A chef's kitchen? Then it should be good. I mused. "Let's try this one, then." I told my family.
Sweet Pea, a restaurant created by Chef Florabel Co, presented to us a menu that had a representation of dishes from all corners of the globe. The restaurant itself had a cozy atmosphere with quaint little knickknackery displayed all over the place. There was a top-view diorama of white kitchenware mounted on a brick wall. White shelves lined up its adjacent wall, abounding with bottles of liquor, wine glasses, colored ceramic plates and cups, and even hardbound books. A mini fridge painted with Nestle Crunch blue sits on the counter and nearby, a distressed green painted canister filled with rainbow-colored bendable straws attracts the children's eyes. I like their menu for it shows a picture of each food they offer -- definitely an advantage as we first eat with our eyes. Just looking through the pages stirs up quite an appetite.
The plate of Daing na Bangus (P195) comprised the fried bangus scattered with equally fried garlic bits, a couple of tomato and cucumber slices, white rice garnished with herbs and garlic bits, and a heart-shaped sunny side up. A small ceramic vessel containing vinegar mixed with slices of chili pepper and onions was wedged in between. Too bad the fish was overdone, its skin tanned from being a tad too long in the pan. Nothing extraordinary can be said about the flavor; my tongue was just longing for a dab of acidity like maybe a touch of calamansi or lemon to give it a little zing.
One of their best sellers is the Beef and Mushroom Lasagna (P285). A small square of multi-layered pasta with ground beef hidden in between and mushrooms that threaten to fall right into a pool of tomato sauce is sprinkled with powdered parmesan and topped with a rooted decorative herb. A lava of melted cheese cascades on each side -- the culprit of the sweet tones this particular lasagna delivers. A fork's impalement causes the layers to slide and I take the opportunity to drown the pasta in more of its sauce. One bite leads to another as I wallow in its hearty, mellifluous flavor.
To say that this Pork BBQ (P195) was disappointing is an understatement. My mind kept zooming in on the fact that the porcine meat was as tough as it could get. I had to gnaw my way through a few pieces just so I can get a glimpse of its taste. It had a generous portion, I'll give it that -- it being served in a duo of foot-long barbecue sticks. But the marinade it was bathed in was easily forgotten while I was swathed in a smoky flavor brought about by the charred portions, no doubt.
The Sukiyaki Steak and Chicken Kebab (P375) was akin to the previous dish. The poultry meat was as tough; the slices of dry sukiyaki steak a stark contrast to its soup laden counterpart in other restaurants. The rice topped with slices of arid mushrooms was not much of a help either. And I didn't bother tasting the roasted tomatoes and grilled cucumbers lined up adjacently to the kebab anymore.
I appreciated the Baby Back BBQ (P375) for its fall-off-the-bone quality. Smothered with thick barbecue sauce that bordered on sweetness and dappled with grounded herbs, it was a dish well received by the group. A slice of corn inked with grill marks was as juicy as this robust meat, while the pile of yellow rice was a suitable accompaniment with its hushed flavors giving way to the baby back's own.
My favorite among the dishes was the U.S. Angus Beef Belly Shortribs (P350). Tender, juicy ribs that separate from the bones with a slight nudge of a fork, soaked in a sweet sauce that treads on a line between treacly and savory, definitely hits the spot. Perfect with just plain rice, I finished off the dish with closed eyes and a cognizant palate.
To wash away everything with Rootbeer Float (P145) is comforting in itself. As if a dessert due to its glob of vanilla ice cream slowly diffusing into a deep sea of the best brand of rootbeer -- A&W, this highly gratifying drink is a redeeming ending to a somewhat mediocre meal. Maybe I had high expectations since Chef Florabel is well known and respected in the culinary world. But it's not all misses though, so I don't cross it off my list of return trips just yet.
Spot: G/F Venice Piazza McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Contact No.: 659.3685