Let me share this quirk I noticed after working for a French company for more than two years now. As much as I hate to say it—the French are one of the snobbiest and rudest people you’ll ever encounter, with Eastern / Central Europeans coming a close second. I don’t know if this is just part of their culture, but a lot of articles I read about the French shines the spotlight on this particular attitude. However, they do remember you once introduced to them formally or informally – and that’s a redeeming factor.
Despite the snobbish attitude, it cannot be denied that France has one of the most exceptional cuisines in the world. The French have produced icons such as Brillat-Savarin, Alain Ducasse, and the late Joël Robuchon. Respected institutions like Le Cordon Bleu and Guide Michelin ensure that French cuisine is served following the highest standards. In addition, the land of Marianne has given birth to legendary food joints—Laduree and PAUL Boulangerie, just to name two.
Today’s triptych shows three restaurants here in the Philippines that feature their own unique and noteworthy takes on French standards.
French-Japanese fusion restaurant Le Petit Soufflé in SM Megamall is the brainchild of chefs Miko Aspiras, Kristine Lotilla, and Noel Mauricio. This is the restaurant’s second branch following its flagship location in Makati’s Century City Mall, sharing the space with Workshop Bespoke Bakery under the same group. Le Petit Soufflé prides itself in its soufflé-based dishes; diners are informed beforehand that the latter requires a 25 minute preparation time. I ordered three specialties from Le Petit Soufflé during a random trip to SM Megamall: Savory Beef Soufflé, Basque Burnt Cheesecake, and Hot Taro Latte.
No expense was spared in making the Savory Beef Soufflé, Le Petit Soufflé′s most prized dish. The fluffy scrambled egg soufflé and the curry rice mixed with kinoko mushrooms and wagyu strips are good enough reasons to try out this main course. The curry contains the right amount of spice to complementing the proteins, while carrots and potatoes add texture. I ordered a slice of the Basque Burnt Cheesecake to provide a sweet contrast. The cheesecake reminds me of a cross between crème brulee and New York cheesecake, with the burnt caramel top contrasting with the cream cheese center. It pairs off well with the Hot Taro Latte which is reminiscent of taro-flavored milk tea. Admittedly, I had to top off the latte with water to reduce the drink’s sweetness.
Le Petit Soufflé
Unit 226C-226F, SM Mega Fashion Hall
Greenhills East, Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue
Brgy. Wack Wack, Mandaluyong 1554
Crepes are thinner cousins of American pancakes or flapjacks; the northwestern French region of Brittany is widely known for this paper-thin specialty. The galette is a variation of the crepe made from non-wheat flours such as buckwheat. Yes, the same raw ingredient used for yakisoba noodles. A common difference between the galette and the crepe is that the former is usually served with savory fillings like sausages and seafood, whilst the latter is served with sweet toppings such as chocolate and fruits. Long-time joint Cafe Breton prides itself in a wide array of sweet and savory crepes, plus more. I chose three selections—Galette Bretonne, Crepe Normandie, and Liegois with a Kick—during the first time I dined at its Trinoma branch.
The Galette Bretonne contains seafood just like La Creperie’s Crevette Crepe, plump shrimps and crab meat in this case. Despite the seafood overload, the galette contains spinach to make it taste more balanced and less “sinful.” Kudos to Cafe Breton for cooking the seafood filling just right. The worst thing one can do to seafood—be it squid, shrimp, or crab—is to overcook it to the point that it becomes hard and rubbery. The Liegois with a Kick is the French version of the Starbucks frappe, with added Bailey’s or Kahlua; I chose the latter. The drink’s sweetness qualifies it as a dessert, if not for the alcohol. The Crepe Normandie serves as a fitting end to this meal. This dessert crepe contains stewed apples inside and is topped with homemade caramel ice cream and whipped cream. An additional drizzle of caramel brings the dessert crepe moniker home.
#4013, 4/F Garden Restaurants, Trinoma Mall,
North Avenue cor. Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue,
Brgy. Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City 1105
Duck & Buvette is a well-known name when it comes to French specialties, being the former Cafe Provence in Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Many people swear by the Half Duck Confit which costs short of a thousand pesos, but is good enough for two people. The buvettes (similar to Spanish tapas) are another specialty the restaurant offers, which pair very well with wine. The Earl’s Cheesecake is Duck & Buvette’s contender in the dessert department, holding its own alongside the French ice cream sandwiches. Duck & Buvette also purveys Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee, founded in 1995 and is now a major player in the field of third-wave coffee. This first-timer ordered the Confit of Pork Belly with Egg and Rice, The Earl’s Cheesecake, and Cold Brew Latte during an engagement with the joint.
The Confit of Pork Belly is accompanied by a poached egg and garlic rice, with a raspberry and balsamic vinegar reduction providing a tartness to counter the savory taste. The pork’s tender meat and crisp skin, made juicier by the en confit cooking process, have contradicting textures that work together. The tenderness soaked through the entire block of pork belly, making the meat soft enough to be cut by a fork. This is one meal I would definitely want to be my last, in the unfortunate circumstance of me facing the gallows. The Earl’s Cheesecake makes use of earl grey tea to make a delectable dessert. Earl grey tea is basically black tea flavored with bergamot orange peel, so you could easily surmise the tea and citrus blend in the cream cheese. The bergamot’s tart peel cuts the sweetness of the cheesecake base to make it less cloying. It goes perfectly with the rich and full-bodied Cold Brew Latte from Intelligentsia Coffee. The latte’s coffee flavor is more pronounced when made using a base of pure milk compared to a milk and water mixture. I requested for some syrup to offset the coffee’s strength, which the staff provided.
Duck & Buvette
#206, 2/F Main Wing, EDSA Shangri-La Plaza Mall
Shaw Boulevard cor. Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue
Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City 1555
That wraps up this triptych. Until the next post—bon appetit!