When Ipe texted me earlier tonight to tell me we were heading out for dinner at the Fort to celebrate our friend’s birthday, I didn’t really think much of it – after all, most of our Saturday night food trips take place in one of the restos there (or, at Mercato, if we’re at a loss where to eat). But when we got in the car and he told me we were going to the Infinity Tower, I was like, “What? Where?”
After all, few people know the Infinity Tower (in fact, it took me the entire ten-minute ride to figure out where it was, considering that we used to pass it every day); and probably only a handful know that there’s a fine dining restaurant safely hidden there.
From the outside, Chef’s Table is nothing fancy – just clear glass windows allowing the outsider to see the open kitchen, high ceiling, and sleek, light brown tables and chairs.
|Chef's Table entrance (photo from their website)|
|*photo from their website|
I wasn’t really sure what to expect; it was the first time I heard of the place and I hadn’t done any research so I figured I’d just wait and see what they put on the table.
First up was the chilli chicken. I’m a bit picky with chicken – they tend to be a bit dry on the inside, and blah on taste but this one, while far from perfect, is better than most of what I’ve tasted so far, like the flavour seeped right from the outside to the last bit of meat on the inside.
|tomato rissotto (?)|
Next came the crab cakes. You all know I love seafood, never mind the allergies that are now causing me a sleepless night, so I made it a point to taste this one. And boy, I’m glad I did. When they said it was crab cake, they meant it! You know when the usual crab cakes are nothing but fillers and coating and you are left feeling cheated? Well, this one is the opposite of that. It was so rich, and well, crabby!
I also loved the salmon canapés. It’s nothing spectacular but I found it rather unique to have used fish balls (or something that tasted suspiciously like fish balls) as the base. It complemented the taste of the salmon really well. I wish it was bigger though – each piece was as big as a one-peso coin.
|Salmon canapes (tasted like fish balls)|
Of course, since we were all supposed to be eating healthy this 2012, we had to have some salad. Nothing much to say here; it was just plain old salad with mango bits (that are too small to really contribute taste) and apple strips with teeny tiny morsels of fish (I have to reiterate how small the morsels were – I literally had to dig around just to find one). It didn’t even come close to being half the taste of the best salad in the world (for me; and that’s Sonya’s Garden’s salad).
|fresh seafood/mango/apple salad - you can opt to skip this as there's nothing special to it|
Now, things started to look up when they served the nilagang baka (beef shanks stew, with bone marrow to boot!). While I didn’t see any slab of meat in the soup bowl, I certainly tasted it. And I certainly loved it. It’s exactly what I would love to eat when I am sick and I need comfort food.
What really bowled me over was that our friend must have ordered a feast as serving after serving was brought to our table. We had lechon pasta (unique in using lechon as topper for the pasta, but while the lechon was oh so tasty and soft, the sauce itself was bland), seafood paella (good enough to eat by itself, though I would have preferred it a bit saltier and more pepper-y), embutido (not a fan of embutido and I don’t think I ever will be, but this was quite good; I actually finished off a slice, considering I don’t really like embutido), and Christmas chicken served one after the other.
|Steamed fish with kangkong and gravy|
|Good ole embutido|
Again, I’d have to single out the Christmas chicken – I don’t know how they cook their chicken but it works. The meat tasted evenly and was so soft. Funny thing, when it was served, it looked so perfect, what with the honey-orange glaze and the orange slices by its side that no one wanted to touch it. Ha!
|Christmas Chicken - looked too good to eat|
Dessert came soon enough – a plate of yummy bibingka and fried sapin-sapin served with hot chocolate. We also got this hot coconut mix which was really rich. I loved the bibingka. It was probably one of the best I tasted – soft, tasty and I think the batter itself was mixed with melted cheese as it was very creamy. And the sapin-sapin was the perfect companion, complementing the salty bibingka with its sticky sweetness.
|Sapin sapin and bibingka|
|not sure if I got this one right, but I think this was the buko pie martini - really rich|
Verdict? Mixed. There were some really good dishes but no clear standouts. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve tasted too many good food or because I’ve heard that Chef Bruce graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in London and trained under Gordon Ramsay, and is a celebrity chef, so naturally, I was expecting a lot. Needless to say, I must have expected too much. Prices are okay; on par with the nearby restos and quite cheap if you think it's actually a by-reservation-only-fine-dining place. And I appreciate the service: the waiters are all there but unobtrusive and very polite. But again, this is my first visit so I guess another round is in order for me to give a better verdict.
*Chef’s Table is located on the ground floor of the Infinity Tower, Fort Bonifacio (11th and 26th street, beside Soma/South of Market, and near Serendra). This is a by-reservation only restaurant so make sure to call before you visit: 399-18-88. You can visit their website here.