June 7, 2023

This is a meal enjoyed because of the surprises in the presentation and the flavors of the food. It also goes with some delight in the service and courtesy of the staff for an enjoyable lunch thru to the merienda buffet on the same day.

This compliment goes to the chef of L’ Epicure who has allowed us to enjoy the food like a gourmand or gastronome which the name suggests. If you have noticed, I enjoy the game of letting you search a little for the location of these places that I feature in this page because I am not advertising the restaurant or café but the meals that they present.

Let us begin with spinach artichoke dip. The menu says that it is artichoke and spinach in a blended cheese fondue. If you have enjoyed the fondue in any form, you can imagine the process this dip has gone through. A cheese lover, I was delighted in the chewy nature of the dip with the fresh spinach and artichoke in a blend of cheeses used. The appetizer came with buttered slices of French bread and the flatbread lavash.

My first encounter with this dip was with Junie Belvis, but the bottled commercial type, which I fell in love with at first bite. This edition at L’ Epicure is better than that. The lavash was a new adventure in tasty bread. The biscuits and the buns were delicious too.

Oriental salad in the menu is described as garden lettuce, mangoes, cucumber, and tofu cubes with roasted sesame dressing. The presentation of this salad was an exploration in space. The salad was loosely set in a half of the square plate  with a generous amount of tofu in a bed of green lettuce, cucumber slices, ripe mango cubes, halves of cherry tomatoes, slivers of red cabbage, and pickled radish.

It looked like a curly head and a smile made of the roasted sesame dressing on the plate. The use of oriental in the name will always come with roasted sesame in the preparation if you ask me.I was not disappointed; the dressing is freshly made with roasted sesame seeds. The pickled radish in pink, red tomato halves, yellow mango cubes, and the purple strips of fresh cabbage made this crispy and juicy explosion in the mouth a wonderful start to the other adventures of food. There is an extra helping of dressing to those who like to drown the veggies in the sweet, sour, and oily blend with the aromatic sesame seeds.

Bagnet with ensalada pakbet is described as pork belly fried until crispy with traditional vegetable salad. The server said that the management was asked to add some Pilipino dishes in the menu and they gladly included familiar dishes to share. The pakbet ensalada will surprise you because the chef has deconstructed the ordinary pakbet into grilled vertical slices of okra, eggplant strips, green chili peppers, string beans, tomato halves, and squash cubes that were sauteed in a shrimp paste with some sweet molasses soy.

The artful drizzle makes the presentation of the separate crispy pork belly slices readily sliced on the bone to bite sizes before frying and the sauteed veggies. The presentation comes with a drizzle of the sweet molasses soy topped with green onions in ribbons and crispy garlic bits. This is a delicious adventure.

Red wine braised chicken which is described as chicken braised with red wine, bacon lardons, and mushroom was the top of the heap. The watercress gives this dish it’s unique flavor. The tender chicken thigh wrapped in bacon in the thick sauce with mushrooms was superb. You could actually taste the tart in the wine while eating the meat. The button mushrooms flavored the sauce even more with its smokey flavor. This is perfectly salted and spiced to thrill the tastebuds. Truly a gastronomic and visual adventure that is different. Thanks to the chef.

We went on to stretch the lunch hour into the merienda buffet. I wish I could have reserved the adventure for a hungrier time. This is happy mix of Asian, Italian and Western snacks.

My most curious snack was the champorado and tuyo flakes. This is the only truly Pinoy part of the buffet. I enjoyed it because it is different from my version. I like my tuyo crispy but this was nice, salty and tender. The chocolate in the rice porridge was noticeably expensive because of the flavor but this is cooked with coconut milk, according to my tastebuds.

I was wondering what the dalgona was, but it was faintly familiar. Then I remembered the Korean television series Squid Game where this dalgona was a qualifying game. Dalgona is a Korean candy made of melted sugar and baking soda, much like our tira-tira decades ago, except this has shapes that are engraved in the middle which should be taken out perfectly with any implement, even by licking. My tastebud went for the taste and not the game. This can be a game for younger buffet eaters together with the sugar cookies shaped like soldiers.

The Italian canape-bruschetta was a merry mix of tomatoes finely chopped with alfalfa sprouts and onions  with a bit of shrimp on a slice of French bread or some kind of baguette.

The chicken ala king was so good on a flaky crust. These mini versions of the diced chicken in a creamy sauce with mushrooms, bell peppers, and potatoes were a change in flavors. I was awed by the crust that was specially made for this snack because it consisted of multilayers of bread mixture cut in circles that you can eat by layer.

The fresh lumpia was delightful too. The mini-spring roll wrapped in crepe shows the care taken to prepare the Chinese inspired vegetable snack. This is accompanied by a peanut sauce that perks up the taste of the sauteed vegetables inside.

The leche flan in a spoon with the cherry on top, the bite of maja blanca, the bite of biko, the cup of pandan jelly, puto pao with meat, and the sugar cookie were all good and not presented like the commercial ones that we are used to.

I had to taste the pasta with meatballs. This too is creamy and the cheddar cheese that was used to top it was good. It seemed like this blended the goodness of carbonara with tomato sauce.

The laksa was authentic in its flavors and noodles. This is spicy and as is expected from this Asian noodle dish. The soup is warm for these rainy days.

There are the pizzas too, the vegetarian minty pizza and margherita are available in squares for the pizza lovers.

There were so many more snacks available, these include the Pico de Galo chips and toppings, mini beef burger sliders and fries, chicken popcorn, and meatballs. Not to forget the halo-halo that is also available.

My apologies for the short description on those that were not sampled.

So, we salute the chef of L’ Epicure. You made us instant gourmands for the day.

The gastronomic adventure has no descriptions.