Showing posts with label Fine Dining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fine Dining. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Year-end Gourmand Trip: Alfresco Dining at Blackbird Restaurant

December 23, 2020 0

It's been a crazy year for all of us. 

Everything has been put into a halt since March this year and even in the final stretch of 2020, the threat of the pandemic is still swarming across the globe. 

The travel industry has not yet fully recovered. But the dining sector is slowly getting back on track,  just in time for the holiday season. 🎉

This is the season to cherish life and appreciate what we have right now. We've been through a lot this year, but it shouldn't be dampened our spirit for the holidays. Celebrate it with luscious meals! 

We need to pick up our lives somewhere and keep moving and hoping for a better life ahead and remind ourselves that it's not yet the end of the world. 

Despite the pandemic, it's still the most wonderful time of the year! Let's celebrate life's moments and be thankful that we have reached this far, alive and healthy. And that's enough to be grateful and feel festive this holiday season. 

Though gatherings of large groups are prohibited under the GCQ guidelines, we are allowed to sneak to a restaurant with our family, friends or colleagues, as long as we observe the health protocol imposed by the government.

There are trendy resto in Metro Manila that offer a comfortable venue for a special gourmand trip this holiday season, a food destination that truly let us feel normal even just for a day. 😀

Blackbird restaurant in Makati is one. 

Entrance area of. Blackbird

Chic, classic interior, with earth tone furnishing, it is just beside the vibrant Ayala gardens. The scenic view of nature and breezy surroundings make this dining destination a great place to chill over sumptuous meals. 

Reception area 

And to get the most of the comforting  view of the environment, Blackbird offers an option for an Al fresco dining. It's right in their garden with two bar lounges.

Garden lounge


It is located within the Ayala Triangle at the heart of Makati, surrounded with verdant trees and cool atmosphere, making Al fresco dining a terrific option for a relaxing gourmand adventure.

McLarens team year-end lunch 

Blackbird is housed at Nielson Tower, Manila's first international airport and historic landmark, along Salcedo Village, just a throw stone away from the scenic Ayala gardens.

Al fresco dining

The interior 

Yeah, before talking about food, let me tell you first about the interior. I'm always particular with the restaurant's ambiance when choosing a place to relax over meals and long conversation, because it speaks volume for a good foodie mood. It makes the dining moment more satisfying.

Outdoor dining

Blackbird has an awesome interior, stylish art deco, elegant furnishing, warm tone and quissential oriental vibe. It instantly draws interest among diners, fa. Elegance is an understatement. 

The food and service 

Just like most fine dining restaurants, Blackbird has a great customer service with staff warmly guiding diners to their respective tables. And they're extra accommodating to diners' requests.

Blackbird offers an intercontinental cuisine, combining sumptuous western fares with contemporary Asian dishes. Big flavors in generous servings!

A great place to chill with colleagues 

We spent our year-end lunch here the other week and we chose the outdoor venue to make the most of our time, getting cozy in conversation while enjoying the food.

Happy Holidays!

Items in the menu might be highly westernized with complicated terms but its flavors have typical Asian taste, familiar to a Filipino palate.

The Menu

Dishes in the menu are segregated based on the hour of dining. Brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, but diners can take any of those dishes anytime of the day. Opening time is at 10:00 in the morning, so brunch is ready the moment you step inside. 

QR style menu

The brunch meals offer a global taste of some European fanfare. Sausages, grilled English bangers, bacons and mushrooms, toast, potato salad, steak, smoked salmon. 

The afternoon tea is a quissential English and French delights, an assortment of finger sandwiches, savory pastries, freshly baked scones with cream and jam, tarts and cakes, served with a pot of classic tea. 

Dinner menu is an array of a resplendent cuisine for a splendid night complete with wine and sparkling champaigne. 

Roast salmon, Kerala fish, grilled ribs, lamb cutlets, smoked trout, pasta, soup and starters like crispy soft shell crab, cheddar and leak souffle. Dishes that make your evening extra full and relax.

Our dining experience 

It was an extravagant Al fresco lunch for us, an opportunity to bond after months of not seeing each other, and a great moment to loosen up over great food and long conversation.

The Al fresco dining venue sets in the garden lounge of the restaurant so our year-end bonding was extra delightful, breathing on the coolness of nature while enjoying meals. 

It was a great lunchout moment with colleagues. We'd so much fun sharing stories and laughter over sumptuous dishes. Soft mid-morning air gently swirling around, blending with the aroma of delightful dishes.

