Gaucho Cocina y Vinos Argentinos (3rd Floor Al Fresco, The Park at Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Fuguazetta (Spinach and Italian Prosciutto Argentinean thin crust Pizza) and Falda a la Cruz (Slow Roasted US Beef Shortplate)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          The Fuguazetta was a very nice appetizer. It was thin crust pizza made with chickpea flour and provolone. We chose prosciutto and spinach as toppings and the result was a good pizza. The spinach was on the sweet and chewy side while the provolone cheese was a fresh taste from the usual mozzarella. The taste of the prosciutto was not really detectable probably because they only placed one strip per slice but it was still a good pizza. The serving of the US Beef was outrageous. We weren’t able to finish half of the deliciously-seasoned beef. The beef was so tender and had a delicious dry rub on it. Plus, the fat gave the beef slices a lot of juiciness. The dish came with Chimichurri sauce which tasted like parsley with avocado which went really well with the meat. The organic pickles included: shallots, which were sweet; chopped eggplants which were sour; and zucchinis, which were mildly sweet and sour. All of the sides went surprisingly well with the beef.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          When we got there, it was really late in the night and all of the staff’s attention was on us. We had great service at first but when some of the employees went home already, the remaining servers were focused on housekeeping duties. But we still received good service overall.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          There was a fine dining atmosphere from the outside to the dining area. The look and feel of the dining area was refined even if there was a roasting/fire pit near the middle of the floor.  The atmosphere was romantic but relaxing but I’m sure it would have been a lot different if we came during their Milonga (tango) nights.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          If we knew how big the serving was for the Beef Shortplate dish, we wouldn’t have ordered an appetizer. Ordering that dish alone would have been more than enough for us since it was served with unlimited garlic rice. The only thing that put us off a little was that while our Fuguazetta was almost as expensive as the main dish, they were worlds apart in terms of serving size.

Click here for their Facebook page.

New Orleans Bourbon Street Ribs, Steaks and Oysters (Upper Ground Level, Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: September 2013 (The update is at the end of this review)

What we ordered:

Oyster Rockefeller, Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Marinara and Kansas City Ribs

Taste = 4.5/5

–          We were looking for a restaurant that was open late in Sta. Mesa area and we thought of going to Robinsons Magnolia. We were lucky that this restaurant was open until 12mn and even had a live band that day. The waiter said we should try their ribs and oysters and good thing we listened to him. The oysters were excellent. It actually tasted more like pizza and the oyster taste was not strong at all, which was perfect for us. The bacon, cheesy crust, barely bitter spinach and the fresh-tasting oysters blended so well with each other. We knew that this restaurant wasn’t known for their pasta but the sauce of the Seafood Marinara was excellent. It had the right amount of sourness and sweetness that really complimented the mixed seafood and the linguini. However, the squid was a little overcooked and some of the other seafood tasted a little too fishy. Their specialty was the Kansas City Ribs. The taste was delicious and the serving was large. The “dirty” rice that was served with the ribs reminded me of good shawarma rice and was really good. Though the ribs were not really fall-off-the-bone tender, the meat had a very nice sweet and a little bitter barbeque flavour to it that made eating it really pleasurable.

Service = 5/5

–          We were practically the only customers when we went there so we got great service. Even when 4 more customers arrived, the level of service did not change.

Ambience = 5/5

–          Since we were practically alone when we arrived and they had a live band, we felt as if it was a very special private date night. We really liked the songs they were playing and it made us enjoy staying in their restaurant. The couch seats were very comfortable and everything looked well-maintained.

Value for money = 5/5

–          Because of the good-tasting food, large serving sizes and great ambience, the prices they charged were really reasonable. This is a nice place to go to if you’re hungry in the Aurora-Gilmore area late in the evening. Unfortunately, this branch has already closed down as of this posting.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Conti’s (Upper Ground Floor, Al Fresco Area, Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ate:

Chicken Barbecue and Grilled Pork Chops

Taste = 4/5

–          The Chicken Barbecue meat was very tender and juicy. It was clear that they marinated the chicken very well. The atchara (pickled green papaya and carrots) was the perfect side to the sweet, salty and a little spicy Chicken Barbecue. The sour taste really enhanced the Pinoy style Chicken Barbecue and Java rice. The Grilled Pork Chops were relatively large. One of the chops was cooked very well but the other one was a little bit overcooked as it was on the tough side. The sauce tasted deliciously creamy and it was not your usual gravy. What I liked most about the chops was the deliciously grilled fat layer, which didn’t taste disagreeable compared to your usual pork chops.

