Saturday, October 27, 2012

best chocolate soufflé ever

A couple of months ago, I bought a discount coupon for a three-course meal at Prince Albert Rotisserie at the InterContinental Manila. (The price was 1,250 pesos, knocked down from 2,500 pesos supposedly, but who knows really?) I had a specific goal in mind-- to eat a hunk of beef after my trip to India.

Oh yes, I went to India. More about that soon.

The Intercon opened in 1969 and is the oldest chain hotel in the Philippines. In the Manila of my youth, Prince Albert had always been synonymous with "fine dining". Nowadays,  it's typically called "old-fashioned".

Well, sometimes old-fashioned is good. Sometimes it's a blessed relief.

Bread basket and a hockey puck-sized portion of French butter, all for me. 4.25/5

Every major city in the world has at least one restaurant like Prince Albert. It's very, very civilized and it positively reeks of old money. Within its walls, nothing ever really changes. Not the food, not the staff. The furniture and decor, sometimes yes, but nothing too modern.

Amuse bouche: smoked salmon, prawn mousse, pesto, toast. Fork not necessary. 4/5

I seem to have developed a red wine habit. A single glass only, but it almost always doubles the cost of my meal. I never bother to note the label or vintage-- that's what the sommelier is for. I just want to drink it.

A very generous glass of a fruity merlot from France. Almost got drunk there, haha. 4.25/5

Although I liked the salad-- wonderful combination of flavors-- I couldn't help but notice that: 1) there was a bit too much salmon on the plate, 2) my first bite of salmon, I caught a whiff of "eau de refrigerator", and 3) the amuse bouche should not have been salmon.

Caesar salad with smoked salmon and garlic melba toast. A meal in itself. 3.75/5

I quite enjoyed the palate cleanser. Well, I like palate cleansers in general. I like guessing the flavors, hehe.

Mango sorbet. A nicely refreshing burst of sweet and sour. 4.25/5

There was a boo-boo with my main course. My youngish waiter neglected to ask me how I wanted my beef done. He just went ahead and served it. With a flourish. Too bad I had to rain on his parade.

Me: What is the doneness of this meat?

Him: It is medium well, madam.

Me: Actually I would have preferred medium rare. I was waiting for you to ask me, but you never did.

(He takes the plate back to the open kitchen, talks to the chef and brings it back.)

Him: It is medium rare, madam.

Fillet of beef and buttered leaf spinach with forest mushroom ragout and gratinated potatoes. 3.5/5

Of course it was not. In fact, it was super extremely completely well done. I tried to be a good girl and eat it all, but I just couldn't. After a few bites, I explained the situation to the head waiter who, abashed, immediately offered to give me the rarest slice of Prince Albert's house specialty, its raison d'être: the prime rib. All's well that ends well.

Bloody, fatty, juicy prime rib. I was ecstatic. 4.75/5

I asked for the dessert which was originally part of my meal to be placed in a take-out box, but not because I didn't want dessert...

Warm chocolate pudding with spiced poached pear and caramel Anglaise. 4/5

It was because I ordered the chocolate soufflé. The best ever! I would go to Prince Albert again in a drop of a hat for that soufflé. OK, at 450 pesos it was pricey, but it was utter perfection, a veritable work of art, worth every penny and calorie. Just thinking about it makes me drool. One soufflé can probably be shared by two or three people, but I definitely would not be happy unless I had my own.

A chocolate orgasm. Seriously. 5/5

After the beef fillet fiasco, the staff just couldn't do enough for me. They offered coffee which I declined, and handmade pralines which naturally I could not decline.

Pralines made by Prince Albert's genius pastry chef. Bravo! 4.25/5

Verdict: Since the beginning of time, Prince Albert Rotisserie has always been very dignified and elegant, but I've never felt that it was snooty or stuffy at all. This recent experience shows that it's definitely not perfect, but it was most likely the little mistakes that lent that "informalizing" touch.

And the staff really bent over backwards to make me happy. From the moment I stepped into the restaurant until I left two hours later, I was extremely comfortable, as if I were wrapped in a warm blanket. Made of cashmere, of course.

And the food? All I can say is, Prince Albert serves the best prime rib and chocolate soufflé in the country, and as long as they don't change, they'll be around forever.

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