Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lunch at Verbena in Tagaytay

It's not often that I make my way out of Makati, much more out of town. So I do consider it a blessing that I found the time, energy and wonderful company to make it to Tagaytay this Saturday. Discovery Suites in Tagaytay is a wonderful, country-style inn with a lot of warmth of character. I've heard about Verbena Restaurant which had great reviews as well. And that was the reason I was on this road trip, to actually squeeze this restaurant in the itinerary.

When I look back at my once-married life, I get nostalgic about attending the Cheese Club at Manila Polo Club. My ex loved cheese and I guess he opened my eyes to it as well. But now that's a distant memory, and so is cheese. Sure, I can have the uninspired slices from Landmark supermarket or order fried mozarella at any bistro. But that would be eating cheese for the sake of it. Much as I love cheese by itself, I would sit upright for cheese that's prepared with a little more imagination. And that is why this Organic Mozarella Cheese Pot at Verbena melted my heart. On top, your basic mozarella. But under it hid a delightful Tomato Sugo with just a hint of spice. If I weren't with a companion, I would order three of these and not have an entree at all. It came with focacia that lets you dip in it fondue-style. I only touched a slice of that because I wanted this baby by itself. Yes, the cheese monster in me lives. Oh, I also liked the thoughtfulness of this being kept warm with flammable gel instead of the usual denatured alcohol. The flame was practically smokeless and odorless. So at least i got that played-with-fondue feeling without smelling like i played with kerosene.

For the Entree... The problem about rarely going out is that once I do, I hunger for everything. As in, everything on the menu. But since I'd rather keep my waistline as it is (actually, I'd rather have it smaller but that's a diferent issue) we settled for a bit of everything. And this is the phonepic that doesn't do justice for Verbena's Sampler Plate. At Php650, it's quite a good portion plus it has three of Verbena's best sellers: BBQ Lamb baby back ribs with polenta fries (there's two pcs of them there), the Salmon Fillet with Arugula-mushroom salad, and Short Ribs Goulash with Potato puree. Of the three, I liked Salmon the most (growing up in a Seafood loving family, I was trained not to prefer meat so my prefernce may not be fair). The goulash is very tender and the ribs just ok. The revelation here is the arugula mushroom salad tucked under the salmon which had a nice zing. That deserved special mention because I despise arugula, yet managed to eat this one. Yes, there's hope for green vegetables with a weird bitter aftertaste.

All in all, the visit to this restaurant is delightful, and I would suggest it to anyone driving up to Tagaytay. And much as I hate ending this like some stupid press release, I might as well put down the link:

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