It was the first time we dined outside as a complete team (although we have one colleague who is based in Cebu. Sorry Ben 😂) because most of us are on a work-from-home setup due to the pandemic. 

Peppered tuna steak 

Sir Efren and Sir Vic made a room for their schedule to come to the office for this year-end lunch. And because we're in the garden, we didn't require to sit arm-length from each other. 

With Sir Efren, our Property manager 

But we're minding with the government's protocol on social distancing and health guidelines. We entered the restaurant with our facemask and faceshield on but after we seated, the food crew gave us a paper pounch each to secure our facemask.

The crew handed us the menu that's QR-ready and we just scanned it with our mobile phone to generate the list. 

Prawn scotch eggs in betel leaves 

For starter, we sampled a set of prawn scotch eggs, betel leaves and coconut chili sambal. Php280 good for two. It tastes like some breaded meatballs with hard-boiled eggs.

Salt and pepper squid and shrimps 

We also tried the salt and pepper squid and shrimps with sweet soy and ginger starter. Php460 good for two. This one is really flavorful, very Asian taste. Crunchy and savory.

For the main course, we have Peppered tuna steak, warm potato and bacon salad, caper aioli. Php720 per plate good for one, and has no rice. According to my colleagues, it tastes awesome, with some spicy tang. 

Peppered tuna steak  Php720

I opted for Salmon fillet with green goddess potato salad, asparagus and leak, because I love grilled salmon. Php890 per order but has no rice so I ordered one cup separately.

Salmon fillet and green goddess potato salad, Aspagaragus and leak Php890

If you like salty, peppery dishes, this may not be a good meal for you. I find the recipe a bit bland, not flavorful enough to fascinate my very Asian tastebud. But I love the green goddess potato salad, it's so creamy and tasty. 

Kerala fish curry, basmati rice and papadum Php720

My colleagues chose Kerala fish curry with basmati rice and papadum (Php720). Tiger prawns in Kombu butter, sauteed spinach and nori rice (Php1, 080).

Tiger prawns and nori rice Php1,080

Despite my reservation on the bland Salmon fillet dish, Blackbird offers a great dining experience. With its fascinating ambiance, cool surroundings, classic interior, and delectable recipes (don't mind my not-so positive review on the salmon fillet), it's a relaxing place for a casual dining to celebrate life's moments over terrific meals. They've plenty to offer that suits everyone's palate. 

The Budget

Dining at Blackbird is such an awesome experience. And extra romantic with all the setup and style. Sumptuous and flavorful cuisine in big servings! So expect a pricey menu.

Vanilla panna cotta Php380

Budget per head starts at Php1,000. Main course servings usually don't have rice. If you're a typical Asian and can't live without rice during lunch or dinner, you need to put some extra budget. Rice per order is Php90.00.

Mango, passionfruit and orange shake 

For drinks, budget usually starts at Php100 for a can of soda. Fruit shakes per glass picks at Php160 while dessert like vanilla panna cotta with Black currant sorbet costs Php380.

Dark chocolate and Hazelnut 
semifreddo Php480

Another dessert we tried, the Dark chocolate and Hazelnut semifreddo (Php480) is so decadent and extra chocolatey, ideal for all chocolate lovers. 

Overall, Blackbird is a great dining place to celebrate the holidays over meals, or any special occasions. Great food, nice service, cool atmosphere. 

Me chilling at the garden lounge

Truly, an ideal place to relax over food this holiday season. An awesome gourmander destination. You'll momentarily forget the chaos of the pandemic outside. 

For more information about their menu, and reservation, you may visit their webiste, click this LINK or at mobile number +639178892782.

This wraps up my gourmand trip this year. Here's to a better world, better goals, better life, virus-free 2021! May the coming year will be finally an awesome period to explore the world of adventure and flavors.

Photo credit : Sarah, Sir Aldean, Sir Efren.

Merry Christmas and happy Holidays everyone! May your home be filled with all things this season brings: peace, love, joy, harmony, abundance and unity. 🎉

Until our next adventure! Thank you for being part of The Gourmand Travel Guide journey this year. 🤗 

Monday, August 31, 2020

A Taste of Latin America: Modern Peruvian Flavors at Tosh and Chikos

August 31, 2020 0
With Sarah, Ate Liza and Sir Aldean Plaza

The National Capital Region is still in GCQ (general communit quarantine) status, though movements are still limited, dine-in in food establishments is now permitted, with  strict social distancing protocol.

