuring the obligatory pastry/dessert counter shot. You can try out samples of their homemade cream cheese.

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Menu shots.

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More menu shots… Pretty much the same thing.

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Pizza Bagel Melt – Choice of bagel with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Served nice and hot. The tomato sauce blended really well with the taste of the mozzarella. As for the bagel, it was… Decent, but some parts were a tad bit too chewy for my liking.

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Bacon, Cheddar, and Blueberry bagel with cream cheese. We had it on a sesame seed bagel. The cheese kinda overpowered the bacon/cream cheese and I could barely taste the blueberry. :\

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Our two desserts consisted of the Homemade Oreo (left) and the Raspberry Cheesecake (right). The Homemade Oreo was so-so – Even real Oreos taste much better than this… Sorry! And as for the cheesecake, the chocolate base was overwhelmingly sweet at times.

We left the resto feeling full, but slightly disappointed. IDK, I feel like this restaurant seems really promising but everything was just executed poorly – It’s either that, or Pinoys aren’t really ready to welcome the bagel craze just yet.

Ambiance/Interior: 4/5
Staff/Service: 4.5/5
Food: 3.5/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

LES Bagels is located at The Podium, ADB Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. You can also find them at McKinley Hill in Taguig. Links: Facebook.

 

The Gardens Brunch Cafe and Social House

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Since we weren’t able to do a review last Saturday (we had to go to the hospital for a checkup), we headed over to The Grove the following evening to eat at this brunch restaurant called The Gardens. Okay, I have a confession to make: Honestly, I’ve been to The Grove a couple of times now but for some reason the name of this place always escapes me, and there are even instances when I would forget that this restaurant even exists (prior to this entry, obviously). Probably because I would always get distracted by the other restaurants/cafes found on Retail Row, like the ones that I’ve reviewed before and the ones that I have yet to review (speaking of which, I’m still in shock over the fact that Precynct had to close! I totally did not expect that at all… Didn’t even get to try their coffee T_T).

Anyway, even though I already had an idea that The Gardens served breakfast/brunch/organic food, I couldn’t find any additional info about the restaurant itself, which I found slightly puzzling – So I guess that was a sign that I had to go there and check the place/food out for myself.

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Interior.

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Menu: Brunch menu (Gardens petit dejuner, Rum glazed bananas buttermilk pancakes, Acai breakfast bowl, Spinach pate), Soup and salad (Roasted carrot and rosemary soup, Creamy zucchini soup), Other healthy options, Lunch and dinner, Tapas (Louisiana-styled shrimps, Chicken and chorizo paella), Pasta (Gardens brunch pasta)

Drinks: Specialty coffee and more, Juices and tea (Gardens fruit tea, Orange Julius, Power tea), Better than water (Glow), Smoothies (Very berry smoothie), Wine and beer, Cold pressed juices.

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Baked Cereal Chicken & Scones – Made with chicken coated in crisp cereal tossed with parmesan cheese, spices, served with lemon ranch dip and scones. So when the waitress placed this dish on our table, literally my first thought was… ‘ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?’ Because to be perfectly honest, it really feels like this dish was made for yours truly – As well as everybody else who’s into that sweet-salty food combo. Where else can you get crispy cereal-coated chicken fillet and fluffy scones dusted with powdered sugar?! I know the dish didn’t really match the description on the menu, but I didn’t really give a hoot. POWDERED SUGAR!!!!!

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My drink was the Cookie Smoothie with cookies, milk, banana, organic coconut oil, and maple syrup. It’s like a cookies and cream milkshake, only without the guilt feelings.

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Herb Pesto Couscous – Loaded with great, healthy fresh herbs mixed with couscous. Served hot. Perfect on its own or enjoy it with any tapas dish. Very flavorful, and the pesto tasted fresh too. I really missed eating couscous.

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American Breakfast Set – Old-fashioned pancakes served with honey bacon, free range egg, and freshly-squeezed orange juice. Mom thought the pancakes were a bit dry, but I thought that honey bacon sure was tasty.

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Dad’s coffee came was served with a shot glass filled with Chlorophyll Water. The menu describes this as ‘Green sunshine from plants, helps to keep us energized, hydrated, reduce bad breath, & rejuvenate our body at a cellular level’. No idea what it tasted like since my dad downed the whole shot.

