Monday, March 4, 2013

"Laters, baby" at La Girolle, having dinner with a La Sallite

Tonight, my die-hard La Salle friend M (the one who thinks Jose Rizal would've lived longer if he had been a La Sallite instead of an Atenean) took me to dinner at La Girolle, the French restaurant at The Fort with the hardest working chef in Manila.

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Many people consider this the best French restaurant in Manila -- or at least one of the best.

It's casually furnished and the food is so meticulously prepared that I almost get a stomach ache listening to Chef Ian Padilla's explanations on how he put together his dishes. They are truly labors of love.

In fact, a couple of months back, I actually asked him: "Why do you do this to yourself?"

I meant this in a good way, because so many of his dishes are so labor-intensive that I almost feel sorry for him.


In the beginning, when La Girolle first opened, it was pretty much hit and miss, in my opinion. But that's the same for every business and project.

It's steadily gotten better. On my last three visits I've enjoyed dinner very much.


Tonight I had the tasting dinner, and it was probably the most enjoyable one I've had at La Girolle.

This time, Chef Ian didn't do any explaining of menus to us.

I think he was too busy in the kitchen tonight since the restaurant was full. Besides, my friend M and I were so busy talking the whole night that he probably felt he wouldn't be able to get a word in.

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But Chef Ian did come out to say hello at the end of the meal -- or rather, it was goodbye, because it was 11 PM and he was going home.

Meanwhile, we were still staying on for a bit longer. This was when I told him that tonight's meal was the degustation menu I've liked best so far.

He said to me: "Oh no. We're changing it in two weeks."

So I'm glad I had it tonight.


Tonight's dinner was pretty spur-of-the-moment, by the way.

I'd been away from Manila basically since the beginning of February, and I just flew back in from Tokyo last night.

Today was my first day back in town, and I spent most of it having lunch at the Mandarin Oriental with GM Oliver Kreuzer and Thai Airways Country Manager Sern Chupikulchai, for Day 1 of the hotel's Thai food festival.

Thai Food Festival
at Mandarin Oriental Manila's Paseo Uno
March 4-10, 2013


Then, this morning, my friend M and I had been on text. We'd been texting and emailing about something between Tokyo and Manila since last week.

And this morning was just the continuation. Except that I was now in Makati and M was out of town. Or actually he was getting into his helicopter to head back to Manila as he was texting me.

As he was taking off in his helicopter, he sent me a text: "Dinner tonight, if you're free? I'm using the chopper now going back to Manila so I can't talk; but I'll call you when I land in an hour." I had a spa appointment tonight, but I decided then and there to re-schedule this to have dinner with M.

He did call me when he landed, and we agreed that he would pick me up at 630 PM.


Then off I went to lunch at the Mandarin.

In the middle of lunch, though, my Blackberry pinged and it was an email from M, on his iPad, with some joke I strained to understand -- it must've been his La Salle humor, because I didn't get it.

So I quickly replied: "I have no idea what you're talking about. But I'm having a very nice lunch now at the Mandarin, so please don't bother me with strange messages until you pick me up later at 630 PM."

Of course, he knew I was only half-joking, although I really didn't get the joke.


And I certainly didn't get his closing remark on the email. He wrote exactly this: "Laters, baby. (Hope you know the line)."

I so didn't get that. But if you've read a certain book, you'll know what he meant. I only learned what this was all about over dinner tonight.

And that's the short version of how we ended up at La Girolle tonight.

It was a really enjoyable dinner. When we weren't discussing some serious things, we were laughing about all kinds of topics that I've promised not to blog about.

But tomorrow I'll write more about the stuff he's given me a go-signal to blog about. All 50 shades of grey of it.


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