Service = 2.5/5

–          We have been to this branch multiple times and to be fair, this branch is very consistent: very consistent in providing slow service, that is. The dishes took too long to cook and serve plus you have to talk to several waiters just to get water (they don’t provide water by default). This is if you can even call their attention fast enough before they turn their heads the other way. At least they were smiling and they seemed happy.

Ambience = 4/5

–          The place is located at an odd corner of Robinsons Magnolia where you can only access this place by going out of the mall and risking getting wet whenever it rains. The dining area was quite small and it was full when we were there so I thought twice before I left my seat to go to the comfort room. On the positive side, it was bright inside and conducive to dining with parents.

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          The quality and taste of their food and their ambience were fine. Unfortunately, their service hasn’t improved at all.

Click here for their website.

Mesa Filipino Moderne (3/F Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ate:

Tofu Salad, Hito Flakes on Spoon, Laing 2 ways, Tinapa Roll Wrapped in Lettuce, Chicken Binakol, Baby Squid in Olive Oil, Pinatayong Manok, Crispy Boneless Pata, Crispy Leche Flan and Leche Flan

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          This is definitely one of the best modern Filipino restaurants in Manila serving good Filipino food with twists and turns. The tofu salad was more like soft small tofu cakes with shrimp on top swimming in a lightly salty dressing. They were very good appetizers and had a clean taste. The Hito (catfish) Flakes tasted good but I couldn’t really tell if they were catfish or pork floss. It was combined with mangoes, onions and chilli, which gave the dish a little zing to it. For me, the best dish was the Laing (Taro leaves with pork, coconut cream and shrimp paste). They served it two ways: original and crispy. It was sweet, salty, a little spicy, savoury and the crispy version had a very nice contrast in texture to the soft taro leaves. It was really executed very well. It made me hungrier actually. The Tinapa (smoked fish) Roll had too much of the smoked fish flavour in my opinion but those who like smoked fish will love this dish. The Chicken Binakol is chicken soup with coconut and papaya. It was good but I just couldn’t taste enough of the coconut in the soup. The Baby Squids were great. Lyn really liked the way they were cooked in olive oil and garlic. The squid meat had the perfect texture to them – not mushy and not tough. The Pinatayong Manok (Standing Chicken) was initially served as if it was standing on a plate then the servers carved it on the table. The meat was very tender and juicy but the taste was not out of the ordinary. The Crispy Boneless Pata (pork leg) tasted good with the crispy skin and very tender pork meat but I was looking for the feeling of getting pork skin and fat stuck behind my teeth because to me, that is the sign of good Crispy Pata. The Leche Flan (Creme caramel or milk flan) tasted very creamy and sweet. The Crispy Leche Flan is Leche Flan wrapped with lumpia wrappers (egg wrappers) then fried and served with more caramel. Yummy!

 

Service = 3/5

–          We were dining in one of their function rooms and they were barely half full but we received mediocre service only. They had ample staff but it seemed that they were very distracted and it showed. It was hard for us to call their attention and when they came with our requests, they only partially fulfilled them.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was a bit small but the theme was contemporary Filipino. Their seats were comfortable and it was clean everywhere.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices for their food items were on the expensive side. I think they have to improve on the taste of their food a little bit but their service sorely needs to pick up.

Click here for their Facebook page (different branch).

