I'm not saying these are the best in the metro, although I believe they could very well be in most people's top lists as well. Firstly, this list is picked out from only those restaurants that I have tried, of course. Secondly, these are my personal preferences; if you have a different restaurant or sets of restaurants which you like better, that's ok. Food is very subjective, so that's very understandable, not to mention, expected.
It was hard choosing just ten, but the ones included here are those that gave me an unforgettable meal. The number of stellar dishes had to outweigh the not-so-spectacular ones (if there were any). Also, it had to be a restaurant or place that I would love to go back to, over and over again. Not all these restaurants are new, and not all I've tried for the first time, but they have left a mark this year, earning them a spot in my top 10.
So without further ado, here are 10 of my most memorable meals in 2013 in no particular order...
Mesclun, which in French, literally means "to mix", is the core concept of Mesclun Bistro helmed by Chef Katrina Kuhn-Alcantara. The menu is a motley of different cuisines inspired by her travels, although for that night, it was an array of mostly French plates.
Needless to say, I fell in love with Mesclun Bistro. Already it's on my list of favorite and memorable places. I can't wait to go back and try more of their fare.
What makes Mesclun Bistro such? It's a mix of everything -- great place, great ambiance, great service, and really great food. It's certainly a stage for Chef Kuhn-Alcantara's culinary prowess, and I was lucky enough to get a front row seat.
Read more: Lovin' Mesclun Bistro at Serendra
Spot: G/F Serendra Place, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact No.: 954-2100
I've been planning on going back to Mamou for quite some time. Admittedly, the first time I dined there wasn't too much of a good experience, and I blamed that on poor dish choices. I vowed to try their famous steaks the next time I visit, and I was especially glad I did.
Read more: Birthday Celebration at Mamou, Cafe Breton, and The Farm Resto
Spot: G/F Serendra 26th St. Bonifacio Global City
Contact Nos.: 856.3569 / 909.5741 / 0917.816.2668
Sommelier Selection offers artisanal wines from France and Italy. From July 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013, they partnered with different restaurants to let people explore the diversity of their regions' wines. For its partnership with The Cake Club, the wines are to be paired with its signature cakes.
I did learn a lot that night. I learned that I liked French white wines, but with the reds, I think I'll stick to those from the Chilean region. For me, cakes and desserts are generally better paired with whites than reds. In the end, though, it's all about taste -- your taste. These may be great suggestions, but what wine you pair with what cake or dessert is ultimately up to you. It's your palate after all.
Read more: Sommelier Wine Flights: A Cake and Wine Pairing at The Cake Club
The Cake Club
Spot: 2nd/F Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Avenue Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Spot: G/F Bldg 3, Jannov Plaza, 2295 Don Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Magallanes, Makati
Contact No.: 840.4211
A meal at Lolo Dad's is always an experience. There's a certain confidence that every dish is well executed, and that each dessert is a work of art. 13 years of making a statement, and it has churned out unforgettable dishes guaranteed to be---at the very least---one of your best. It was a sad day in the food industry when Lolo Dad's Cafe closed its doors by the end of December 2013. This is one restaurant that will be sorely missed.
Read more: Lolo Dad's Cafe: A Gastronomic Gallery
Lolo Dad's Café [NOW CLOSED]
Spot:899 Pres. Quirino Ave. cor. Leon Guinto St. Malate, Manila
Contact No.:522.2941 or 524.2295 or 526.7151 or 0922.812.5971
Even with a large parking area, cars can still be seen lining the street, emergency lights blinking as they wait for diners inside to go, so they can have a turn -- a testament to this Japanese restaurant's popularity. Usually behind the sushi counter is the owner, Chef Hiroaki Otsuka, former chef of Tsukiji. If you want a taste of sashimi that's of outstanding caliber, you have to---no, must---try Hanakazu.