So here's my first gourmand trip with new colleagues in the time of pandemic.  A Peruvian cuisine food adventure!

No need to travel to Lima to sample Peruvian flavors in big servings, Makati City in the Philippines has plenty to offer of real Latin food taste. 

I haven't been to any food trip in Makati, this is my first time to visit a dine-in restaurant in the area. And my first since the metropolis has been placed on lockdown.

Life of a gourmand traveler is a bit crazy during this difficult time when movements are restricted and strict quarantine rules are put in place.

Going anywhere is prohibited, so taking adventure, both on the road and flavor, has been shackled. Thank God there's some opportunity to hop around for a quick gourmand trip. 

This moment to dine out is a great breather. Got a chance to do some food blogging again.  Very grateful with Sir Aldean, Ate Liza and Sarah for tagging me along. 🤗

What's in Tosh?

This food destination merged two Western food cultures - pasta of Italy and big servings of Latin America. Flavors that capture everyone's palate. 

Though I've been to some Latin-inspired restaurants like Silantro - a mix of Filipino and Mexican cuisine - and Taco Bell, I have never been to any Peruvian-themed restaurants. So, this is a bit new.

Stepping inside Tosh Cafe and Chikos feels like home, a classic experience. Interiors are earth tone, warm, homey and relaxing. And the setup looks like you're just dining at home.

Tosh Cafe prides itself as an old Spaghetti house serving a smorgasbord of delicate pasta fares  and All-Day breakfast favorites, while Chikos offers contemporary Peruvian dishes in big servings and rich flavors.

Homey interior of Tosh Cafe 

Modern Peruvian Dishes

Peru is a lovely South American country known for its hearty meals and starchy culinary flavors.

Just like most countries in Latin America, Peruvian menu is often composed of cheesy and creamy recipes, grilled chicken with side dishes, and usually in big flavors and servings.

Tosh Cafe and Chikos particularly highlighted this food culture of Peru in its menu. Savory flavors wafting in the air as you step inside. A typical gourmander delight.

Pasta and creamy concoctions, roast  chicken and flavorful grilled fish are the popular items in the menu.

Peruvian roast chicken 

In the Philippines, restaurants offering intercontinental fares have mushroomed in the metropolis in recent years but Peruvian-themed dining spots are not among them because it's somewhat a highly specialized cuisine done in elaborate cooking style. 

It's so rare to find a Peruvian-inspired restaurant in Metro Manila. So a gourmand trip to Tosh x Chikos is a good starting point to discover the unique taste of Peru.

The Dishes

They have the usual all-time breakfast fix. The pasta concoctions are some classic Italian favorites like Bolognese, Carbonara and Pesto.

Main course recipes are flavored chicken and salmon in creamy or grilled selections. And I loved the chicken recipe because of its succulent taste! Both selections are served  with either mashed potatoes and rice with side dishes. 

Pan Grilled Salmon Fillet served with mashed potatoes Php365.00

I chose the Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken with Salsa Verde served lettuce and plain rice, Php245.00 per serving and good for one. I love this recipe. Chicken meat is so tender and savory. 

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken with Salsa Verde Php245.00

Their Pan Grilled Salmon fillet with butter and served with mashed potatoes  is worth trying. The salmon slob is so huge for a single diner!

Must-try Dishes

Peruvian roast chicken sounds like a scrumptious treat at Tosh Cafe, it is known as Pollo A La Brasa with fried rice and french fries. 

Another one is Chicharron de Pollo, a Peruvian fried chicken specialty served with fried rice or pasta. Quarter cut is around Php195.00 while half cut is Php340.00. 

Peruvian Roast Chicken

Their pasta concoctions are also must-try! Classic savory in every taste, so cheesy and creamy, ideal indeed for pasta lovers. 

Pasta concoctions at Tosh Cafe

Pollo A La Brasa

Last Tuesday finally we tried this best-seller, tastier chicken recipe of Tosh x Chikos, Pollo A La Brasa is a savory grilled chicken soaked in rich aromatic spices. 

Pollo a la brasa quarter cut Php275.00

We chose the quarter cut portion in sour cream dip. The meal already has a one cup of plain rice and a side dish of your choice, we chose mac 'n cheese.  Php275.00 per order and good for one person. 


Tosh Cafe and Chikos is just located along Valero street in Salcedo Village, just a walking distance from Ayala Gardens.

Exact address: 142 Paseo Parkview Tower, Valero Street, Makati, Philippines. Telephone number: 228107527. This restaurant has a delivery option for those who do not want to dine in. Opens from 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 in the evening.

