Last night, on my one weekend in Manila, living a #Travelife, we had dinner at The Tasting Room of the NÜWA Hotel at the City of Dreams. The Tasting Room recently reopened in a new location in the hotel. It opened with a new chef, Frederic Thevenet, who has trained in several famous restaurants in Europe.
DESIGN OF THE TASTING ROOM OF NÜWA HOTEL
The new Tasting Room itself is much nicer than the original one. It has high ceilings, a feeling of spaciousness, and chic interiors similar to the styles of the top Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. This is a truly elegant restaurant now.
The team at The Tasting Room, too, offers a level of service not seen often even in the best restaurants in Manila. The team is friendly but professional and formal, as befitting a restaurant like The Tasting Room.
THE FOOD AT THE TASTING ROOM
Of course, the main attraction should be the food. In this aspect, the restaurant exceeded my expectations. We had the six-course tasting dinner. Each dish was created with classic techniques and hints of modern fusion and molecular gastronomy.
Personally, I look at the food in a restaurant in terms of taste, as well as in terms of plating. Dining in a fine restaurant is a full-on sensory experience, after all, so one’s eyes must be as pleased as one’s palate. The plating of each dish, along with the way of serving, was impeccable last night.
A JELLY MADE OF CAULIFLOWER
“Which was your favorite dish?” I asked my two companions, even if we had already agreed that everything was good. Julian said: “I liked the seafood dish with the oyster.” He meant our second course of king crab, scallops, oysters, cauliflower jelly, cucumber and dill.
In fact, the three of us had great fun guessing the ingredients of this particular dish. We could not figure out what the jelly was made of, but we all like it. Finally, one of us asked the waitstaff. When we were told that this was a cauliflower jelly, we three looked at each other with twinkles in our eyes, and we all said, almost simultaneously: “Yes, I thought so.”
Meanwhile, Igor and I both liked the chicken dish best, if I remember right; although, we definitely enjoyed everything else too. The chicken was the main course. It was served in two parts, with the white meat on a large plate and the dark leg meat served in a little container with a creamy morrel sauce.
We had to share the risotto that came with it as we were seated together and it was put in between us. “Do I have to share this with you?” I teased him. He actually let me have most of it as he was quite happy with his bread and butter.
FOOD AS ART
Every dish was beautiful, like an artwork on a plate. This is to be expected in the best restaurants of Europe, but it’s not so easy to find such exquisite plating in Manila.
Then, there were the little surprises that came with each dish. Sauces were poured, little jars of additional food were put on the table, and liqueur was even dropped onto one dish from a plastic syringe. These little details completed each course nicely.
THE WINE PAIRING COURSE AT THE TASTING ROOM OF THE CITY OF DREAMS
We ordered the wine pairing course to go with dinner. Each wine was very nice in itself, but each glass of wine complemented each course very well. The sommelier at The Tasting Room certainly did a good job of choosing the wines.
I was impressed that their wine pairing course included a glass of Ruinart champagne, which is a reasonably-priced good quality champagne not well known in Asia. It’s dry and refined in taste. This was a nice choice compared to starting off with one of the more popular but also more common champagne brands.
THE JOYS OF BREAD AND BUTTER
My friends loved the bread and butter, in particular. None of us are big fans of butter, for health reasons, but last night we all indulged because the butter was too good to pass up.
The Tasting Room at the City of Dreams gave us two kinds of butter last night. One was a semi-salted butter and the other was a seaweed flavored butter. Both were wonderful when paired with a particular kind of bread.
We had three choices for breads; and the loaves were set on a serving shelf just a few feet away from us, to be cut upon our request. Again, shades of the kind of service you get at top restaurants in Europe, which is very hard to find in Manila.
HERBAL TEA FOR THREE
The ending was lovely as well. A trolley of herbs from France was wheeled to our table and from here we could pick the greens to place in our herbal tea. We chose peppermint and sage, and the lady in charge of the tea trolley cut the leaves right in front of us to place in a pot of hot water.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN EUROPE
Again, I have seen this in many top restaurants in Europe, where very good herbal tea is an important end to a great meal. Off the top of my head, I remember having this same fresh herbal tea trolley service at Steirereck in Vienna, the Hostellerie de Plaisance in Bordeaux, and Les Crayeres in Champagne.
In Manila, however, this was my first time to have this kind of tea trolley service with herbs from France. The chocolates and petit fours that accompanied our tea were excellent, too. In fact, we asked for seconds because these were so good.
When we looked at our watches, it was 11 PM, and we had been at the table for four hours, enjoying a wonderful six-course tasting menu at The Tasting Room of NÜWA Hotel at the City of Dreams.
Tasting course of The Tasting Room
NÜWA Hotel at the City of Dreams
Beetroot / Angostura / Comte Cheese / Spinach
King Crab/ Scallop/Oyster / Cauliflower Jelly / Cucumber / Dill
Egg/ Caviar / Haddock
Lobster / Curry / Apricot
Chicken / Asparagus / Morels
Halo-Halo / Baba Rhum / Mango