Read more: Hanakazu: Sashimi Heaven in The South
Spot: 108 Aguirre Ave. BF Homes, Parañaque
Contact Nos.: 850.2512 or 807.3261 or 0917.886.7276
Pepita's Kitchen is known for its private lechon degustation dinners. They have these 12- or 14-course meals that include about two to four types of stuffed lechon. I was thrilled to finally get the chance to experience this wonderful feast that highlights Dedet de la Fuente - Santos'---a.k.a The Lechon Diva---creative genius in bringing out the best in roasted pigs.
Read more: Pepita's Kitchen: HAYOP na Degustacion
Spot: Magallanes Village, Makati
Contact Nos.: 425.4605 or 0917.866.0662
A few chefs and restaurateurs have braved the current diningscape to offer a farm-to-table or an all-natural concept. For these restaurants, the greater challenge is to present an organic menu that eliminates the usual connotation of the food being dull and uninspired. Chef Robby Goco with his latest venture, Green Pastures, has managed to overcome this with his laudable efforts to use high-quality ingredients sourced from different regions around the country, have fun with these elements, and serve scrumptious fare that's unique and exceptionally creative.
Read more: Green Pastures: A Farm-to-Table Concept
Spot: 4/F East Wing Shangri-La Mall, Mandaluyong
Contact No.: 654.3219
The first time I encountered Magnum Opus Fine Coffees was at the DCF Fans' Day event last September. The moment I took a sip of their Belgian Heartbreaker, I knew I must make my way over to their specialty coffee shop in the South soon, and try more of their brews. To date, I've been to Magnum Opus about five times already, always making it a point to try a new cup---or cups---and victual, and each visit is always an experience.
A caveat: don't expect your coffee to be handed to you within a couple of minutes. Third wave cafés take their time to create your perfect cup, and that is part of their charm. It is a reminder that there is more to coffee than being a quick picker-upper. Magnum Opus is no exception, and true to its name, it gives you a masterpiece every single time.
Read more: Fine Coffees at Magnum Opus
Magnum Opus Fine Coffees
Spot: 2/F The Prime Bldg. 115 Aguirre Ave. BF Homes, Parañaque
Contact No.: 0939.920.0701
Stockton Place is a bit out of the way if you think about how more and more restaurants are closely grouped together in one particular location. However, with a reputation that has foodies talking excitedly and unceasingly about it, I braved the Makati traffic to finally see what all the fuss is about.
The place is quite small, accommodating only 30 people more or less, so it's better to make reservations a few days in advance. The menu isn't extensive to begin with, but I think it was smart to just focus on a few dishes and execute them well (especially if you're a new restaurant), rather than offering a whole range of comestibles that are all over the place. I hear Chef Celine de los Angeles previously worked at The Goose Station before setting up shop, so I was pretty excited to get a taste of what was in store for us.
Currently though, they're only open for dinner and cocktails; can't wait for them to open for brunch. Never mind that we've only tried three dishes. The fact that every dish was stellar puts Stockton Place on my top list of new restaurants for this year. And that steak will definitely haunt me for months to come.
Read more: Stuck on Stockton Place
Spot: 227 Salcedo corner Gamboa St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Contact Nos.: 844.9539 or 0917.856.1419
From start to finish, almost everything was exquisite. Such is the reputation of The Goose Station---a clever play on the word degustation---and deliver, they did. The dishes were well-plated, creative, and the execution of each was a marvel to observe. Not to be missed are their Foie Gras Cone, and Egg and Sweet Potato, while the Foie Gras Taho and Halo Halo were pleasant revelations. Needless to say, Chef Roberto Pengson and Chef Sunshine Pengson did a fine job with this genius of a place.
Read more: Degustation at The Goose Station
The Goose Station
Spot: G/F W Tower 39th St. Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Nos.: 556.9068 or 0917.854.6673
I plan to dine at more good restaurants this 2014. There are a few places that have caught my eye like Vask, Olive Tree Kitchen and Bar, The Black Pig, Sarsa, Calderon, Silk Road, Seven on 7th, etc. And of course, there's Antonio's and Breakfast at Antonio's. So what's your top 10? Let me know, maybe I can add them to my to-try list if I haven't visited them already.