The Gardens is definitely one of the better organic restaurants that I’ve eaten (Not to mention one of the pricier ones too – But I guess that’s already expected?)… But I guess if you’ve got a lot of cash to spend and want a find a very decent spot to have brunch with your pals or family, then The Gardens is highly suggested. Thanks to my dining experience, it looks like I won’t be forgetting about this place anytime soon.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5 (taste), 5/5 (presentation)

The Gardens Brunch Cafe and Social House is located at The Grove By Rockwell, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City. Tel no: (02) 9415835. Links: Facebook.

Duck & Buvette

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So I’m going to be doing a review of a Shangri-La restaurant again after a long while, and this time, it’s for Duck & Buvette, a French restaurant that specializes in duck (obviously). Prior to our meal here at D&B, I have never really known what duck meat actually tasted like – The only time I ever get to eat it is when I’m at a fancy Chinese restaurant, in which they serve thin slices of Peking duck accompanied by spring pancakes, scallions, and sweet bean sauce. And as much as I would love to eat duck as often as I could, my parents wouldn’t allow me to do so because of the high fat content. But now, I’ll finally get the chance to acquaint myself with this fine fowl – Just prepared in a different way this time.

Aside from the aforementioned duck, D&B also specializes in pizzas, pastas, meat dishes and buvettes – These are small dishes that are meant to be eaten as an appetizer. D&B was supposed to be one of my main choices for this blog’s upcoming anniversary in October, but I guess I’m going to have to pick another restaurant for that occasion…

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We were seated outside so not a lot of interior pics here…

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Menu: Mains (Confit of pork belly with egg and rice, Veal shank and smacked corn, Eight-hour angus briskets), D&B Specials (Slow braised beef burgundy, USDA prime paleron steak), Buvette, Bites (Truffle roasted cauliflower), Cured meats (Brandade de bacalao dip, Maple candied bacon and lemon), Salads and soups (Grilled romaine salad, Grilled octopus salad), Fried and Grilled (Salsa verde lamb neck), Bakery (Wild sourdough bread basket), Sourdough Pizza, Sandwiches (Duck fat angus burger, Bikini sandwich)

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And here’s their dessert menu.

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Bistro French Onion Soup – Homemade beef broth, caramelized onions, crusty sourdough bread, and melted gruyere cheese.

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Crispy Potato Pave and Salted Duck Egg – Cubes of fried potato layers, topped with salty duck egg and crème fraiche. Not too bad, except it could use a little more salt.

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And the piece de resistance… The D&B Crispy Half Duck Confit – Half-duck confit served with whole grain mustard, red wine sauce, ratatouille duck rice, and cranberry carrot sides. Just… Look at this thing of beauty. That’s a whole duck! And like I said earlier, it’s my first time to try out this kind of duck dish, with the skin/bones and all. It pretty much tasted like chicken, except the meat was more tender and tasted much gamier. I could practically feel the cholesterol coursing through my veins as I ate this dish with the duck rice, but I didn’t really care.

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For dessert, we had the Nutella Waffle – With almonds, whipped cream, and chocolate chips. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmmm. D&B’s Liege waffles are all made from fermented dough, French butter, and pearl sugar. This went really well with our drinks: The Brazilian Black Cat Analog coffee and Masala Chai Tea Latte from Intelligentsia coffee, a famous coffee shop franchise from Los Angeles.

I feel like this was such a refreshing change from the other restaurants that I’ve been to for the past couple of weeks. I never in my entire life even thought that I’d get the opportunity to try fried duck (I really want to thank our waiter for the recommendation)! Maybe I could visit a restaurant that serves a whole turkey next time? Hehe. Anyway, I’m sorta glad that we went all out on this meal… Everything was a bit expensive, yes, but it’s totally worth it.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 5/5 (taste), 5/5 (presentation)

Duck & Buvette is located at 2/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Main Wing, Shaw Blvd Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 631-0675. Links: Facebook || IG: @duckbuvette.

