After touring Istituto Culinario, I along with fellow bloggers got the chance to sample some of the offerings from Brasserie CiÇou, a French restaurant headed by Chef Cyrille Soenen, and where Istituto Culinario students undergo their internship program.
Being a noob in French cuisine, I didn't really know what to expect when it comes to the food selection. However, the restaurant exudes a relaxing and very casual ambiance to calm even the French cuisine neophytes like me. There were bleached wood tables and chairs, comfy couches pimped with colorful throw pillows, creative chandeliers, colorful paintings and even board games.
Brasserie CiÇou doesn't normally have a station-by-station setup. But for the party, we got to enjoy French food items prepared by chefs and Istituto Culinario students in 7 different stations. And of course, we first explored the Charcuterie Station where cured meat, pork and offal were aplenty.
We got to enjoy pieces of Pâté en Croûte -- chicken breast, liver, pork meat and pork fat wrapped in brioche dough. We also got to sample some Pork Head Pâté, Pork Knuckles Terrine and Pork Rillette which went really well with a glass of white wine.
After the meal starters, we took a trip to the Cold Station and tried the Salad Nicoise -- a mix of seared tuna, anchovies, sardines, tomatoes, eggs, bell pepper, green beans, mesclun salad and served with vinaigrette. It was a really refreshing salad with a hint of saltiness.
We also got to sample this Marinated Sardines, Black Olives & Goat Cheese Espuma. It was my first time to try something with black olive powder, but the blend of the flavors as well as the very interesting mix of textures won me over that I even had a 2nd serving.
At the Meat Station, we got a taste of the very meaty and savory Pork Garlic Sausage -- home-made sausage with marble potato served with Ravigote sauce (capers, pickles, shallots and olive oil). We also tried the Boudin Noir Parmentier, a nicely plated piece of blood sausage atop some mashed potatoes.
Still in the same station, we got to try Brasserie CiÇou's version of Bouillabaisse -- boiled and reduced fish and seafood stock served with prawns, fish fillet and marble potatoes. And being a big seafood lover, this satisfied my seafood craving. Just a sip will bring you to seafood heaven.
We also got to sample the delicious Onglet Poêlér, Coquillette -- seared US beef hanging tender with pasta coquillette, cooked in bacon, mushroom and cream. If only I can turn back time, I'd take off all my shyness and get 3 more servings of this.
At the Non-Meat Hot Station, we tried the Egg Cocotte, Squash Foam -- soft boiled egg cooked in a ceramic vessel and served with squash foam. I honestly haven't noticed the squash flavor, but this dish was still good. Perfect for breakfast, if I may say so.
A favorite from our table is an item from the Non-Meat Hot Station, the Cromesquis of Sea Urchin or deep-fried sea urchin balls. I've tried a lot of sea urchin dishes in the past, and I was not a big fan. However, I can say that this dish was good. The croquette was fried to a crisp, and after taking a bite, one will be surprised of the cold, soft and juicy sea urchin goodness that will greet your palate.
We also got to try the Duck Liver Flan with Truffle Foam which had mixed feedback, both for me and my fellow bloggers. I really liked the foie gras custard as it was very silky, smooth and delicate. However, the truffle foam albeit salty, had a weird taste that I couldn't really explain. It wasn't bad, but I think I haven't gotten used to that particular flavor yet.
After sampling some of Brasserie CiÇou's gustatory delights, we finally got to the Pastry Station where stood a fancy tray of Chocolate and Vanilla Canelle, Madeleine, Financier and Assorted Macarons. These pastries were good, but what stole the night were the the Mini Kouign Amanns.
Also known as Brasserie CiÇou's famous KAs, these Mini Kouign Amanns were sweet, salty, buttery and even had a hint of a caramel taste. They were really good that I ate almost 10 pieces of these babies. I wish to try the standard-sized version some time soon though.
And for something cold and sweet, there were glasses of the Banana Peanut-Butter Ice Cream. I like banana and peanut butter, but a small serving of this is a little overwhelming. It was unpretentious -- real gooey banana with a bold peanut butter flavor.
I know it's quite weird to give a verdict to a restaurant feature, but speaking for the food items that I got to try, I can definitely say that my taste buds had a great time sampling French cuisine from Brasserie CiÇou. Even with smaller, tasting portions, the quality of the food items was of high standards. Everything tasted fresh, and flavorful. With this short introduction to French cuisine, the neophyte in me is excited to taste more of what France can offer.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Brasserie Cicou, Greenhills
57 Annapolis St, Greenhills
San Juan City, Metro Manila