Antonio's Fine Dining Thursday April 25, 2024 EDT 
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Antonio'sJune 26, 2005 Sunday

Antonio's Fine Dining

Food Benchmark
Notwithstanding that eating places are everywhere, it's not everyday I get blown-away by good food. I am always in search of it, but I have only stumbled on a few in the past year - papaitang kambing along Commonwealth, pinikpikan chicken in Banaue and Aklay's Cous-cous in Sagada. I'd been invited to eat in pricey restaurants but that didn't seem a guarantee of kick-ass food either. As a bang-for-the-buck guy, I seldom find good deals in pricey restaurants - call me a skeptic. Street food has always been my reliable old-standy when it comes to eating.

I have long heard of Antonio's - a fine-dining restaurant in Tagaytay serving gourmet food. I also heard it's expensive. I love good food but generally speaking, I don't have the money to make such a splurge. As good fortune would have it though, I got an invite to Antonio's. I was more curious than anything else if the myth will hold up.

The place is tucked discreetly into Tagaytay's interior, about 2 kilometers from the main road. It welcomes you through its big wooden gate and lush garden. There are several eating levels - an outdoor garden with a pond full of colorful Koi or a veranda overlooking the Tagaytay landscape. It certainly reminds you you're no longer in Manila. Appointments are tasteful and service attentive.

The waiter recommended Antonio's Trio - certified Black Angus terderloin medallion with béarnaise sauce, Lyonnaise potato, lamb cutlet with cardamon beurre blanc with gnocci, grilled Chillean seabass on truffle creamed mushrooms. That included farm-picked garden salad (like Sonia's Garden), tomato soup, dessert (double chocolate soufflé) and coffee. Price? A whopping P1600!

The Verdict
I started off with the grilled seabass. The grilling was done perfectly - charred grill lines cooked enough on the inside to retain its moisture. Combined with the mushroom sauce, it was synergy. I never thought fish and mushroom could blend that well. The black angus tenderloin was as tender as it gets - well cooked on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside. The lamb was tender and seasoned just right leaving enough of its gamey taste intact.

Overall, it was quite a dining experience. The myth certainly held its own. Was it worth the P1600 price tag? I thought about that. It really depends where you're coming from. A minimum wage-earner would probably say not, but a food-lover growing up on a trust fund would probably find it dirt-cheap. My take? Well, if you get a raise, go treat yourself to it.

--- TheLoneRider

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