With its rib bone still attached to 850 grams of juicy beef, the tomahawk steak at 22 Prime does indeed look like an axe or a hatchet with a straight shaft. If you grip the end of the “shaft” and strike a menacing pose, you might pass for Conan the Barbarian.
The decision to leave the bone in, however, is no mere affectation, says corporate chef Anthony Raymond of The Discovery Leisure Co. Inc.
At a dinner hosted by Discovery Suites in Ortigas recently, he said this helps keep the meat moist while it’s being grilled.
Executive chef Luis Chikiamco explained it more succinctly. “If you keep the bone in, the juices remain intact, but without the bone, the juices can just flow out during the cooking process.”
With meat that has been dry-aged for 28 days like Prime’s Tomahawk, you want to retain whatever moisture remains. Before cooking, the steaks are seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and any sauces are served on the side.
One order is good for two, although since they started offering the tomahawk steak last month, there have been a few diners who have bravely tackled it solo.
Raymond recounted that when he used to work at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, they could not serve tomahawk steak because the way it looked offended some diners.
“Leaving such a long rib bone in makes it look like the meat came from some animal,” he said. Apparently, some Americans do not want to be reminded of the slaughter involved before this steak or that lamb chop is served to them.
While the steaks are the highlight of 22 Prime, there are other new dishes that chefs Raymond and Chikiamco came up with to update the menu. The Oysters Plateau is described as a tower of oysters served three ways: chilled, baked and as oysters Rockefeller.
At the very top are saucers containing cocktail sauce, mignonette and horseradish cream. Instead of fiddling with the sauces, however, many of us decided to down the fresh oysters with just a squeeze of lemon.
“I wanted to use seafood and produce that are at their peak. For the oysters, we were able to find a supplier from the province of Aklan who sends us fresh oysters daily,” Raymond said.
The Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella salad is a huge portion of fresh cheese, baby tomatoes, arugula and aged balsamic. A suggestion to use riper cheeses was considered, although it was pointed out how most Filipinos prefer less offensive varieties like gouda and cheddar when presented with an exotic cheese platter.
This writer would have liked more arugula in the mix; the peppery bite of the leaves works well with the cheese that is smooth, velvety but otherwise bland.
The chefs came up with over a dozen new dishes, apart from those we sampled. These include Lamb Merguez Hoagie served with roasted pepper, onion, melted cheddar and harissa aioli; Angus Beef “Rossini,” Angus tenderloin with foie gras, sweet potato roesti, baby spinach and black truffle sauce; and Pan-Roasted Black Snapper with tomato scented spelt (milled wheat), peppers, olives and saffron broth.
“The dining experience at 22 Prime is now even more exciting with a bold mix of choices, food tastings and wine pairings,” Raymond said in a statement. That evening, all the dishes were paired with Beringer wines.
With the holidays just around the corner, Discovery Country Suites, through its corporate chef Raymond and chef Celmar Ambida, has readied a set menu available at Restaurant Verbena for lunch and dinner from Dec. 1 to the first week of January.
At the recent lunch hosted for the lifestyle press, Raymond and the Country Suites team prepared the four-course menu that opened with Potato Agnolotti with Smoked Bacon,
Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parsley Pesto; followed by Pan-Roasted Diver Scallops with Sweet Corn Purée, Asparagus and Chorizo Vinaigrette.
Raymond said that it can take months for them to perfect a particular dish and that one item can be tweaked countless times. The chefs don’t take their work lightly, especially since Verbena has figured highly in local and international “Best of…” listings.
The main course was USDA Wagyu Hanging Tender with Butternut Squash Purée, Roasted Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts and Cabernet Reduction. This was capped with Pumpkin Cheesecake with Berry Coulis and Candied Pistachios.
Restaurant Verbena’s holiday menu is priced at P2,300 net per person. Suggested wine pairing is available for an additional P650+.
Call Discovery Suites at tel. no. 7198888. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.discoveryhotels-resorts.com. Call Discovery Country Suites at tel. nos. 5297182, 046-4134567. E-mail email@example.com