Thursday, September 22, 2011

Restaurant Review: RED Garlic Bistro Cafe

20 dishes and counting!

To all food lovers out there! There is a brand new food crib cooking along Katipunan Avenue that will surely satisfy any person’s food cravings, may it be pasta, grilled food, or any Asian or western treat.

This coming October 2, Chef Vince Rodriguez of Pepper Mills Caterers and partners will be opening the newest restaurant that will serve some of his most talk-of-the town dishes that a lot of well known personalities are raving about. Among his regular and frequent costumers are Kris Aquino, Dr. Vicky Belo, Judy Ann Santos, Dingdong Dantes, Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez, to name a few.

I was very fortunate to be invited by a friend, Ms. Maan Pamaran of Manila Bulletin, to join an intimate taste testing event of some of the dishes of the soon-to-open RED Garlic Restaurant. Ok, let me correct myself. I guess “some” would be an understatement, because what Chef Vince prepared for us was actually 20 plus dishes including the desserts!

I had many invitations to food tasting events in the past and I am used to the average quantity of food that restaurants usually serve and allow us to devour in one sitting. So I always make it a point to prepare all my internal organs, most specially the gastro parts, and plan my pacing, because I know very well this will be a long night of food battle ahead of me.

As the food was being prepared, the waiters served us a drink concoction mix which called Gummy Worms. This cocktail drink is a mixture of a few ounces of whisky, Banana shake, milk and grenadine syrup. This is a light beverage which I really like that it’s enough to set the condition of my stomach of the “great” things to come later. And of course, this drink is served in a cocktail glass with a small gummy worm hanging on the rim. You may eat the worm right away or save it for later, that is entirely up to you.

The first batch was a selection of appetizers. The Santiago Taco Poppers are long, green peppers wrapped and filled with chili con carne served in a jigger with a special sauce. Along with it is a bowl of Potato Wedges dipped in country mayo.

The Alaskan Salmon Roll is like maki with Japanese rice wrapped in sea-weed and fried with rock shrimp. It was served with wasabi and salsa as toppings. The Tornado Roll is made with Indian chicken tikka, sushi roll with sea weed, wasabi and cilantro. After getting just a fraction of these delectable appetizers, my friends and I were wondering what next great dish will be coming out from the kitchen in a little while.

A light salad was the best next thing to break the series of appetizers we just had. The Shrimp Pomelo Salad is entirely unique to me. It features crispy adobo flakes on top of pomelo chunks and fresh lettuce sprinkled with sweet chili sauce. I encourage everyone to try this because the sauce blends with the salad ingredients perfectly.

The next batch of dishes was the pasta and pizza selection. Served in an 8” x 12” plank is a pizza in two flavors. One side is the Philly Cheese Steak and the other half is Basilica Italian Sausage on thin crust rectangular dough. 

Soon after that, we got to taste three varieties of pasta, each of which is equally delicious on its own. The first was Alboro Pasta glazed in Prosciutto ham and bacon in olive oil based.

For the sea food lovers, Santorini Penne is one pasta you should definitely not pass up on. The base is tomato cream sprinkled with crab meat and chunks of shrimps. The serving is plenty plus the penne pasta is also very filling, so it’s best to share.

And the third is the Sardinia Pasta which has Spanish sardines in spaghetti noodles with slices of tomatoes in olive oil. For those who wanted more spiciness, this is the best.

After the parade of great tasting pasta, I’m starting to get my fill even with if I was just getting bite-sizes of each, because I know the best is yet to come.

True enough, the next batch of Chef Vince dishes are the steaks and barbeques. The first one on the list is Grilled Pork Chop with Mango Chipotle Chili and Cranberry on top. But just to make it clear, this is no ordinary pork chop because it is actually a two inch-thick slab of pork-loin. With that size, it is amazing to taste the marinade down to the bone. In between dishes, I made it a point to rinse my mouth with lemon flavored water to get rid of the after taste of each dish.

Right after that heavy intro, another meat was served and this was the Smoked Tequilla Lime Beef Barbeque Ribs which is super tender down to the bones itself.

Then there’s the awesome Tomahawk Steak which is certified authentic US Angus beef rib-eye, rubbed with special spices and marinade.

The last of this batch was finally toned down by a lighter fish meal called the Salmon Duo with basil pistachio and smoked habanero chili cream.

After the short break of livestock meat, it was resumed by Salpicao Medallion which was served on a hot granite (not iron) plate. This beef tenderloin is covered with a special sauce and wrapped in bacon. This particular dish was partnered with Thai-rice which I only took a few spoonfuls of because I wanted to save some space for the dessert, which I thought would come right after, but I was wrong.

We also got to sample the Green Chicken Curry, the last of the main courses, which is also amazingly tasteful. It can be nicely paired with the Thai Bagoong Fried Rice.

The three varieties of desserts Chef Vince made for us really gave me temporary amnesia. The Bread Pudding, which is RED Garlic’s signature dissert will make you forget your name for while. I have not tasted anything like this before.

The second one is Hush Puppies which is a round butter milk Danish pancake coupled with vanilla ice cream.

And the last is Panna Cotta which is served with fresh cube-sliced fresh assorted fruits. All in all, this dinner was literally a short, heavenly experience here on earth.

RED Garlic is located at #218 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge A, Quezon City. Chef Vince will serve his best line of dishes for those who want to a have a unique gastronomical experience. They are open from 7am to 12mn.

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