Tien Ma’s

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Since it was a holiday today, my parents and I went out and had dinner at Libis (But we couldn’t go too far since my dad was feeling a bit under the weather, which was a complete bummer). We chose a Taiwanese restaurant called Tien Ma. We assumed that this place was going to be great because it got a pretty high rating from some of the restaurant review sites out there.

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Interior.

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Menu: Appetizer, Dimsum, Main dish, Rice/noodles, Soup, Beverages.

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More Xiao Long Bao!!

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Pan-Fried Sesame Pancake. Thought it was going to look like a scallion pancake… Oh, well. It was pretty much munching on an oversized buchi.

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Wonton Soup, and Wonton Noodle Soup.

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Meanwhile, I tried their Fried Porkchop Noodles. Hmmm. Although the noodles were nice and firm, the soup somewhat lacked flavor… And don’t get me started on the porkchop – There was a hint of sourness to the meat, and there was a complete lack of balance when it came to the flavor as well.

Bleh… TBH this restaurant doesn’t really get high marks from me (although I don’t have any problem with people who enjoy their food). Not to mention that our mealtime was completely disrupted when this group of middle-aged folks came inside the resto and noisily began setting up the tables beside us for a meeting/birthday dinner or something (And one of them even brought a projector screen! A PROJECTOR SCREEN!! INSIDE A TINY RESTAURANT!!!)… I mean, can’t they just do this at a hotel or another restaurant with function rooms? Sigh… Good thing we were done with our meal when they came in -_- Anyway, because of this group and the crappy food, I’m gonna be completely honest here and say that this was probably one of my least favorite dining experiences ever – Sorry!

Ambiance/Interior: 4/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 2.5/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

Tien Ma’s is located at 184 Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Ave, Bagumbayan, Quezon City, Metro Manila. Links: Facebook

Red Panda Modern Chinese Cuisine

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After picking up my mom from The Podium, we headed over to Kapitolyo to have an early dinner. We were all craving for some warm soup since 1.) It was raining outside, and 2.) Both mom and dad were down with the sniffles – So instead of heading over to this spot that serves comfort food, we headed over to this Chinese restaurant called Red Panda.

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Interior. The second floor of the resto looked very nice too (albeit slightly cramped), like the interior of someone’s home. Too bad I wasn’t able to take any pictures of it.

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Menu: Dimsum, Congee, Noodle soup, Stir-fried noodles, Breakfast, Appetizers, Salads, Soup, Rice, Rice in a bowl, Self-serving platters, Vegetables, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Seafood, Entrée, Pasta, Desserts. Their menu is a combination of Chinese/Taiwanese and European dishes… Which I found slightly odd, TBH.

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Red Panda Gokong – Simmered pork pata, organic native chicken and pork tendon in chicken and pork broth. The broth was packed with so much flavor, but the meat had too many bones in it.

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Tausi Chicken Feet – Chicken feet marinated in light superior and tausi sauce, before fried and boiled into a golden brown.

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Xiao Long Bao – Dumplings stuffed with minced pork served with kikoman sauce and shredded ginger. Always a favorite, no matter which restaurant I get to eat it from.

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Cuapao – A traditional Hong Kong steamed white bread into perfection.

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Red Panda Fried Rice – Stir-fried Jasmine rice, spring onions, egg, shrimp, asado, and lettuce. Looks really scrumptious, too bad I’m trying to skip rice for one whole month.

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Fried Tofu with Garlic and Pepper – Tofu fried and seasoned with garlic and pepper. Slightly crispy on the outside, and mushy on the inside.

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Tausi Fish Fillet and Tofu – Steamed fish fillet tofu in tausi sauce. Contrary to the fried tofu, the one that they used here was very soft – And went really well with the salty steamed fish.

Well I have to say that they need to tone down the salt with their tausi fish fillet dish, but other than that, our dining experience here was just fine! It’s just a pity that there weren’t any other customers that came in while we were there (and it was dinner time, too)… I mean, it’s not really the best Chinese restaurant out there, but it’s still very decent.

Ambiance/Interior: 4.5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5 (taste), 4/5 (presentation)

Red Panda Modern Chinese Cuisine is located at 48 East Capitol Dr Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 475-0877. Links: Official Website || Facebook