Let's say you're on a date, and towards the end of the night all you could think of is dessert and how good it would be right at that moment when all you want to do is impress someone. When the platter arrives, you take one look at the (above) dessert, another look at your date, and you realize... you have no idea what the heck that is! Ok, that isn't really the case, but I thought it a bit amusing to begin with that dessert platter because it's just plain whimsical. That's my Amuse Bouche for this post.
A few nights ago I was on my way to dinner and was blindsided towards Aubergine. Blindsided because this was not the intended restaurant for the evening, but apparently I didn't get the memo on the location change. No complaints, I love Aubergine; It's the perfect date place if you want to impress a lady. Beware if that lady happens to be ToT, she knows how to burn a hole in your pocket.
Located at the heart of the Bonifacio Global City, Aubergine is a spacious and well-planned culinary school cum fine dining restaurant established by seasoned hoteliers and chefs from all over the world. Yes, you read me right. Noted hoteliers Hansjorg Schallenberg and Norbert Gandler of Mandarin and Makati Shangri-La fame are the creators of Aubergine. Plus, with the talented Chef Ernie Babarin manning the Patisserie area, dessert is definitely a selling point for every meal.
French for 'eggplant', Aubergine's interiors have deep purple tones and complementing colors, with various seating areas. But everyone knows I can be bought with wine, and I'm always in awe of the beautifully crafted exposed wine cellar which serves as a divider from the Bar & Patisserie, and the dining area. I don't even want to know if they have the 1983 Chateau Margot...
Upon being seated, the courteous servers place a butter/hummus platter and a selection of breads
As an Amuse Bouche, we were given herb mousse piped into a pastry ring with raspberry gelee and a sauce. It definitely enticed my palate and gave me a bit of leeway to have fun on this dinner date.
Crab Meat Salad
With mango & papaya jellied crab consomme, salmon roe and pan fried crab cake on curried apple sauce, accompanied by salad greens in passion fruit dressing. This appetizer was well-composed, with the freshness of the mango & papaya complementing the cold crab cake, and the curry giving a bit of spice to the fried version. The little consomme block I had no use for, but when it melted in my mouth the flavor lent another level of complexity in the taste. Highly recommended.
Grilled Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass
With tomato fondue, sauteed spinach, potato gnocchi and mustard seed oil Veloute. You can never go wrong when you order sea bass, its buttery fillets bursting with oceanic flavors. The Veloute, one of the four mother sauces in French culinary arts, was velvety and added another layer of richness to the delicate fish. I ate most of the veggies on the plate, because someone doesn't really eat veggies. But I didn't touch the gnocchi, thinking it was just shaved baby potatoes. Now I want gnocchi...
Roasted Australian Lamb Rack with Mustard-Herb Crust
Served on olive jus, creamy basil polenta, garlic confit and French beans. Rack of lamb is a tricky order at a fine dining restaurant because it's bound to be a messy plate and, if you like to get down and dirty with your hands, can go either on your lap or the next table's. These were my thoughts with this rack of lamb. Meaty with a gamey flavor distinct with lamb, the meat was cooked perfectly medium rare. The crust was fantastic and had a crunch to it contrasted well with the tender meat. The mustard gave a tangy spice which elevated the herbs to another level. I didn't care so much for the polenta, but the haricot verts (french beans) I devoured. I love beans!
For Dessert, I had to order my favorite, Dark Chocolate Souffle with a White Chocolate Anglaise and milk chocolate mousse/ice cream. The souffle didn't rise like Le Souffle's did, but it was airy, creamy, and decadent as a souffle promises to be. I loved the chocolate mousse that accompanied it, or was it ice cream? I don't remember!
Now comes the Odd part
And lastly, we order, the Tiramisu, which is a story in itself because someone kept insisting that I had to make my tiramisu, which I make from scratch, from the madeleine to the creme. So when this platter arrived, we had that quizzical look of "how the hell do we eat this?!" on our faces. Deconstructed and portioned out like any Top Chef contestant would do to win brownie points, the presentation was a 10, but the ease factor was a bit lower. What to do? Do we dip the broas on the ice cream? Fork? Huh?
The Piece de resistance had to be the chocolate cup with mascarpone cream and cocoa, which was cute and dainty, but too little to share. We wanted more of the cream! This little cup of mascarpone will live in infamy.
As a sweet ending, the server gave us complimentary macarons and handmade chocolates from their patisserie, made by the students of ISCAHM, or maybe Chef Ernie himself. What a sweet touch.
Or maybe, it was their way of shooing us out of Aubergine, because as I looked around I realized the only table occupied was ours! We had such great conversation & food that time, and people flew right by. That's what happens when things just work well together, from the food to the ambiance, to the service and the person you're sharing the special meal with. That might just be the Aubergine Effect.
Learn more about Aubergine & ISCAHM
32nd and 5th Building5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street
Fort Bonifacio 1634 Taguig
+632 856 9888