Date Night Diaries { Lemuria }

A couple of weeks ago, the H, my good friend M and I decided to redeem some Deal Grocer coupons at Lemuria.  So technically, this wasn’t so much of a date as it was a threesome.  Hahaha!  But I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than to be in the company of my husband, one of my closest friends, and good food!

This actually wasn’t my first time to visit Lemuria. My first experience, however, was quite a  disappointment.   So ever since,  I’ve been looking for another opportunity for Lemuria to redeem itself.  I was hoping this night would be the night :).

As I was making reservations, I made sure to specify to the waitstaff that we wanted to be seated in the main dining room.  Part of the reason my initial experience was a let down was because our party was relegated to the Lavender Function Room which, in terms of ambience, pales in comparison to the main area.

Aside from the food, one of the big draws to Lemuria is its beautifully-decorated, mediterranean style interiors.  The walls are lined with brick, the ceilings are high and made of wooden beams.  It feels warm and cozy inside, and it makes one feel as if they’re in some European villa–definitely not in Metro Manila. Hahaha!  It’s a perfect date place, actually, the candle-lit tables setting the mood, and lending an air of mystery and romance.

So I’m really glad that this time around, I finally got to sit in the main dining area. It was quite small, but every bit as pretty as the pictures I’ve seen on the net :). Sa ambience pa lang, worth it na.  Hahaha!  Or at least it was worth the traffic and the trek to New Manila on a rainy Saturday night :p.

On to the food…

Our coupons were for a 6-course degustation dinner.  Knowing that we were in for a Filipino fare feast, we came with hefty appetites and our sense of adventure. Most of the menu items were specialties of the chef–his creative take on some classic Filipino dishes and ingredients.  So I was quite excited to dig in, and to discover the new tastes and flavors this meal had to offer.

First up was the amuse bouche.  We were served an open-faced lumpia with vinegar sorbet.  I really liked the flavors of this dish–the vinegar adding a nice kick to the crunchy wonton wrapper and meat and vegetable filling.  I also liked the added pakulo of serving the vinegar slightly icy, then watching it melt over the lumpia.  It’s added details like these that for me, truly make the meal an “experience”.   I took it as a good sign of the many dishes yet to come :).

This was followed by an appetizer of tinapa mousse.  I have to say, when they laid the plate in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully it was presented!  The mousse was streaked at the center of the plate with a small dollop of olive oil.  Surrounding it were purple flowers and pink peppercorns.  So pretty!  I am more used to mousse’s or spreads being put in a ramekin or being served like butter would so this was a nice change :).  And to add to that, it tasted really good–the fish taste not overpowering at all!  I also liked that this dish was quite light.  It left enough space in my tummy for the rest of the courses that were still lined up for us :).

The appetizer was followed by soup and salad.  For the soup, we had a seafood bouillabase.  For me, this was quite similar to and reminded me of sinigang, for some reason, although the broth was much thicker.  Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed with this dish–both the presentation (you’ll notice how “unexciting” it looks in the picture below) and the taste.  While it was quite flavourful, they were a bit stingy when it came to the laman.  It also tasted like something I’ve had before so there was really nothing new about this dish for me.

The salad was definitely much more enjoyable!  Let me start off by saying that I loved how happy and colorful this dish looked!  I loved the mix of greens from the pako (a kind of fern) and lato (some kindofa native seaweed), and the pop of red from the fresh tomatoes.  The purple petals  were a lovely touch, as well :).

That it was served with itlog na maalat and marinated tawilis, made it a symphony of textures and flavors in my mouth all at once!  Yes, it was really, really good!  While I honestly could have done without the tawilis (I’m not a fan of fish or slimy stuff :(), I still think that this dish was one of the best we had the entire evening! 🙂

The next course was a seafood course–bangus belly ravioli with aligue cream sauce, danggit chips and kesong puti crumbs.  Doesn’t it sound so yummy already?  And for me, anything with aligue sauce is winner!  Hahaha!

But this dish actually surprised me.  While I was already assuming that the sauce would be rich and creamy (as aligue sauces usually are), it was actually not.  It was light, although still flavorful.  The ravioli was cooked nicely, slightly chewy, with a generous portion of the bangus inside.  I was a bit sad to see just one big piece of it, though–I totally could have had extra servings!  Hahaha!  The only thing I didn’t like so much about this dish was that I felt the danggit and kesong puti were a bit too overpowering, making it a tad salty.  I think the dish could have done without it :).

At this point, we were served some salabat, pulot and calamansi sorbet to cleanse our palate.  Two words to describe the concoction?  SOUR and TART! Hahaha!  I swear, one small scoop and I could already feel the zing in the sides of my mouth!  Hahaha!  I have to say though, it did its job really well– any trace of the previous courses were eliminated from my taste buds!

The sorbet signaled we were also nearing the end of our meal.  The next dish was the poultry course, followed by the finale–the dessert!

For the poultry dish, the H and I chose the free range native chicken breast braised in red wine and served with fresh mushrooms.  M, on the other hand, had the leg confit.

Like the rest of our meal, again, this was a great dish!  The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, and very flavorful, having been braised in red wine.  It could have used more mushrooms, though–but that’s just me :).  I looooove mushrooms and could always go for extra servings.  Hahaha!

Lastly, we were served some Tsokolate Tablea and Kapeng Barako Brulee for dessert.  From the sound of it, it seemed like such an interesting combination. And actually, it was :).  Again I was surprised how nicely the two flavors mixed together and complemented each other.  It was slightly bitter, but balanced by the sweetness of the caramelized sugar on top.  Perfect!  Despite the fact that the consistency could still be improved, I thought that we ended the meal on a high note with this one :).

The verdict?

Definitely, this Lemuria experience proved to be not just a gastronomic delight, but a visual feast as well.  Our beautiful ambience was the perfect backdrop to an equally beautiful, enjoyable, and delicious meal.  Our threesome really enjoyed the evening–despite the initial traffic and rains, it actually ended up being a fun and relaxing night!  If only Lemuria was closer to my neighborhood, I’d probably visit more often :).

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