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Food and Leisure

Chef Miko Calo’s moveable feast

Therese Jamora-Garceau, Scott Garceau - The Philippine Star

Metronome, the modern French restaurant helmed by Joel Robuchon-trained chef Miko Calo, just launched a bistro menu for lunch, and partaking of it is like dining in Paris — either the modern-day City of Lights, or Ernest Hemingway’s Moveable Feast days in the 1920s — that’s how timeless the décor and food are.

Enjoying the Parisian tradition of bistro lunches at Metronome wasn’t always the case.

“Before the pandemic, we agreed that we wouldn’t be opening for lunch because it was going to be hard,” Calo admits. “But then the pandemic hit and we really reassessed the whole situation. And then we decided to open for lunch, and actually, the first lunch was just our à la carte menu. And it kind of didn’t work because the way things are set up with us it’s a longer dining experience.”

So they decided to do it the way lunches are done in Paris: “There’s a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, there’s all kinds of classic comfort fare, done — not fast, but done well.”

The menu is so well edited it can be taken in at a glance, and it’s so simple to order: just choose a starter, main course, and dessert.  Sides like French fries and Truffle Fried Rice are optional.

“I chose dishes that were a little bit more familiar,” notes Calo, “like, people know what a beef bourguignon is — very typical of a Paris bistro.”

Other familiar choices are French onion soup, Steak Frites, Duck Confit, and the Metronome Burger, a 100% USDA Prime Beef patty with pan-seared foie gras, caramelized onions, Emmental cheese and mustard in a brioche bun served with fries.

After you order, they serve a basket with four different kinds of bread from various sources: pan de pinipig from Panaderya Toyo, a mini baguette from The Daily Knead, multi-grain sourdough from Manila Bake, and brioche made in-house.

“It’s a collaboration with different bakers,” notes Calo. “We worked on the things that I wanted and they made it exclusively for me. It also highlights local artisanship, which is quite important for us.”

These breads are as sublime as breads can get: piping-hot, crusty, soft, airy, crunchy, and flavorful. Therese loved the baguette, which tastes like the ones she’s had in Paris.

Then came the starters:  Scott had the Soup of the Day, which was Roasted Tomato Velouté — creamy, velvety, herby and fresh, with a hint of curry spices. Smooth and delicious, it was indeed a comforting opener.

Therese had the French onion soup, which is like a meal in itself, covered with melba toasts and dense with the onion and cheese that strings up with every spoonful. Surprisingly, Calo makes this classic recipe with red onions.

“Because we couldn’t find white onions for a while,” she explains. “Now I’ve seen what we can do with the red onions. You just need to make sure that you cook it properly and it doesn’t burn. Actually, the taste is a little fuller.”

Scott’s main was Lamb Ragout Parmentier, which he says was tender and succulent.

“This is braised in white wine and tomatoes and we finish it with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice,” Calo says. “And on top, we also make a ragout of vegetables that’s also finished with ras el hanout, so it has an almost Moroccan flavor, a warmth.”

The lamb is sourced from “an Australian company called Roaring 40s, but it’s raised in a coastal town, almost like the Pyrenees lamb; they take care of it the same way.”

Pescatarian Therese had the Mussels Mariniere Linguine, an appetizingly plated swirl of pasta generously dotted with plump Bouchot mussels cooked in white wine and onions.  The linguini was perfectly al dente, the mussels fresh and the sauce lightly creamy. Perfection.

We also wanted a vegetable dish, so we ordered the Ratatouille & Tapenade, which is best in class. We spread the chunky, tomato-ey vegetable stew on toasted bread coated with the salty olive tapenade — which reminded us of Christmas with its flecks of red and green peppers — and it was good.

Another bistro item chef Miko wanted to highlight — the Hunter’s Chicken — was one of her very first dishes, so it’s a nostalgic choice: “It’s a classic poulet a la chausseur, and that was the first meat dish that actually I made in school, so it stuck with me. It’s so comforting, and it’s when I really realized the importance of cooking with good wine and cooking with cognac — it takes it to another level.” She says her version is “almost a fricassee, but with white wine flambéed with cognac and nice bacon.” Metronome uses chicken from Brazil, “so it is meatier and we only use dark meat.”

We moved onto dessert. Working with her pastry chef Ginno Hernandez (“He’s had a lot of experience abroad, done some competitions, and he’s super-talented and very exacting, as a pastry chef should be”), chef Miko kept the bistro theme for a trio of selections. “So everything’s classic. We have the classic chocolate mousse — you know how sometimes in the bistros in Paris they actually come in big bowls and just scoop it up and put it on their plate? We’re not doing that here, but it’s a classic dark-chocolate mousse.” Chef Miko uses French chocolate, but Auro chocolate from Davao as well, saying, “It should be equal-opportunity, an even playing field for Filipino chocolate makers.”

They also serve a heap of mini profiteroles and salted caramel Bavarois.  Full disclosure: We tried all three. The dark chocolate mousse was terrifically airy and light; the salted caramel Bavarois had an almost savory combination of caramel, nuts and sauce poured into little Chantilly-cream cups; and the profiteroles were decadently drizzled with chocolate and whipped cream. All were delicious, gilding the lily on a very French bistro meal.

* * *

The new bistro lunch menu is available Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Metronome, G/F The Grand Midori Makati, Bolanos Street, Legazpi Village, Makati, tel. 0917-147-3776, 8618-4337 or visit restaurantmetronome.com.

METRONOME

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