March 08, 2012

Restaurant Review: Antonio's Garden Tagaytay


 Set on a one hectare compound in Tagaytay, the gastronomic sojourn to Antonio’s begins auspiciously. The entrance’s wide gate: grand, be-flowered and laced with vines presages a feast within. As it slides open, one enters the courtyard of what feels more like a grand manor, lost to the vagaries of time. Formally attired staff, decked out in French maid uniforms line up to greet you in an iconic, black and white tiled building constructed to feel like the relaxed summer home of a prince, a roguish cad, or perhaps both.

The interior, a breathtaking union of colonial heritage themes, peppered with contemporary twists and ringed by greenery evokes the dual familiarity of an ancestral home and art gallery. Many fine dining restaurants asphyxiate designers with over-embellished luxury; others exist as a mere blank canvas for the ensuing food. By contrast, Antonio’s luxury is one of relaxed elegance that invites us to sit, eat and be merry. Combined, with its garden-like exterior, the entire setting transcends notions of interior design, educing an emotion and specific milieu that transports visitors to a different world - one of crafted beauty and fantasy. It’s the living, breathing doll house every girl’s dreamed of, filled with all the flowers, artwork and sumptuous food you imagined. It is truly a playground of the senses.

Whilst much may be made of the setting, Australian-trained chef and owner Antonio Escalante has spared no expense in technique and ingredient to create highly complex twists on traditional western fare. On our lunch visit, a compelling gastronomic journey unfolds over four courses that give equal space and time to the finest local and imported produce. Much is memorable. The starting house salad is a perfect mix of flavor and texture. Bitter greens grown in the surrounding gardens are punctuated by a sharp raspberry vinaigrette of unparalleled flavor and sprinkled with caramelized walnuts and blue cheese. 
The prawn bisque with garlic wafer is a perfect blend of creaminess and   broad, complex flavor. Meat is the star of the show with the finest cuts of barbecued lamb on pumpkin sage rosini providing a twist to the traditional westernrecipe. However, choosing a main is often a choice of first amongst equals. Antonio’s Trio eliminates the pain of selecting a dish. 

The Beef Fillet on Plancha with a rich black pepper sauce, grilled beef on a bed of gratinated crepes, black truffle mash and honey glazed lambloin gratinated with goats cheese all feature on one plate, an exquisite triumph of complex flavor. The beef melts readily in the mouth and the truffle mash will have you licking your plate. Too full for dessert, Hunter Valley Shiraz Cabernet and cappuccinos concluded the meal instead.





The pace is relaxed and the service is excellent, with staff clearly on the ball and highly trained to anticipate our needs and readily offer recommendations; a facet often absent in the Philippines. Clearly, Antonio’s is fine dining - and refined dining - at its best.
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Millie

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 Listening to : Bach's Cello Suite No. 1
         Loving: Antonio's
              =( : heat wave

2 comments:

  1. I Love the place. wish I could there, someday :) I've been to Tagaytay for countless times but I never knew that there is a place called Antonio's Garden.. hmnnn am gonna search for it! :) Thank you Millie. by the way nice photos :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Joel!! I really hope you try out Antonio's. Have a great time! <3

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