After a Filipino cuisine-packed June, I thought I'd find myself taking a break from our national fare. However, after gaining a new-found love and respect for our own cuisine, I started the month of July with an exquisite modern Filipino lunch at the six-year old fine dining restaurant in Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig -- Bistro Filipino by husband and wife tandem Chef Roland and Jacqueline Laudico.
As a fine dining spot, Bistro Filipino exudes a quirky elegance with its warm color scheme, checkerboard floor tiles, wooden tables and vintage pieces that spell nothing short of cozy. At the center of the dining space is also a semi-private section filled with beautiful chandeliers and draped with weaved see-through dividers which strongly reminded me of kulambo -- mosquito net usually used in provinces.
I don't normally post photos of this portion of the restaurant, but even the washroom sparked interest with its rustic red and white-patterned walls, artsy red-tinted lighting and antique mirror. Truly, Bistro Filipino makes a lovely backdrop to an indulgence-filled afternoon. I think my only issue is the ambient lighting which despite providing a lovely atmosphere, poses a threat to photographers without a speedlight.
First on our table was a Trio of Appetizers which has tasting portions of three pica-picas, one of which is the Ubod Lumpia -- a best-seller of smoked "etag" pork of Sagada and ubod encased in a crunchy coned wrapper and served with an icy spicy vinegar granite. Although I'm not a big fan of lumpia in general, I love the sophisticated presentation, as well as the blend of savory and spicy flavors of this meal starter.
The first platter also had a tasting portion of Spicy Tuna Kilawin, fresh tuna with calamansi emulsion, coconut cream, roasted capsicum sauce and virgin coconut oil. Although I'm not much into spicy dishes, I really liked the blend of the mild bitter-hot flavor from the capsicum and zesty zing of the calamansi that went perfectly with the tuna loin.
Completing the trio of meal starters is a Gambas Flambé sampler, garlic shrimps and roasted capsicum in hot flaming brandy. While I love anything with seafood, I found the brandy flavor a little strong for my liking. However, the ensemble of shrimps and roasted peppers was definitely very savory with a slight hint of smoky flavors.
We then tried the Adobo Pigeon Salad, a healthy meal starter with seasonal organic greens, garlic mushrooms and adobo pigeon flakes tossed in an adobo vinaigrette. This is the first time I've had pigeon in a salad and I definitely dig it. While the pigeon flakes, mushrooms and vinaigrette carry strong, savory and salty flavors, I loved how the veggies give the ensemble a nice, healthy and refreshing balance.
For soup, we had the Nilaga Corn Chowder, a rich and flavorful bowl of Wagyu beef and its broth, corn purée and crunchy organic vegetables such as French beans, carrots and potatoes. Unlike the original clear nilaga soup, this one has a thick and creamy consistency with small bits of corn. Every spoonful is also an explosion of bold, salty and slightly peppery flavors.
Our main course started with Coco-Loco, coconut-crusted Tilapia fillet with tomato curry and ubod sauté. I love coconut-infused dishes, and although it was the first time I've had any food crusted with coconut bits, I found myself enjoying every bite off this fish dish. The crunchy coconut-y coating was very delightful to munch, while its sauce had a nicely-balanced sweet and savory taste which went well with the whole ensemble.
We then had half a portion of Kare-Kare. While regular kare-kare comes in a bowl with a separate serving of bagoong (fish or shrimp paste), Chef Laudico added a special twist to this Filipino favorite. Every plate comes with roasted Wagyu layered with green beans, petchay-wrapped creamy banana heart, grilled eggplant and peanut-crusted ox tripe served with a bagoong-infused kare-kare sauce. While I enjoy putting my own dollop of bagoong to a serving of kare-kare, this rendition is definitely more sophisticated and friendlier to foreigners without sacrificing the same old savory, salty and peanut-y taste.
After a hearty lunch, it's only fitting to have a Trio of Desserts for a sweet ending. And while I've become more figure conscious lately, I still can't help but crave for a bigger Molten Chocolate Cake as Chef Jackie's tablea chocolate cake with carabao's milk ice cream and dulce de leche is one of the moistest, tastiest and chocolatiest cakes I've had. One of the smallest and cutest too, by the way.
The trio of sweet treats also included a Frozen Brazo De Mercedes sampler, a frozen meringue cake and decadent custard dessert which despite having a nice torched top, was a little lacking in sweetness for my palate. However, the Halo-Halo Sherbet was really enjoyable despite not being overly sweet. This small glass of carabao's cream sherbet with fruits, beans and ube ice cream is not just cute but also very refreshing.
Aside from the decadent selection of desserts in the restaurant, Chef Jackie also has her own line of handmade Belgian chocolate truffles and pralines infused with indigenous flavors at Patisserie Filipino, a pastry corner inside the restaurant.
I wasn't able to try any of her truffles and pralines. But the next time I visit Bistro Filipino, I'll make sure to get a box of these fancy treats. How can I not be tempted with unusual flavors such as Tanglad, Barako, Buko, Sugarfree Salabat, Kalamansi and Prutas de Mayo? They are all unique truffle and praline flavors that I need to sample soon!
This visit to Bistro Filipino has proven me that Filipino cuisine can be modern, refined and even world-class. With Chef Laudico's innovation to dishes of our own, we can now enjoy creative Filipino fare with the same richness and flavorful taste our cuisine is known for. Bistro Filipino also breaks the perception that Filipino food is only for the home. We can enjoy tasty and modern Filipino dishes in a fine dining set-up and get inspired and empowered, even without spending a fortune.
Ambiance - 5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ala Carte-All-You-Can Rates:
All Dishes Except Wagyu Bistek and Prawns
Adults - P788++
Children Below 4 Feet - P488++
All Dishes Including Wagyu Bistek and Prawns
Adults - P1,288++
Children Below 4 Feet - P688++
Wine All You Want - P468
(Plus San Miguel Beer and Signature Cocktails)
Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino, The Fort
G/F Net 2 Bldg. 3rd Ave., Fort Bonifacio
Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila