Friday, August 28, 2009

Aresi Restaurant and Bar

Around ten years ago, Aresi Restaurant was near ABS-CBN. I liked going to that restaurant because it had ambience, the food was good, and it was reasonably priced. At that time, actress Gloria Romero's daughter Maritess Gutierrez was the chef. After a few years though, they closed up shop, and from what I heard it was because of issues with the ones who were leasing the property.

I missed having Aresi around. I distinctly remember looking forward to having their shrimp risotto, ale-battered fish, and mushroom soup. I heard that they still had a branch in Subic, but that is too far for Manila-bound me.

I was therefore very excited when I heard that Aresi had opened again, this time in Il Terrazzo, still along Tomas Morato. I went there with some friends to check it out and see if it was still the Aresi that I so fondly remembered.

When I got there, I saw that the ambience felt a little bit more formal and upscale. The interiors were on the dark side, with dark wood and browns dominating the place. I excitedly opened the menu to see if my old favorites were still there. Sadly, they were not, except for the mushroom soup, which I ordered. I also had their four cheese pizza.

Mushroom Soup

The mushroom soup tasted exactly like it did years ago, but the serving was noticeably smaller. As for the pizza, it was good except that I thought it could do with more cheese. As you can see from the photo, the cheese didn't really extend all the way till the end of the crust.

Quattro Formaggio

What really hit me as the biggest change in the restaurant were the prices. Obviously, with inflation, they would have increased compared to when I used to go there years ago. But I realized that with their upscale interiors came upscale prices as well. It seems like the restaurant's target market has changed, since the casual dining feel has changed to that of fine dining.

Would I go back there? I'm not really sure. All I know is that the Aresi of yesterday, with its to-die-for shrimp risotto, is no more.

Aresi Restaurant and Bar
2nd Level Il Terrazzo
35 Tomas Morato corner Scout Madrinan
Quezon City
Tel. No. (632)332.1941 or 332.1942.

La Maison, Trinoma, Quezon City

I was going to have dinner with my parents at Trinoma, and I wanted to go to a place I'd never been to before. I was still at the office running late for our date, and I hadn't decided where to eat, so I hurriedly checked the Internet for a place we could try. I came across the restaurant La Maison, and according to some blogs (at least the first two I stumbled upon), they had "good creamy mussels" and "excellent service".

Seafood Bounty

As usual, my parents were there ahead of me, so I went straight to business and ordered. We had the Lobster Bisque, the Chinoise Crab salad, and their Seafood Bounty (which had the creamy mussels previously mentioned).

Chinoise Crab Salad

I am sorry to say, but the dishes were a bit disappointing. Well, except for the mussels. First, about the soup. I actually liked the taste of the bisque; what I didn't like was how watery it was. It was pretty much the consistency of, well... water (like I said, WATERY).

Lobster Bisque

The Salad also tasted okay, but the leaves were quite soggy. Finally the Seafood Bounty, which consisted of creamy mussels, shrimps, fish, and calamari. We finished only the mussels, and took home most of the rest. This is pretty telling, considering I rarely leave a dish uneaten. The shrimp was a bit tough, and the fish and calamari were not particularly memorable.

What I did like about the place was the service of the staff (the blog I read was right about that), and also the complimentary black bread they gave at the start of the meal. Unfortunately these things are not enough to convince me to ever go back to La Maison.

La Maison
Trinoma Mall
2nd Level Trinoma
EDSA corner North Avenue
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. No. 916.6351

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surprise birthday party, food from Kuchen, cake from Estrel's

My friends from the defunct show Alas Singko Y Medya very thoughtfully threw me a very small surprise lunch for my birthday. They told me to meet up with them at the news makeup room, and when I got there, they turned on the lights and sang the happy birthday song. They even had a cake with a candle for me to blow out.

Yeng ordered the food from Kuchen, a home-based catering business. I liked the eggplant parmigiana, although I thought the pieces were a bit too large, thus making it hard to cut and eat using plastic utensils.

Spaghetti Vongole, Eggplant Parmigiana

Kate brought dessert. I always enjoy having Estrel's caramel cake, but I probably don't get as excited as others do about eating it, because it's been a part of almost all of our family gatherings since I was a small child. I think I'm somehow related (I'm not sure if it's by blood or by affinity) to "Tita Estrel", as we referred to her as children. Like any typical child, I probably said petulantly, "Caramel cake again???" after the nth reunion which had this as the featured dessert.

Estrel's famous Caramel Cake

At any rate, a big lunch like that is a great way to celebrate one's birthday, especially if it's unexpected, and organized by some of your best and most trusted friends.