New normal in dining outside

In this time of pandemic, when most of us are living in the new normal era of home quarantining and social distancing, restaurants are also strictly abiding government protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Social distancing is strictly implemented for dine-in 

At Tosh Cafe, social distancing is strictly implemented for dine-in setup, and diners are having their temperatures taken by staff upon entering the establishments.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Basil Thai Restaurant. My Birthday Dinner

April 04, 2019 0
Garden area of Basil while waiting for its opening

A birthday dinner to celebrate my special day today!

Basil is a casual dining restaurant offering authentic Thai dishes. It has many branches in Metro Manila and the location we visited is the one at White Plains, along Katipunan avenue, Quezon City. Quiet, calm and relaxing, it's a dining place where you can still feel the vibe of an old home.

What I love about this restaurant, aside from its sumptuous dishes, is the homey ambiance. Surrounded with lush tropical plants and a small garden, the verdant trees protect diners from the hot afternoon atmosphere. Its interior is fabulously rustic with wood furnishing all over the place, plus the artistic fish bone designed chairs.

Basil restaurant outdoor area

I just discovered this place while doing research online for a garden restaurant near Mandaluyong.  My plan of taking a solo travel somewhere wasn't pushed through so I looked for an alternative within Metro Manila. No further explanation needs to do where the restaurant got its name. It's of course from the herb, Basil, a popular flavor among Thai dishes.

It was quite difficult to reach the place unless you're on a private car. Basil located deep into the village of White Plains. So we decided to take a grab ride. The opening hour is 6PM for dinner and we arrived early. At 5PM. The guard kindly led us to the garden to wait. It was cool and breezy,  due to verdant trees around. We're able to breathe the smoothness of the late afternoon air.

Warm interior

At 6:00, the staff called us to come in. We knew then that dinner is served indoor not outdoor.  When we strode inside we're greeted with a unique warmth of an old home typical to Asian houses. Earth tone furnishings, classic chandeliers, dim lightings with a minimalist interior design to resemble a Thai restaurant. The entire atmosphere was so extremely quiet. There were only few diners that day.

Thoroughly Asian theme, the dishes are concocted under Thai influence. I saw pad thai in the menu but we opted for the main course because we're very hungry. We didn't ask for their best-sellers, we just ordered what we thought could satisfy our hunger at the moment.

I already vowed never to eat meat from four-legged animals again due to my animal advocacy but it was my birthday so I made some exemption. I looked for something that fit my budget, and settled on grilled pork in honey sauce and chicken cashew nuts (chicken tenderloins coated in tapioca flour and sprinkled with cashew nuts), jasmine rice and a cup of brewed coffee. 

The grilled pork and the chicken cashew nuts are so extraordinarily savory and luscious, perfectly concocted to achieve that sumptuous Asian flavors. So good. So tasty! Other selections in the menu looked equally appetizing: Crispy garlic and pepper pork, Spicy beef, grilled prawns, Stir-fried fish with crispy holy basil, sticky rice with mango, Thai bagoong rice, vegetables and spring rolls. They also offered soup, seafood, appetizers and salad. 

Budget and Opening Hours

Budget starts from Php260 to Php300 for the main course but don't cringe with its pricey tag because what is interesting is that each selection is already good for sharing. Two to three persons, so it's really worth the value of money.

Opening time of Basil is at 11:30AM to 1:30PM in time for lunch, and 6:00PMto 9:30PM in time for dinner, Monday to Sunday. For avoid hassle, diners coming to the place must do reservation ahead of time. Contact number of Basil is (02)911-4518. But during our dinner, we didn't make a reservation, we just walked-in.

I like the service of their staff. Polite, attentive to the needs of the diners and respectful. They brought our orders with courtesy and made sure we're comfortable with our position in the area. They also doned outfit in Thai fashion. I also love the stillness of the place, very calm, peaceful and serene. Ideal for casual to serious conversation. So it's a good place for a date. 

Important Reminders

Basil is located inside the White Plains village, if you're coming on a private vehicle, follow waze. Its address is on Katipunan avenue.

The best way to reach the place free from hassle is through a grab ride. Parking area is not very wide so if you're bringing your car, please come early.

Cuisine is in Thai influence. Dishes are sumptuous. Though quite pricey, fares in the menu are worth the value of money. Appetizing and flavorful!

Budget starts from Php300 for the main course and this is for sharing already. For salad and appetizers start from Php250.00.


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