"The story begins when you walk through the door
As you enter, you think 'What else is in store?'
Journey with us for a festive surprise
and find out how Christmas comes alive."
Such are the yuletide phrases coming from Shangri-La's newest hotel at the Fort. They're inviting everyone to come dine, shop, and stay with them for the holidays. They have different room and residence packages for you and your loved ones, as well as a host of dining options where you can celebrate with friends and families. One particular restaurant that we recently tried is the High Street Café, their resident buffet spot.
"It's the time of the year for holiday cheer
To celebrate with everyone we hold dear
Begin the festivities at High Street Cafe
and fill your belly with joy at the buffet!"
Aside from their usual buffet fare, which consists of several stations like cheese and charcuterie, seafood, Japanese cuisine, Chinese food, meat section, pasta, and dessert of course, a few special dishes have been added. There are appetizers such as bread and crackers that you'd want with pâté dotted with dried cranberries or with the aubergine dip. But make room for this amazing camembert filo pastry with mango relish; it's tricky because then the dilemma is to decide if you'll give in to eating a few more secret bites or do you restrain yourself and wait for the dishes still in store.
Gazpacho, salad in cones, oysters granita, and ceviche -- oh the ceviche! Wonderful pieces of tuna, octopus, and clams that come together in your mouth in a deliciously acidulous explosion, leaving you hoping there's more where that came from. The oysters, on the other hand, are light, little luxuries that just beg to be devoured.
In between shots, I steal a few more bites, wondering how it's possible for an average person to get a taste of everything the buffet has to offer. Everything's good so far, and my stomach is slowly reaching its limit. I start to pace myself, and take my time between dishes. And that's the beauty of dining with friends you haven't seen in a while. A lot of catching up goes on in the midst of gastronomic ooh's and aah's.
Then came more -- a lot more! Samples of maki or sushi rolls came from the Japanese station and some claypot rice from the Chinese section. After which a succession of marvelous meats paraded and serenaded: roast duck with crisp duck skin, roasted chicken, beef cheeks on a bed of mashed potatoes, and finally a platter of ulang or freshwater prawns.
I'm going to start raving about their Christmas cocktails, especially one in particular -- the Christmas Flip. It's got coffee in there with some liqueur, topped off with nutmeg powder and vanilla. I couldn't help but give myself a mental pat on the back for ordering a fantastic drink. As our server Essa said, it's "life-changing"! I love Irish coffee liqueur and it's got that down pat. It's pretty strong even with all the ice, and I would have asked for another glass had I not been afraid I wouldn't be able to hold a decent conversation thereafter. But I highly recommend this especially to coffee lovers.
Other cocktails on the list are the Santa Claus Iced Tea, Ramos Fizz, and The Grinch, a melon liqueur with dalandan. If you prefer the non-alcoholic stuff, you might want to try the Warm Street Coffee.
Where do I start with the desserts? After a full stomach, eased by a great cup of coffee, the pastry chef brought out our first jaw-dropping dessert: the Yule Log. It's a playground of chocolate cake roll, Christmas brownies, heart-shaped cookies, strawberry mallows, cherries, meringue, and a smattering of candy floss. It was a bit heartbreaking when we had to tear it apart in order for us to get a taste. A tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
Then there's the Chocolate Beignets, the prettiest Strawberry Shortcake, a Six-Hour Pudding topped with lots of raspberries and paired with what I think is bourbon sauce, and my favorite among all the gorgeous creations -- the Panettone. It doesn't look like your usual Italian Christmas bread with its cake-like structure and all the trimmings, but it's so good, you'll just stop contemplating about the difference.
And there you have it, you have the holidays to take the opportunity to feast on this sumptuous fare. Bring your friends and family, and revel in the delicious buffet of High Street Café.
Christmas Eve (December 24) dinner P3,800 net
Christmas Day (December 25) lunch P3,200 net | dinner P3,800 net
New Year's Eve (December 31) dinner P3,800 net
New Year's Day (January 1) lunch P3,200 net | dinner P3,800 net
*Christmas beverage package P600
High Street Cafe
Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila
30th St. corner 5th Ave. Bonifacio Global City
Tel. (632) 820.0888