Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aubergine Restaurant Patisserie

2/F, 32nd and 5th Building,
5th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio -

Some people exaggerate when they say certain dining experiences are better than sex. Dining at Aubergine makes you think about sex, and sunsets, and sand on your feet, and Puccini's when you're sad, and chocolate when you're mad, and everything that's sensual, that feels good, that's sublime and spectacular at the same time. Yes, it is that good.

It's food that makes you wonder why some people invest in illegal drugs when an ounce of foie gras can give you all the ecstasy you need sans the brainfry.

Visually, Aubergine is faultless. Posh decor with the Frenchy trimmings that give character to the place. A towering, gasp-inspiring wine bar. For us, a delightful view of the kitchen that should replace the aquarium channel because I could watch it the whole day. There is a guilty pleasure, like watching porn, in watching the great looking chefs-in-training putter around producing fabulous works of food art. I love the plating area where warm pendant lights keep the food warm. And the dessert station delivers the sherbet in "steaming" teapots. Art!! The lighting is just the right balance of dimness and coziness that gives your skin a golden glow but bright enough for you to appreciate the aesthetic delight of food presentation.

Sounds - ah, that's where they can be faulted. The ambient music does very little to drown out neighboring tables' chit chat noises, especially when the ones at the big round table are type A corporate bigwigs who all love the sounds of their collegiate twang voices. But eventually, you forget about noise as all your sensory functions focus on the sense of...

TASTE! - You're given a choice of soft or hard bread to go with the butter and the hummus in quaint glass squares. The waiter gives you appetizer on the house -- tuna carpaccio. The chervil leaf on top is divine.

Start with Melted French Brie de Meaux (P430) served on grilled watermelon, topped with watercress salad tossed in raspberry dressing, walnuts, and chinese truffles. I love the mix of cold and hot; and sweet and tart and savory rolling on my tongue.

Then, the Baked Oysters (P480) with wilted spinach and crispy bacon in champagne sauce. At first bite, it seems like the Rockefeller variety typical of any oyster bar, but eventually your palate detects something above par and exquisitely good about it. And you dwell on how great cooking can turn ordinary into extraordinary.

Then the main dishes. I figured the Trio of Grilled Mulwarra Beef Tenderloin, Braised Veal Cheek, and Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras (P1,350) would give me a sampler of the Degustation Meal, which was not tempting enough. This is heaven on a plate. I wanted my beef medium rare and they gave me carnivorousness perfection. Seared very lightly on the outside and rosy pink on the inside. I've had Veal Cheek before and this one didn't match the first time. It tasted just a wee bit better than homemade caldereta and didn't melt in my mouth like the first one did. And if I had to nitpick, the vegetables were a bit too wilted. But who cares about the vegetables when the foie gras was ooh-aah-baby-baby-so-good! I'm sorry to be so politically incorrect and insensitive to animal rights supporters, but this is food that really makes me happy to be above the food chain.

Hubbaluvva's US Angus Rib-Eye Beef Steak (P1,550 fpr 300 grams) was also very good.

We have just decided to move to another restaurant for dessert, when the waiter gave us free macaroons and grand marnier chocolates. Perfect to top off a fine meal.

Overall, very very good food that made me want to go back to my Multiply site and change all my resto ratings to one because I was just so bowled over by the food at Aubergine.

Service was very good. It felt like the cute waiters were fawning over us. There was a minor mix-up with the reservations but we got in there early so we got a nice booth with a great view of the kitchen of my dreams.

The only downer was the wine list. I read from the reviews that they have a good selection. I was expecting a great big leather book of exotic choices but we were given a little cardstock paper foldout of obscenely overpriced, not too spectacular, available at Cash & Carry for 229.95 wines. So we brought in our own bottle and coughed up a criminal 750 peso corkage.

We went here for my husband's birthday but I got a treat as well. I was too afraid to look at the final bill. My brain was slush incapable of doing math. And it's probably well and good I didn't ruin the delightful evening with sticker shock. But this was a celebration of my husband's year and life's many blessings, so an occasional splurge was called for.

The feast of the senses can be viewed here: http://islandhopper.multiply.com/photos/album/29/Aubergine