Wednesday, June 10, 2009

You Had Me at "Bone Marrow"

I’ve always wondered: What’s so great about Pepato?

The first time I ate there was several years ago- a night out with the girls, I believe. I remember sharing some appetizers with my friends and ordering for myself the tasting portion of a pasta dish. I also remember not liking the food and thinking everything was overpriced.

Fast-forward to 2009, around a month ago. Matt, having just gotten a haircut, was animatedly retelling the reflective contents of the men’s magazine he was reading at the barbershop. In between pictures of a Maserati and Christine Reyes’ scantily-clad bosoms, there was a list of- in some random person’s expert opinion- the best restaurants in Manila. Among them was Margarita Fores’ fine-dining resto, Pepato. We should try it, Matt says. I say something along the lines of “Really?”, or “You sure?”. Knowing that one of Matt’s pet peeves is being made to pay big bucks for bad food, I tell him my concerns. He refuses to believe it, convinced that the creator of Cibo’s Penne al Telefono can do no wrong, so I shrug my shoulders and agree to disagree.

We finally got a chance to have dinner there last weekend, him excited, me with a slight hint of dread. I try to convince myself that the food cannot be that bad since Pepato remains in the same spot where it opened several years ago as one of the pioneers of Greenbelt 2. A good number of its fellow old-timers have since “retired” and been replaced, some already twice over. So the fact that it remains standing despite growing competition in the surrounding area and in other developments in the metro, they’ve got to have something going for them.

The relatively-quiet dining room is famous for its décor, and although stunning, remains enveloping and cozy. We settled into a comfy nook in the ground floor, preferring to avoid the bigger group seated at the mezzanine.

Getting into the whole old-school Italian vibe (something Fores seems to be an expert at setting) of dining, we order our aperitivos of prosecco (mine) and Campari with orange juice (Matt’s). Thinking the appetizers were small, we ordered two: the Roasted Bone Marrow and the Squashflower, Mushroom and Apple Fritters. Our eyes bulge out as three generous cuts of beef bone on a plate were set in front of us, the marrow nicely charred and warm under the burnt crust. We hungrily placed heaping amounts of marrow on slices of toasted bread and topped them with black truffle paste and rock salt. The fritters, too, were very tasty- I loved the nice crunch from the crispy batter and the subtle nuance of cheese in the dipping sauce.

First course was a single serving of the Pepato Spaghettini- a simple yet scrumptious pasta preparation of spaghettini, parmesan and black pepper. It is cooked in a table-side spectacle wherein the ingredients are flambé-d in a hollowed-out wheel of Parmeggiano. The strong, aged cheese with its waxy, buttery texture is really the star here, and a half serving each is all it took to have us sighing in contentment. Since Matt was still nursing his Campari Orange, I had a glass of their house red to go with this dish and the one after.

Noticing the trend of generous servings, Matt decided we should just share the main course of Veal Scallopine that I ordered, and immediately cancelled his own order of baby goat. Good thing he did, because we were stunned at the site of three platito-sized slices of veal accompanied by grilled zucchini and baby potatoes. Again, the dish was very simply-done with just a gooseliver cream sauce which was surprisingly light.

The service was quick and efficient, not really a shocker since we were the only ones at the ground floor. But, even after when were having a few drinks at the al fresco dining area, there was always someone standing a few meters away ready to fetch us a fresh one.

Pricing, too, was quite reasonable. I’m guessing that their prices have increased since the last time I was there, but now, compared to the astronomical prices at other fine dining establishments, their prices in Pepato are really not bad.

Margarita Fores- I will never doubt you again.

Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center
Makati City
Tel. no. (632) 7572636


Noel said...

Hi, Chinkee.

I've been eating at Pepato since it opened, I think. As in any restaurant, it depends what one orders. When we're there, it's always multiple orders of (like you ordered): tempura squash flowers, bone marrow, spaghetti Pepato, plus squid ink crostoni, diwal (whenever available) and "double prime" steak alla Fiorentina di Lusso.

Now I feel like going there again....

Miguel said...

I liked Pepato ever since we had our Italian Wine lunch there with Noel some time ago...the Steak Fiorentina was very good...

and the bone marrow...ahhh the bone marrow....sinful..

Chinkee said...

Hi Noel! Yup, I'm really happy that we ordered right this time. I was very happy with our dinner there and already looking forward to the next one. But first, I must pay a visit to Gourmand for Mig's escargot and some duck... Dieting IS overrated. Hehe:-)

Chinkee said...

Hi Mig! Hmmm... Noel seems to be quite the bad influence. Hehe. I join you in ahh-ing over that bone marrow...

Anonymous said...

Hello Chinkee,

Celebrated my wedding anniv there last April with a bottle of fine wine.

Can't complain about anything there...


Chinkee said...

Hi Ariel! Based on my recent visit, I really have nothing to complain about either. Funny because yesterday I was chatting with this guy who also had a bad experience there years ago and never returned. I found myself trying to convince him to give Pepato another chance, telling him how I have avoided the place for years then realizing just recently that I've been missing out.

Thanks for dropping by my blog:-)

MrsLavendula said...

wow that bone marrow dish looks good!
me and my attraction to cholesterol! =)

Chinkee said...

Hi MrsLavendula! My gosh, its the best! You should try it:-)