Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Brunch-ing Manila: Masseto
I love brunch, I really do. I just realized that I actually partake of it quite often, although it’s not always about perfectly-poached eggs and bottomless pours of bubbly. Most days they are just literally the meal I consume when it’s too late for breakfast and it’s just about noon- it could be anything from a ham and cheese omelet with a slice of whole wheat toast, to “freshly-made” Nissin Cup Noodles. Yes, these are my realities- sometimes I just have to eat what is easy and what is “there” (or what can easily be prepared with a massive hangover).
So, one Friday, Matt and I decided to stay in so we can have a proper weekend brunch the next day. While browsing through the net, I discover through Masseto’s website that they actually have a brunch menu. This upscale restaurant with the beautiful interiors and accomplished chef is typically the venue of choice during special occasions of Manila’s posh crowd, so I was delighted to see that their brunch items are actually reasonably-priced. For Matt, the deal-maker was the first item on the menu- Corned Beef Benedict. “Book it,” he said. If you think I’ll say no to that, you must be crazy.
The next day, we arrive at a nice, quiet resto, just a few servers spiffying up the place, while my hubby and I were enjoying the polished but comfortable surroundings. As we waited for our good friends Sanj and Cutie to arrive, we order some refreshments and an appetizer- a Bloody Mary for me, freshly-squeezed OJ for Matt and Chanterelles with Egg en Cocotte (one of their specials) to share. When our companions arrived, they requested for the same drinks. Sanj- quite the Bloody Mary aficionado- noticed that his drink needed a little more kick, so he requested for an additional dash of Tabasco. I should have done the same, but was halfway through my own drink that I decided to just go with what I got. Thinking back, I guess I should have- I would have definitely enjoyed it more. Remind me to be more demanding when it comes to my cocktails.
The Chanterelles and Egg en Cocotte was a light but flavorful start- the aromatic, meaty mushrooms beautifully-framed with the richness of the barely-cooked egg. It is simple but mystifying, even without the suggested shavings of black truffle (which was in season, along with the chanterelles).
My dish was the Pancetta, Gruyere and Shallots Frittata with Salad Greens, which sounds like a mouthful and I was expecting it to be. It was just alright for me, since the dish left me wanting- not just because it was quite minuscule (by my standards, at least), but also because I would have wanted to bite into little chunks of pancetta and bits of shallot, and maybe get a taste of melted, stringy gruyere. The ingredients seem to have liquefied into the egg (which, at least, was nicely puffed and airy) and I was left with just a nuance.
Fortunately, Matt was very happy with the Corned Beef Benedict. He offered me a bite and I loved the combination of the soft, flaky beef with the unctuous, runny yolk. I will never exchange the traditional ham for corned beef, but this a great alternative for those who do not eat pork.
Cutie ordered a starter as her main- the Chanterelles Puff, Jamon Serrano and Mixed Greens. It was a wonderful showcase of the ingredient in season, with the chanterelles being allowed to shine.
But, the hands-down favorite- without a shadow of a doubt- was Sanj’s dish- the Poached Eggs, Bacon, Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce and Hollandaise. (Sanj requested for the bacon to be replaced with another cured meat, and Chef Tippi Tambunting- without batting an eyelash- suggested Jamon Serrano. No problemo.) One perfect bite (actually, I believe I had two)- a piece of bread, soaked in warm egg yolk, with a bit of flavorful mushroom, salty jamon, and the rich, mouth-filling flavors of the two sauces combined- is enough to render everyone speechless. This dish- and I rarely say this, if I do at all- is pure genius. I will happily walk the sizeable distance (fine, it’s probably just a kilometer) from my condo to Masseto for this dish.
True, there are quite a number of restaurants out there who offer better value for money, but Masseto has never been for the thrifty. The experience of dining on good food in the midst of beautiful things- on a gorgeous Saturday, with beloved friends- is definitely something that you should do once in a while. It’s good for your soul, someone once said. I believe it.
SB Card Bldg., Mezzanine
114 Valero St. Salcedo Village
Tel. no. (632) 810 3565