Five-star hits and misses; history in Bel-Air | Inquirer Lifestyle

Five-star hits and misses; history in Bel-Air

The lone five-star hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa, is the new playground for residents and diners in the vicinity.

Having aroused the curiosity and palette of those who love (and enjoy) “to lunch,” the place has become quite popular.

Meantime, history has been brought to Bel-Air by the plush dining arena managed by the heirs of a statesman and their partners.

Acacia Hotel Manila

5400 East Asia Drive cor.  Commerce Ave., Filinvest Corporate city, Alabang, Muntinlupa; tel. 7202000, 5885888.

Considering this hotel is in the initial stages of operations, this diner noted quite a few misses and hits. The entrance is not in the main avenue (Commerce) but through the back street (East Asia). The hotel is evidently still in the final stage of construction, hence from the mezzanine where the coffee shop is, the view of flowing traffic is obstructed by a dual steel contraption left open.

The overall design of the hotel is quite confusing, one gets around from the lobby to take the lift, and unless advised the guest is likely to land on the wrong floor.

Dining area—The Coffee Shop (press CS in the elevator) is called Acaci, a play on the word Acacia, which no one is able to confirm whether it was coined or authentic Italian. The decor evokes spring in the floral-printed and striped upholstery of the furniture—in vivid browns, greens and yellows.

While waiting for the food to be served, guests can enjoy the view of the traffic scene on Commerce avenue. The coffee shop has circular food stations for the international buffet and a bread counter. A keen-eyed guest noted how the place could use cleaner design—when you’re seated at a table near the counters, you could see the wiring, the storage for china, flatware and other kitchen paraphernalia—not exactly a glamorous sight in a supposed five-star hotel.

The ladies room, which is a good walk from the Coffee Shop, is grand, in immaculate white, with a big ottoman and a full-size mirror, at that—but the cubicles have no bag hooks. You seldom see ladies’ restrooms these days, even in mall restos, without space provision for women’s bags.

Service—Food service is a bit slow, if you’re not taking the buffet. That’s because à la carte orders come from the kitchen downstairs.

Staff—Excellent. Carlo at the front desk should be commended for his solicitous assistance  when we were looking for the lift and the “little rooms.” The service staff, in their attractive chartreuse and purple uniforms, were gracious and anticipated this diner’s needs. Newspaper is quickly handed on request.

Suggested menu—Since, on our first visit, we were a bit disappointed with the overcooked Foie Gras Burger and a so-so pasta done with too much butter and cream, we decided to make another visit, this time, for breakfast.

Nothing new—the usual salmon and chorizo (both good) in the cold food station, a roast beef carver, etc. But the omelette was a big, big mistake! The egg was hardly beaten, the yolk and the white were not mixed properly and it hardly enveloped the filling. We did not see the chef do it, but we suspect he used only one egg.

Service charge and government taxes are included in the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating:  *

Romulo Café

148 Jupiter, Makati; tel.  8220286, 7486496.

This is a spin-off from Romulo in Quezon City. The owners have brought to Makati the history of a stateman’s career and the heritage of his family’s treasured culinary specialties.

Dining area—True to the Almario Atelier’s signature of sophistication and elegance, the place has an exquisite interior design, from the use of dramatic black and white to the tables where a divan makes a guest sit like a queen or king. There are three sections, including an al fresco set-up. Like in the first outlet, the career of statesman Carlos Romulo is traced in a series of photographs on the walls.

Service—Fast, guests are not made to wait long for food to be served.

Staff—Efficient, knowledgeable.

Suggested menu—This is a throwback to times past, but with dishes that have become traditional and have become fine-dining staple. The “now” food is also available. We suggest you start the meal with refreshing cucumber juice, followed with soup of Salmon Belly with Mustard Leaves. Never miss the delicious Chicken Relleno, done from the recipe of the Gen. Romulo’s lady. This comes with special sauce. Try the Baby Squids in Garlic as well. End the meal with Tiny Crepes of Suman with Tsokolate. Great.

Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating **

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