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Monday, February 14, 2011

FALLING IN LOVE WITH LEMURIA

Lemuria, I'm about to rock your world


       Even when we were just Boyfriend and Girlfriend, Rina and I would never go with the Valentine's Day crowd. Our mentality is, since we're a part of each other's life on a daily basis, every day is Valentine's Day (cheesy I know, so sue me). We go out to eat almost every weekend anyway, so its no big deal. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a hopeless romantic at heart - I've never failed to send flowers, chocolate or something else on Valentine's day, just to make sure she knows I'm not taking her for granted. 

     Since winning the title of "Mr. MyFoodTrip" last December, I had yet to avail of any of the cool prizes. The prize package included Spa Treatment at Blue Water Day Spa, and a session at Philippe Salon. However, the prize I was most excited about, was the Gift Certificate to the Lemuria Gourmet Restaurant.

     I had first heard of Lemuria from the myfoodtrip website - but admittedly, prior to that, I had no idea what or where it was. Leslie from myfoodtrip mentioned to me that she was anxious for me to try their food, and what I thought of it.Also, when i mentioned to my sister Raquel that a dinner package there was one of the prizes I won, she totally freaked out! She hadn't been there yet, but it was on her list of "Dream Restaurants" she planned to go to (making food-related lists is a family trait).

     We were supposed to go there for our wedding anniversary last January 6, but then since we had my whole birthday shebang, I thought it would be best to save it for a Valentine's day date. But the offer could not be availed on Valentine's day itself (or even the day before), so we went to Lemuria for lunch, one weekend early.


     I also reiterated to her that, though we go on food trips practically every week, we never really go on DATES, so I wanted to change all that - meaning I wanted this to be something we'd have to dress up for. Having done a little research weeks in advance, I knew that the price range of a lunch at Lemuria would amount to around as much as I would spend for a months worth of groceries. So I intricately planned in advanced everything I wanted to try. Thankfully, Rina gave me the go signal to order for her, trusting my judgment. 



Smiling just thinking of all the free food I'm about to eat


         We hadn't even stepped a single foot in the restaurant yet, but already we felt the magic of the place even just by the entrance gate, which had a simple little fountain by its signage. The name "Lemuria" was obviously derived from the supposedly "Lost Continent", but it effectively captured the otherworldly aura of the place.

I realized the short downhill stroll, may not feel as short when going back uphill

         Cars aren't allowed through the gate, so you have to park in the street. Though it is a little less convenient, I am so glad that they did that. Not for anything, but I would hate to see the beautiful entrance, with greenery all around that boasts of fresh air, spoiled by the sight of parked cars,spreading pollution around the area with their filthy exhaust pipes.

Only the presence of the Tagalog speaking security guard assured me
I was still in the Philippines.

     Lemuria is actually more of a guest house on a large lot of it's owners. Their house is on the lot as well, but with respect to their privacy, I didn't post the picture (Although it is a rather beautiful house) Walking down the path way to the actual restaurant is part of the whole Lemuria experience. My (growling) stomach filled with anticipation with every step I took. The outside made me feel like I was about to enter a villa in Tuscany or something to that effect.

It felt like I was at my Tita's house.

         To me, the interiors exuded effortless class. The dining area was rather small and quaint, and it gave you the feeling that you weren't dining at an expensive restaurant, but at a relative's home during the holidays. It had such a cozy vibe to it, you couldn't help but feel comfortable and at home.  

Ditching the "Pickiest Eater" mode for now and switching on the "Fanciest Eater"
        
      I really don't like going to fancy places so much, because of the stiff atmosphere, but this was a nice change of pace. The funny thing is, you could tell that I'm used to casual places like burger joints and grills, because I honestly felt like a big lummox inside Lemuria. I kept accidentally knocking something over, and kicking the table legs, which earned me quite a few glares from Rina.  I buckled down and pulled myself together - maybe it was just my hunger getting the better of me.

   First off, let me say that the service staff of Lemuria is rather exceptional. They are quick and snappy, and very attentive to their guests needs. Without even asking for something, they take the initiative to provide you what they can to make you feel comfortable. Small things, such as offering Rina a small foot stool to place her purse and her camera bag was placed by her side even before she could sit down on her chair. Not to mention, they know their dishes by heart. You ask them a little something about a dish, and they can describe it to you without batting an eyelash. (It reminded me of the my "Uncle Cheffy" debacle when I asked the waitress what the sauce was made of and she answered, "Umm.. With ingredients, sir."

