Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Unit 1512 Forbeswood Heights, Rizal Drive corner Burgos Circle, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

If your restaurant or culinary repertoire has no clear, cohesive concept, do not be tempted to label it as comfort food. You will just give yourself a standard that will be too difficult to meet. You're setting yourself up for failure if you take on the responsibility to relax frazzled nerves, mend broken psyches, and warm up cold hearts. Your adobo has to taste exactly like how Lola Pacing or Yaya Sabel cooked it. And you better have blizzard-consistency champorado with a can of Alaska evaporated milk by the side so I can use the milk to write my name on the porridge.

From the outside, in the dining spaces done in posh but generic zen, to the ultra uncomfortable chairs, there is nothing about Basilio's that says, Come to mama and have some comfort food. What clues you in on the all-too-subtle concept is the 500-page essay on the menu that describes comfort food as "not fusion," no pretensions, but with just a little twist from the usual. Okay, that confuses, not comforts me.

Then you look at the dishes on the list and you think, these look like fusion, but you're not sure exactly what categories and cultures are being fused.

So anyway, never mind the concept. Let's just eat.

I like the bite size foccacia bread. The butter was delicious, reminding me of a Geneva breakfast where I tasted the freshest, best butter I've ever had. My husband shattered the mystery and delusions of exotic when he pointed out one of the butter packets marked by a price sticker from Price Mart.

Then, appetizers. Always searching the best buffalo wings in the metro, we ordered the wings. (Sorry, I didn't take notes so I won't be using the official menu names.) Don't believe the menu photo; the real servings are more generous. It was underwhelmingly okay. Not bad. Mildly spicy. Effective in staving hunger pangs as we waited for our friend to arrive. The blue cheese dressing was in portion controlled quantity though, but you can always request for more.

I ordered what the waiter referred to as the bestseller - the beef and mushroom pot pie. Imagining that a comfort food rendition of this dish would have thick, gooey, creamy beef stew inside. And the dish comes and it looks fabulous, with the pastry top crust nicely puffed up ala souffle. The fun ends there because inside, the sauce was rather sad and thin - imagine a can of Campbell soup diluted with 3 cans of water. The best thing going for it was it was steaming hot, leaving a burn that numbed my tongue for 3 days. Generous on the mushroom, which I loved, but hello, where's the beef? Isn't it that the rule of first mention is that in a dish called beef and mushroom, there should be more beef than mushroom? Okay, I made up that rule, but the price seemed to warrant more cow carcass than fungi, no matter how good tasthing the fungus variety is.

My friend's 50 or was it 30-clove garlic chicken is comfortingly tasty, but it was just a couple of notches above SM's rotisserie chicken. Okay, 3 notches. At twice the price.

My husband's comfort food was fish and chips. Not very memorable, except that it was too oily.

I hesitated to order the macaroni and cheese, another bestseller, because I just had baked mac at a workshop catered by the BSP canteen, and I would hate it if the cafeteria edition is better than this 300+peso version. But I couldn't resist so we ordered it, center served it, and shared it among the 3 of us. Now, that was good macaroni and cheese. Most mac & cheese versions use fake cheese of the quickmelt family, but this had sharp cheddar and it was several notches above the cafeteria variety. No regrets ordering this.

The saving grace of the meal was the dessert. The molten chocolate cake was exquisite - dark and just the right balance of sweet and bitter. Delish!

All in all, not a bad meal. None of the dishes were awful, with the molten chocolate cake and the mac & cheese as winners. But any little comfort derived from the food was immediately wiped out by the bill -- when we subtract the price of the bottle of merlot, there was still more than 2 grand to settle among the 3 of us. Gosh, I needed comforting after that.