Awesome Aubergine!
- Jennifer Ong (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a simple salad, but the white asparagus makes it so much more than that. Tonight at Aubergine, the white asparagus is the star of the Chef’s Specials and before me, it lies atop a rustic tomato-avocado vinaigrette. The palate tease does not stop there for this plate is adorned with thin slices of delicate Parma ham as well as a bunch of simple greens in raspberry dressing. It is at this moment that I taste what Aubergine is about: food done so simply that it becomes extraordinary.

Aubergine has actually been around for some five years. At the helm of its kitchen are executive chef Stefan Langenham and co-owner Norbert Gandler, with the help of students from the International School for Culinary and Hotel Management (ISCAHM). And helping run things oh-so smoothly is the very gracious operations manager Jun Araneta. Together, this trio has worked to make Aubergine among the top 20 restaurants in Asia, as chosen by the prestigious Miele Guide.

Now, back to my dinner, I can never refuse foie gras, especially if it’s done exceedingly well. At Aubergine, foie gras is served gratifyingly well in so many ways. Among my favorites is the pan seared duck foie gras atop a smoked Chilean sea bass cake and butter poached lobster tail served with some caramelized onion, tomato jam, salad greens in passion fruit vinaigrette, and a mango-papaya relish. There is also Aubergine’s French duck foie gras and duck breast delight, featuring a delicate foie gras terrine with some apple-Calvados jelly, pan seared duck foie gras on black cherries, and some home-smoked duck breast. Not to be missed, too, is the restaurant’s pan seared duck foie gras served with some homemade foie gras ice cream.

If this is not enough, Aubergine also serves simple, but stunning pan-fried tiger prawns and Arctic sea scallops with some greens tossed in passion fruit dressing, tomato compote, and red onion jam. There is also a fantastic trio of soups: my personal favorite, the earthy cream of wild mushroom with croutons and truffle espuma; the cream of white onion soup; and the cappuccino of green asparagus with baby beets and yellow chips.

Tonight, the interlude to this meal is Aubergine’s homemade raspberry ice cream. Afterwards, the restaurant’s main entrees usher you further into Aubergine’s world of gastronomic bliss.

From the Chef’s Specials comes the portion of white asparagus with sauce hollandaise gratinated with a ragout of lobster tail, porcini mushroom and leeks, and is served with some truffle-infused tagliatelle pasta. Then there’s the oven-roasted Australian lamb rack that has been gratinated with goat cheese and herbs. There is also the unforgettable lamb trio, featuring oven-roasted lamb loin, grilled lamb chop, and a sous-vide lamb shoulder confit. And how can anyone resist the French duck leg confit, served with a creamy braised root vegetable and potato mélange, red cabbage gateau, and port wine jus? Then there’s the incredibly tender duo of slow-cooked veal cheek and barbecued braised kurobota pork belly. And the pan-fried North Atlantic turbo fillet with some fennel-apple tortelloni, sautéed carrots, and lychee-ginger froth.

Dessert is mostly a host of irresistible chocolate creations. Aubergine’s dessert sampler features an enjoyable melting chocolate bar that consists of homemade ice cream coated in rich chocolate with some hazelnuts, mascarpone-nougat ice cream bar with chocolate on top of some rhubarb jelly, crème brulée, blueberry tonka bean panna cotta, and a chocolate pyramid.

Aubergine is more than a restaurant, it’s a true epicurean destination.

* * *

Aubergine is located at 32nd & 5th Building, 5th Avenue corner 32nd Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. For reservations, call 856-9888. Also visit www.aubergine.ph for more information.

AT AUBERGINE AUBERGINE CULINARY AND HOTEL MANAGEMENT DUCK FOIE FORT BONIFACIO FROM THE CHEF GRAS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
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