STARTERS


A little small, but it was free so I couldn't complain.

          Within seconds of ordering, the waiter placed this small plate in front of me. Apparently it was Chicken Liver Pate', which was compliments of the house. Even though I don't usually eat any form of liver, I went and stuffed the entire thing into my mouth, simply because we were getting it from from a pricey restaurant such as Lemuria, where something this small could easily cost P500 bucks. The Bread was lightly toasted, while the pate itself had a nice smokey taste to it that surprisingly blended well with the arugula lettuce (Yes, I even ate the lettuce).

Home made Walnut bread baked by angels in heaven.

     I really en joyed freshly baked bread, so there was no way I could resist Lemuria's Home made Walnut bread. It looked like banana bread at first, but the texture was much drier, without depriving the bread of any moisture. Especially when spread with the butter and balsamic, Rina and I couldn't stop eating it, so we ended up asking for seconds, which the waiting staff happily obliged. 

    Unfortunately, much to my disappointment, the second batch brought to us wasn't heated at all, which made me realize that, as good as the walnut bread is, its not as enjoyable when not hot.

Umm.. waiter..? I think there's been a mistake...

     They brought this plate over to me, and I swore they made a mistake. Seriously, does this look like something I would order? I called the waiter over and said, "Umm.. out of curiousity.. what is this?" and he goes "Carpaccio, sir." I swear, I thought I read the menu wrong, and Capaccio actually meant some sort of salad. Rina brushed some of the lettuce leaves aside, revealing some thinly sliced beef drowned in roasted almond flakes at the bottom of the plate.

Oh there you go!

     I don't usually go for rare beef, but this Carpaccio (P690) was fantastic. It was obviously rare, almost to the point of being raw, but the flavor was full of smokiness, you would swear that it was a grilled piece of beef. The texture of the beef was silky smooth, and just slid down your throat after one or two bites. Rina polished off the Lettuce, almost as if it were an actual salad. She felt the vinaigrette used (not sure what it was) was a perfect companion for the beef.  

Viola! An instant sandwich! (Eat your heart out, Mcgyver)

     I ended up placing the carpaccio on the walnut bread to make a finger sandwich of my own. Topped off with the Parmesan cheese shavings and the almonds, and the butter and balsamic vinegar, I couldn't stop eating it until I ran out :( .

Now THAT'S a piece of lamb

    For Rina,  I ordered the Braised Lamb Shank with apricots and red wine sauce (P880). I noticed, if there's something that Lemuria truly excels at, it's making sure their meat is buttery soft. The Shank could easily be shredded apart with the pull of a single fork. The meat, however, could have been seasoned more. Good thing there was a small bowl of Sea Salts readily available, because after a few sprinkles, Rina found the right mix to bring the flavor out. And this was despite the rich red wine sauce. Also, I would have preferred that the bed of Polenta (?) it was prepared on, be replaced with a simple mashed potatoes. (Although Rina was right.. It would have tasted even better if served with a cup of rice on the side, but Lemuria, apparently doesn't serve rice.. Go figure)

It was in this precise moment that I realized that there is such a thing as "love at first sight"

     Even before going to Lemuria, there was no doubt on my mind that I'd be ordering the Kurobuta Pork Belly (P760). After my Mercato Centrale experience with Dulcelin's rather excellent cut of Kurobota pork, I wasn't sure if this could top that, in terms of tenderness. But the truth was, it did much more than that. The dish was so tender and sweet, it was impossible NOT to fall in love with it. 

Sweet Meat at it's finest

       With its perfect fusion of sweet and savory, and it's unbelievable softness, there's no way that the Kurobota Pork Belly not make my "Best Thing Ever" List. Everything about this dish, to me was amazing. The ease in which I would slice the meat would bring tears to my eyes. The taste of the caramelized figs and peaches truly enhanced the flavor of the pork, while the salaradise potatoes with bits of porcini mushrooms was the ideal companion to the meal. Despite it's hefty price tag, I would definitely say it is worth it, simply because you would be hard pressed to find a dish like this anywhere else.