Miso-Ten (2/F Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ordered:

Miso Ten Original and Excellent Set Meal (Ebi, Eggplant, String Beans, Pumpkin, Kani Salad, Miso Soup, Rice and Fruits)

 

Taste = 4/5

–          We were looking for good ramen at Robinsons Magnolia and we chose to try this restaurant first. Their ramen was miso-based but there was a sesame flavour to it which made the taste different from their miso soup. The pork slices were very tender and tasted like good asado which complimented the dish very well. The noodles were cooked nicely and were soft but not doughy. The egg (ajitamago) was interesting: it had the umami taste and was nicely soft-boiled. A really good compliment to the broth and ramen. Lyn appreciated the crunch when she took a bite off one of the tempuras (Ebi). Their tempura was one of the best we have tasted. The prawn meat was thick and the crust was very crunchy and yummy. Our only disappointment was that they didn’t use Japanese mayonnaise on the Kani salad.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          The servers were attentive and were mostly smiling plus the food was served quick enough.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant had an indoor dining area and an al fresco area. The indoor are was a little cramped and cold. On the other hand, it was quite comfortable on the alfresco area when we ate there.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices were above average considering the quality, taste and serving sizes of their food. They should have at least used Japanese mayonnaise and also improved on the serving size of their ramen. It just looked large but it felt like a meriyenda size of other establishments.

 Click here for their Facebook page.

ClawDaddy’s Great American Picnic (Upper Ground Level, Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1376065576571Date visited: August 2013

What we ordered:

Ribs and Crabs buffet and Baltimore Fish and Chips

 

Taste = 4/5

–          For a limited period, this branch had a weekend buffet of ribs and crab. Knowing that this is part of the Red Crab group, I didn’t let this buffet pass. There were other dishes there but I was really focused on the crabs. The crabs were cooked Szechuan style and in garlic and butter. The quality of the sweet crab meat were superior to most restaurants but not really as good as the crab dishes in the main Red Crab restaurant, which I expected since it was just a buffet. The Szechuan style was also a little bland but the garlic and butter flavour was really good. I dipped the garlic and butter flavoured crab meat in vinegar and the result was indescribably good. I ate the yummy crabs for almost 2 hours. The ribs, some served fried while some were grilled, were on the tough side and even if they were served with no sauce, they tasted good by themselves. Lyn didn’t think she could maximize the buffet at that time so she had Fish and Chips. She said the fish tasted like your usual battered fish fillet but on the plus side, the serving was large.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          There were a lot of staff on the dining area and most of them provided good service while a few looked like they were just waiting for closing time.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was not that large and when they added a buffet table, it got even smaller. I don’t know if they planned it but the flow of people going to the buffet didn’t cause much disorder. It was actually a pleasant experience for us.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The price of the buffet was very reasonable but the other items on the menu were on the expensive side. I hope they would do the buffet again.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Elias (UG/F Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1372860738997Date visited: June 2013

What we ordered:

Sisig Linares (Pork Sisig), Carlota (Squid Fillet sautéed in Garlic Oyster Sauce with Chilis), Dona Victorina (Sautéed Prawns in Crab Fat) and Espana (Ginataang Manok at Gulay with Tanglad)

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          With names like Espana, Carlota, Linares and Dona Victorina, we expected the food to be extra special. We weren’t disappointed with the taste of most of the dishes. The sisig was very good. It was very meaty with lots of onion and a salty-sweet sauce. The taste of the squid dish was not that good since it tasted bland and the meat was on the tough side. The prawns were delightful. The crab fat sauce was creamy and went very well with the prawn. The chicken dish was what surprised me the most. I am not really a fan of coconut milk-based dishes but this dish tasted very good. The coconut milk was not overpowering and served as a very good base for the lemon grass and chicken. This is probably the dish that will make me come back to this restaurant. I hope they don’t change the recipe.

 

Service = 4/5

–          The place was almost full but we still received decent service although it took some amount of effort just to call their attention sometimes.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The atmosphere felt very Filipino. The ornaments and decorations made the customers know they were eating premium Filipino food. The problem with the restaurant was that the spaces between tables were very small.

 

Value for money = 3.5/5

–          The prices were very expensive. I understand that the quality and taste of the dishes were above average but the serving sizes were not. In addition, the space between tables needs to be increased. Improvement of the service wouldn’t hurt also.

Click here for their website.