Over a two-week period, we visited two restaurants, quite different from each other, by way of food offerings, but satisfying. One gives an ultimate dining moment and the other invokes memories of true Pinoy cuisine that harks back to the time of hired cooks in private homes.
Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie
5th Avenue cor 32nd Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; tel. 8569888.
When the food served is of five-star quality, when the service is impeccable, when the ambiance is perfect, almost private, a diner would certainly have an ultimate dining experience. This is what is offered by this restaurant that hardly calls attention—it’s hidden on the second floor of a building dominated by a hamburger chain and a Chinese eatery in Bonifacio Global City.
Go up and enjoy a delightful epicurean experience.
Dining area—There are actually two sections, each one very European, quiet, elegant in fixtures dominated by the color purple (aubergine). The extensive wine rack doubles as wall divider. There is enough space between tables so that one does not get to hear the conversation in the next table.
Service—Impeccable. Stefan, the executive chef, does the rounds, checking on the diners’ needs/comments. This is commendable considering not all chefs do this anymore today.
Staff—Neat, efficient. Unobtrusive but available.
Suggested orders—The restaurant adheres to strict French cooking techniques, natural ingredients, slow cooking for braised dishes that seals all the flavors of the various ingredients and splashing the food with savory sauces.
A business lunch is offered every day, but go through the expansive menu and indulge!
It is proud of its French Duck Foie Gras and Duck Breast Delight, a Terrine with apple Calvados jelly, Pan Seared Foie Gras on Black Cherries. Or go for the all-time favorite, Escargot gratinated with garlic herb butter.
Follow this up with Cream of Roasted Pumpkin with roasted walnuts and crispy bacon flakes.
The piece de resistance can either be Aubergine Seafood Medley in shellfish fizz with organic salad greens in passion fruit dressing, or the Oven roasted Australian Lamb Rack, gratinated with goat cheese and herbs on sautéed French Beans and Cherry Tomato Confit.
Or look at the menu and maybe end up with Honey-Glazed French Duck Breast on creamed cabbage with pineapple, pink pepper gnocchi and Curacao sauce.
They have the usual grills of high-grade beef with mashed potatoes on the side and vegetable garnish.
After all these, get ready for dessert, then your day is made.
Government taxes and service charge are added to the bill. Senior citizen cards are honored.
Kuse Traditional Filipino Cuisine
McKinley Hill, Bonifacio Global City; tel. 8344966
The word “traditional” drew us to this restaurant. We just needed a foil to the Filipino cooking that has lately been influenced by the “fusion” technique.
“Kuse” is from the word kusinero, referring to hired cooks (men and/or women) who were hired by families to prepare their “fiesta” fare in their homes in a bygone era when there were still no hotels or modern restaurants.
The food they produced was always delicious, full of natural flavors, without enhancers.
Dining area—Relatively small, seating only 50, cozy and bright. Bamboo is the main decor, even as table embellishments. Chairs are woven rattan. There is enough space between tables for easy movement.
Service—Guests are quickly led to tables and handed menu cards. Waiting time for your orders is short.
Suggested orders—The menu consists of dishes from different parts of the country. What could be more refreshing on a hot day than a salad of Pako with Laguna Kesong Puti and Itlog na Maalat; or a Trio Ensalada of Radish, Eggplant, and Ampalaya? Then a soothing Pesang Dalag with steaming hot broth.
Choose from the unique Pancit Lechon de Lucban or Native Chicken in Coco Milk.
We are all familiar with Bistek Tagalog, but at Kuse it is served with Fried Eggplants and Tomatoes, instead of onion rings. Native kakanin, like Sapin-Sapin (served as Crème Brulee ) and Free-Range Duck Egg Leche Flan, will tempt the diner to punctuate the meal with sweets.
Government taxes and service charge will be in your bill. They honor senior citizen cards.