This is ONE order, can you believe it? (Not that I'm complaining)
   
  Since Rina graciously allowed me to order the main courses, I decided to order the dessert that I knew she would have chosen on her own - The dish called "Chocolate Chocolate, Chocolate" (P250). Also, seeing that it had three different types of desserts in it, It was the best bang for the buck. I was actually disappointed at first, because it took so long. Our main courses zoomed in and out of the kitchen in impressive time, but this took a little bit longer than I imagined it would. however, As soon as they placed the plate in front of me, it all made sense. Included in the dish is a chocolate Souffle, and if not done right, and baked at an inaccurate amount of time, it would be a disaster. 

    This souffle, was far from being a disaster. As I saw Gordon Ramsay do in an episode of Master Chef when he tested a Souffle, I took my spoon and slid it through the top. My spoon went straight through to the bottom with no resistance whatsoever. When I pulled it out, the spoon was pretty much as clean as it was when I first dipped it. It was cooked absolutely perfectly. Pouring the rich cream sauce created a wonderful balance between the bitterness of the Souffle's dark chocolate. 

    The Flourless Chocolate Cake was the weakest link among the three for me. I never liked Flourless Chocolate cakes in the first place because of how bitter it gets, so I wasn't surprised at all that I didn't like it.

Not your average churros from the mall
  
    The Churros, though, was easily the best I had ever tried. Although It was doused in Cinnamon, it did have a slight spicy kick and the end of it. It was fried to be a little slightly extra crispy, but for me, it only made the dish even more enjoyable. And the chocolate dip, though again on the darker side was the ideal match for the Churros.


   Mrs. Schroeder, the owner of Lemuria went up to me to congratulate me for winning the Mr. Myfoodtrip contest, which I thought was awesome. We were in the middle of our main courses, so she didn't want to interrupt the meal, so she said she'd come back out later on. Sadly she did not, so I wasn't able to get a picture with her. But I'm glad I got a chance to tell her how excellent I found her food!


  Given the chance, I'd definitely go back to Lemuria, especially if it was on someone else's dime.. Other than that, it is very likely that my return to Lemuria will mark my winning of the Philippine lottery. 

Other Pictures:



Finally got to use my Myfoodtrip Gift Certificate!


Happy Valentines Day, Everyone!!



P.S.: A special birthday shout out to my younger brother, Ryan, who celebrates his birthday on Valentines Day! (He still gets annoyed whenever mom tells him he was supposed to be named "Valentino") Happy Birthday Bro! Love ya lots!

8 comments:

  1. Wow! Lookin' good there Mister. All dressed up. :p The food looks heavenly. Happy Valentine's to you and Rina (and the little one inside)! :)

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  2. Yeah I was wondering what I would look like if I showered hehe..

    Happy Valentines day to you too! Hope you had a great one :)

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  3. hi, i had fun reading your blogs... i also like to try different restaurants and soon i will be visiting lemuria. i would like to ask your opinion if it is more advisable to go there for lunch or dinner? my boyfriend and i are gonna celebrate his birthday there.. thanks.. :)

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  4. Thanks Kirsten!

    Personally I like eating out more for lunch.. That way if I overeat (which i usually do), i can do something during the day to burn it off.. (which I never usually do hehe)

    But truth be told, Lemuria is absolutely beautiful, so whether you go for lunch or dinner, the high quality of the food will speak for itself no matter what time of the day it is.

    Although if you're looking for a romantic setting, then dinner would be better :)

    I strongly recommend that when you make your reservations, ask for the table by the big window by the entrance :)

    Check out http://www.lemuria.com.ph/Lemuria/ in case you haven't yet!

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  5. thank you... we'll probably go there for dinner for the romantic set up.. ;> thanks for the inputs esp. the seat reservation area.. appreciate it!

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  6. You are most welcome, Kirsten!

    Hope you have a blast!

    Happy Birthday to your boyfriend :)

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  7. I've seen Lemuria in one of the popular group buying sites, but I haven't had the chance to get the deal. I'll make sure to buy one if Lemuria will be offering another groupon/promo :) This'll be a perfect spot for an anniversary celebration.. :D

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    Replies
    1. It's quite pricey, I admit but I promise you, the experience is magical :)

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