My first post for this year concerns something important to everyone – food!
“I’m hungry,” my sister said. “I haven’t had lunch.” It was four o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day. My two offspring and I had just met her at Megamall.
She had flown in from Dubai a week ago for Christmas, and I wanted her to enjoy her vacation in Manila. “What do you feel like having?” I asked. We went to the Megamall Atrium to find a decent place to eat. There were a lot of restaurants, but she fixed on a place called Chef’s Quarter, on the third floor.
The facade was modest, yet it was surprisingly roomy inside. We sat a table at the very back, by wide plate-glass windows facing the street. The place was awash in sunlight.
The place has an unassuming facade, tucked away into a little corner. Image here.
We had a helpful and knowledgeable waiter who tossed around terms like “remoulade” and “confit” with abandon but without being a show-off. He also memorized all our orders pat, pen and paper nowhere in sight, when I myself couldn’t keep track of what we’d ordered! Being easily impressed, I was impressed.
For starters we had the Caesar’s salad and the soup du jour, cream of lettuce. The salad was the best I’ve had so far, with the dressing reminiscent of how my mother makes it from scratch. The greens were lightly tossed in dressing and not drowned in them like everywhere else I’ve had that salad. I have finally found a place where I do not have to request the dressing served on the side.
The soup was thick but not too, with the seasonings blended just right. The button-shaped rolls were sweet and soft, and served with butter rosettes piped into little tiny cups.
For sides we had mixed vegetables and – an interesting concept of this restaurant – a “potato of the day”, which for 1/1/11 was baked potato wedges with pearl onions and garlic. Again, the seasonings were perfect, no need to adjust. The vegetables were done just right, with the right amount of crunch, and the potatoes were tender and flavorful.
For our entrees, we chose paella, replete with seafood and egg; baby back ribs that were falling-off-the-bone tender; penne carbonara with bacon; and lasagna that was creamy and tomatoey-rich.
The paella was superb – the rice a nice saffron-golden color, the shrimp and fish cooked without being overdone.
The baby back ribs were a bit too sweetish for my taste, but the pork was fork-tender, the beans were great, and the greens lightly tossed with a mild vinaigrette that complemented the meat well and was unobtrusive enough not to interfere with the rest of the rich flavors.
“So, what did you think?” I asked my sister after the meal. She replied with a satisfied burp.
Chef’s Quarter is one of the best places I have been to, with the food perfect at every turn and the waitstaff accommodating and gracious. We had a wonderful experience and look forward to returning soon and tasting the rest of the dishes on the menu. It was a delicious start to the new year, and I hope this is a harbinger of more good things to come.
Except for the first photo, all photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix L21 using available light.