The outlet is named Escolta, perhaps to evoke the years past when that term referred to a street of elegance and quality.
Escolta, Ground Level of Manila Peninsula Hotel, Ayala Ave. corner Makati Ave., Makati City; tel. 8872888. Escolta is a street in downtown Manila, where elegance ruled in the days of old. Back then, it had a string of high-end stores, catering to Manila’s 400. We reckon, and this is a guess, that the Pen called its buffet outlet that, to keep the image of an era (almost) gone.
“Escolta” at the Pen captures an impressive elegance, in décor, service and food. It is what can be called a premium, for a guest is treated like a priced possession, more like the fine clothes found in the old Escolta, which, while it still exists, has lost most of its charm.
Dining area—There are three sections, two of which can be for semi-private dining. Elegance and serenity are the key elements, nobody is within hearing distance from a table beside. The generous buffet spread greets the guests on the left side. Décor is conservative, massive.
Service—Impeccable. Guests are greeted by a tall gentleman in dark suit who hands the guest/s over to a lady assistant, who offers an “introduction” to the buffet. If you choose to sit down, another staff takes the orders, fills up the glasses with water and stands by. A la carte food comes fast.
Staff—Neat, unobtrusive, attentive, efficient.
Suggested menu—From the (approximately) 100-odd offerings, it is best to go around, and help yourself only to what you like (and can eat), or get confused. Staff guide diners, assisting them. Indulge and order wine. For appetizers, take the Pen’s original Smoked Tanguigue and/or Smoked Salmon with the accompanying Dill Sauce. Arugula for salad is suggested. Lace it with the subtly flavored anchovy sauce. Do not miss scrapping the nutty Parmigiano Reggiano (cheese) from its massive bowl-like rind and slice off a chunk from the full buttery flavored Manchego cheese. Then settle for the big beef, the roast rib-eye, perfectly pink with just a bit of fat, nearly cotton soft with brown gravy. Take a breather, a few minutes before ordering dessert, from the array, the best being one of the crepes, caramel-banana filling is yummy. Coffee needs to punctuate the meal, and the Pen has the best robust brewed coffee. This is a meal worth every penny spent.
Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.