Chef Miko Calo’s food is the kind you want to take great pleasure in, making it difficult to appreciate in an eat-and-go working lunch. It’s more suited for dinner, and that’s why Metronome has never catered to diners at midday—until June 29, that is.
Times have changed. Because of the pandemic, the modern French restaurant, which started operating in August, decided to open its doors for lunch.
Calo has come up with bistro food that she describes as equally comforting but easier and more relatable compared to Metronome’s prepandemic fare. Though more accessible, the dishes still require the same finesse and care she has always put into cooking.
The Hunter’s Chicken, for example, demands a long process to get it right. The chicken is seared, the pan deglazed, and a couple more ingredients are sautéed before the broth that’s intensified with cognac gets started.
“It seems simple, but the steps to get there are so precise. You have to understand the foundation of cooking,” she says. “And it excites me to do stuff like that.”
It’s a dish she first learned to cook in school. “It reiterated to me how the French give importance to quality ingredients even in simple country cooking. Fresh herbs, good wine—these things are simple, but when put together can be exceptional.”
Paired with the stewed chicken is the smoothest and richest pommes purée, which has become a signature trademark in the Robuchon restaurants where Calo once worked in.
“Adding lots of butter gives the potato a certain sweetness and unctuous quality. More than the addition of fat, it is important how you incorporate it, how cold the butter is when you whisk it in little by little. That will ensure that the mash is fluffy and not greasy. It usually takes an hour.”
The Hunter’s Chicken is among the few dishes that cross over from their takeaway line, Lazy Oeuf, to their prix fixe lunch menu, which comes with either soup or salad, dessert and coffee or tea. The takeout version doesn’t come with mashed potato, though, because it doesn’t travel well.
“Lazy Oeuf is genius by design because we don’t sell hot food,” says Metronome coowner Elbert Cuenca. “Everything is chilled and reheated at home as instructed. You get the same quality as if it came out of the kitchen. Twelve minutes is all it takes.”
One of the chef’s personal favorites, the Lamb Parmentier, is also on the menu. “It’s something I used to eat a lot when I was still living in France. Something you can buy in a convenience store and pop in the oven—comfort food,” she says.
The Parmentier is the Parisian casserole. Metronome’s version has lamb shoulder ragout crowned with smooth mash and Gruyère cheese.
Calo’s cuisine might be French in origin, but a lot of her ingredients are sourced locally. To relieve farmers of oversupply, she bought 50 kg of Ifugao tomatoes and incorporated them in her menu. The fruits were in different stages of ripeness, so she preserved the mature ones by roasting and turning them into purée, while the others she included in her salad, beautifully showcasing their various shades of ripeness in green, yellow and orange.
Chocolate Textures, part of the bistro lunch set, best represents the philosophy of Metronome when it comes to championing local produce and artisans. It is composed of three different chocolates from different makers and regions in Mindanao—Risa’s South Cotabato cacao, Auro’s Davao del Norte, and Lerio’s Agusan del Sur. Each has been converted into its own unique form, which composes the whole delightful dessert.These are trying times, and those who persist and persevere will prevail, as in the case of Metronome. —CONTRIBUTED
Metronome, open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 pm., is at The Grand Midori Makati, Bolaños Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City; tel. 0917-1473776