When CEOs, executives crave for a taste of France
I stared at the starters section of the menu for a good two minutes, trying to process what I had just read.
An item was priced at P17,888 and it wasn?t a bottle of Margaux. The item is 50 grams of Caviar Ossietra Malosol.
Does anyone really ever order this? I asked the chef later. Yes! he confirmed.
Best French restaurant
The restaurant with the pricey item is Impressions at Maxim?s Hotel in Resorts World. Beside it is the Genting Club, that exclusive club for high rollers (membership fee in the millions).
The hotel, though, does not feel so much like a hotel as it does a mall. At the ground floor are a multitude of high end shops (Cartier, Bulgari, U-Boat) in the hall leading to the entrance of the main casino where Mitoy, The Voice Philippines winner, performs regularly. It connects to the Newport Mall where the theater and cinemas are located. Impressions is located on the 3rd floor and is not exclusive to gamers or guests of the hotel but open to the public.
It is the best French fine dining restaurant in the country today. Not because of that ridiculous caviar but because of everything else. The chef shared that he loves working at this restaurant because he is allowed to order anything he needs to create that perfect menu. And it shows.
Oysters for connoisseurs
There is a section on the menu just for French oysters. Oysters are serious business for connoisseurs who rate these just like wines. You will hardly find this kind of appreciation for oysters in any other restaurant in the country. And Impressions notably offers the best: the menu includes David Herve Fin de Claire, Gillardeau Marennes-Olerson Basin, La Royale Cabanon and Belon Brittany.
David Herve (see davidherve.com) is acknowledged by French experts as the best source of oysters in the world. His label is known as the Rolls Royce of oysters. The Fin de Claire is a special appellation that indicates that the oysters went through a special maturing process to meet that high French standard of special balanced aroma. (Such meticulous noses these French have!)
La Royale Cabanon, also produced by David Herve, has been described as being in a class of its own. Its oysters have a firm, crisp and slightly sweet taste, having been stored for eight months.
The Gillardeau is another special source as this family has been producing oysters since the 19th century!
This is how its oysters are described: A Gillardeau is savored first with the eye. For the connoisseur, the substantial flesh of the Gillardeau makes an immediate impact. This voluptuous, firm, almost crunchy flesh invades the palate, creating an enchanting experience of taste, both mineral and vegetable and is extended by a crescendo of delicately sweet, subtle and refined flavors. Lingering on the palate, this meaty flesh with its aromatic finesse and enduring nutty flavor is the signature taste of the Gillardeau. (http://www.speciales-gillardeau.fr/)
Truly for the connoisseur!
There is also a feast for the meat eaters. The chef at this restaurant is Cyril Soenen, who made his entrance a couple of decades ago at Prince Albert, which had the reputation of serving the best steak in the country. Impressions offers beef carving of US prime rib and veal shank.
But don’t let the opportunity of having Chef Cyril himself cook for you go to waste. The Frenchman, in spite of marrying a lovely Filipina, never lost his le coeur.
He makes a carpaccio of lamb loin that is so fine that instead of a hint of gaminess, there is just the gist of an elegantly rich slice of meat. Instead of just slicing the goat cheese, Impressions experts meticulously roll tiny balls then place them atop the meat, to break the monotony.
For a seafood platter, he lines a piece of oyster, a scallop, a little chunk of crab meat and a dollop of sea urchin on a tartine brioche sauteed in clarified butter. It’s close-your-eyes good. And for an extra touch of elegance, the chef has a sea urchin parfait held by a rolled slice of zucchini on the side. This starter is absolute heaven. Don’t worry, this won’t cost you an arm and a leg but reasonably priced at P950.
The restaurant also offers pigeon, flown in from France. But, the chef being French, it is served in a pithivier (a puff pastry pie) along with loads of foie gras (Rougi) and mushrooms, including chanterelles when they are in season. I don’t think anything can get more succulent than that! This dish is hearty and homey yet also opulent and incredibly indulgent.
For the non-meat eaters, indulge in the lobster. Impressions has live lobster for the purists. But I prefer the Brittany lobster, sliced and served with risotto, assorted mushrooms, with a sea urchin foam to complement it. It’s a beautiful pescatarian dish.
Like a million bucks
Cap your dinner with the French Mille Feuille. And be amazed at how the French can make something so fancy out of layers of what is reminiscent of our humble otap.
With all that amazing food, you will feel like you won the lottery even if you just lost at the casino. And you won?t even need to bust 17 grand on caviar just to get that feeling.
Any of Chef Cyril Soenen’s dishes on the menu should be more than enough to make you feel like a million bucks.
3/F Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Domestic Airport, Pasay
Walk-ins allowed. Tel. 9088883
Open daily for dinner starting at 6 p.m. to 12 m.n. Sunday Brunch Buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wheelchair access via elevator. Major credit cards accepted.
Follow the author Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @margauxsalcedo. Blog: margauxlicious.com.
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