Almost 3 years ago, before I left for Singapore, Antonio’s was making waves in Manila’s young F&B scene. Ever since “becoming a chef” became a hit, thanks to (I believe) cooking competition TV shows and the rise of culinary schools in Manila, restaurants have evolved. Manila suddenly became filled with high end restaurants. Suddenly there was the quest for the best and the creative. Restaurants had makeovers. Classy and modern interiors, decked to create a unifying theme to promote the personality of the menu, the owner and the chef. Suddenly, everyone loved to make reservations, be a kitchen apprentice, give critique, write a blog and dine out!
So Antonio’s was part of that hype, that steady rise. Highly published and lauded for its modern cooking, it captured the attention of the elites, celebrities, foodies, critics, food bloggers here and abroad and culinary enthusiasts like me. People suddenly didn’t mind traveling and braving the traffic all the way to Tagaytay just to catch their dinner reservations. Although only and hour and a half’s drive from where I live (without traffic of course) I never got the chance to dine and experience what I’ve read on the papers.
Now almost 3 years down the road, I saw myself heading to that familiar road where we used to go have coffee and a smoke at Starbucks… but now it’s a journey to Antonio’s, not for dinner but for breakfast.
Breakfast at Antonio’s
Antonio’s before was just along the highway, now one must turn in, going inside a local village. Street is narrow and partly cemented. Go further down, you’ll see a small sign. A huge, vine eaten white wall, tall wooden gate and a small statue of Nuestra Senyora to your left will greet you. You have reached.
Chic and elegant, artistically modern, large abstract paintings, chandeliers. Filipino Spanish house. Open spaces and wide tables encourages to eat plenty and to feel at home. My good friends who were with me on this trip are in the photography, interior and industrial design and management industry. Antonio’s charmed them one way or another. I’ve learned from Antonio, the owner himself, that they actually built, shall I say the breakfast pavilion for its sole purpose. A larger house across is for lunch and dinner which we didn’t have the chance to see because it was closed.
Now it’s breakfast. I was looking forward to some comfort food. Monch recommended me to take the Sauteed Fresh Corned Beef (PHP 400). It comes with 2 eggs (your choice of cooking of course) and a “panini”. (Hmmm… it was more of a roll) Drinks? A cup of cappuccino of course.
Here’s what the rest of my friends ordered…
Thumbs up to the Iced Tea Slush and Hot Chocolate. ER commented its the best cup of hot chocolate he ever drank.
“Tastes like Kinder!”
I hope I could say the same thing to my cappuccino. Man, it was full of fluffy froth! Half of it was froth and the rest was just espresso that’s why it easily became warm. Milk (not even warm), muscovado sugar and white sugar was served on the side. It was the fastest cappuccino I drank ever.
Sauteed Fresh Corned Beef – To some (Manila standard) 400 is quite steep and I do agree. Although I enjoyed my corned beef so much that it made me forget the price. Gosh, how to start? First of all the corned beef are not those you find in cans. Big plus. Second, it was nicely cooked and seasoned so well. I’m a big black pepper fan. Seeing and tasting fresh coarse peppercorns made me smile. It was the first time I didn’t touch the condiment caddy. Well not as if they had one on the table anyway.
Beautiful sunny-side up eggs and nicely toasted roll, made me doubly happy!
Now lets go to the hash brown. If you know me well, you’d know that I really don’t like eating hash browns. I love french fries but not hash browns. When I had a bite of my hash brown (for the sake of trying), I was shocked that I liked it. I actually fell in love with it! Okay, but I felt it was more of a potato cake really. It was moist and a bit gooey inside. I tasted the cheese. Bleu cheese? Or gruyere maybe? It’s quite strong on the palate but not overwhelming. For the first time I happily ate the hash until… GASP!!!!
Someone’s hair was mixed in my potato cake!!!! (again, if you read my Tarahiki Roulade of TWG Tea Garden Salon story, I thought at least my hash brown wasn’t the frozen processed ones you buy from the supplier or grocery.)
I came from the kitchen and I totally understand. Stuff like that happens but if I was in that kitchen I’d be mortified. Yes, it loses your appetite but move on and pray service is prompt to rectify it.
So I politely showed the waiter. I told him to get me another plate so I can get rid of my hash brown. I still wanted to finish my bread and corned beef anyway. He offered if I he can give me a fresh plate of what I ordered. I declined. I’m nearly full and I don’t want to waste food.
I firmly believe that what separates the best from the rest is the over all experience that one delivers to the customers. A high-standard establishment has a lot to uphold on public’s perception and hair on the food is not the end of the world. If the management down to the servers know how to do excellent service recovery, guests could even actually comeback and patronize the establishment.
After we ate the bill was suddenly presented to us without even asking. I found it also amusing that they didn’t even remove from our tab the dish that I ordered. I feel it’s the most standard thing to do in the book of customer service.
And so we spoke to Antonio about the incident after he asked how was our meal. He was very apologetic. Not only did he remove it from our bill, he gave us Butter Lemon Crepe and Nutella Crepe to indulge.
So good! How did he know I can be won over with desserts?
This was Breakfast at Antonio’s for you. Value for money? Looks like you’re paying more for the ambience than the food. But worth the trip? Definite yes. My friends are happy then I’m happy. Next visit I would be definitely trying their famed dinner.
(Author would like to give her thanks to ER Santos for the professional food shots for this post.)
Breakfast at Antonio’s
Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City