The tinkle of champagne glasses, the luxurious glow of incandescent lights, and the aroma of food as the attendants prepared them tableside. We sat there, mesmerized, still in disbelief that we had been invited to this regal culinary display. The grand dame of Makati, the InterContinental Manila, has announced that she will be closing her doors before the onset of the new year, but we could not allow her to bid farewell without a feast at Prince Albert Rotisserie. Read more…
Prince Albert Rotisserie, named after the husband of Queen Victoria, is truly a master class of its own, both in terms of service and the quality of its dishes. It comes as no surprise then that many important local and international figures—celebrities, politicians, businessmen, and even royalty and heads of state—have graced its intimate and stately dining halls.
Moments before we settled in our comfortable, private space in the restaurant, we were ushered in by the warm smiles and brisk efficiency of the wait staff. A tasting menu of mostly dishes prepared gueridon-style (read: prepared tableside) had been prepared in advance, which saved us the trouble of choosing from a wide array of dishes that sounded as appetizing. As we waited for our first course, we were offered wine and a batch of hot breads.
We had Bisque de Langouste (lobster bisque, cognac, and whipped cream) and Soupe de Champignon (forest mushroom cappuccino), which we both shared. It was a symmetry like no other, a yin and yang combination of ocean and forest, of sea and land, of water and earth. The lobster bisque tasted as a true lobster bisque should—tangy and piquant. The forest mushroom soup, creatively enough, looked like a cup of cappuccino, complete with a froth, and it evoked all the hominess and comfort.
A bottle of Moet & Chandon was popped, as we enjoyed conversations, soaked in the ambiance of the restaurant, and waited for the next course. Our veteran attendant for the night, Mr. Marlo, later arrived, a cart in tow with a large wooden mixing bowl sitting atop the cart.
Caesar Salad may sound like ordinary fare, but as Mr. Marlo expertly tossed and mixed, poured and grated, we felt that something extraordinary was coming our way. The presentation was impeccable and appetizing, and once we had our first bite, we were lost for words. The romaine lettuce was deliciously fresh and crisp, and together with the bacon bits and the croutons, it was probably the best and crunchiest Caesar salad we’ve tasted in Manila, bar none.
As Mr. Marlo rolled a cart in once again, we quickly realized it wasn’t simply a fancy dinner, with the dishes teasing and assaulting our taste buds in the most positive and intriguing ways—this was a show that demanded to be experienced by all five senses.
The Absolut Gambas that followed the salad showcased this. With his quick fingers, Mr. Marlo adeptly handled a copper pan, threw in a chunk of butter, and then laid the prawns onto the pan, bringing forth the sizzle everyone loves to hear from a gambas dish. Other restaurants would have stopped there, but at Prince Albert Rotisserie, that was just the warm-up.
He then poured the lobster bisque sauce, which made the dish unique and sophisticated. And like a magician doing a sleight of hand at the end of an extraordinary trick, he pulled out a bottle of Absolut vodka, twirled it for good measure, then poured it in—and voila, a flash of flames cooked the prawns to perfection.
It was an exquisite display, but wait—we were just three dishes in, just finishing up the appetizer. The main course was yet to come.
The Prince Albert Prime Rib is most likely the main reason why so many flock to the InterContinental Manila’s most prestigious restaurant. There was such a distinct sense of reverence for the dish that the restaurant’s seasoned maitre d’, Mr. Rod, insisted that he do the honors.
He sliced through the thick slab of beef carefully, and with bated breaths, we awaited the moment when the slices would make their way to our plates. Joining the pièce de résistance were its likewise distinguished comrades: the Yorkshire pudding, the gratin potatoes, the marinated grilled vegetables, and of course, the tasty red wine jus. As we made our way through our perfectly medium rare steaks, the feeling was nothing short of exultation. The tenderness of the meat, the texture from the vegetables, and the tanginess of the jus made each bite a delightful one to take.
At that point, we were glad to have the taste of something sweet, and the Crepe Suzette delivered spectacularly. Similar to the gambas we had earlier, the crepe’s sauce and filling were flambéed with Grand Marnier. Needless to say, there was no diminution in the suave style the dish was put together; apparently, the servers themselves never tire of the spectacle. The liquor’s orange tones flowed through distinctly in the dessert, with the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream offsetting the stronger cognac taste.
It wouldn’t be a Prince Albert experience—it would be a gross understatement to simply call it a formal dinner—if it weren’t for the hospitality and efficiency of the wait staff. Throughout our entire stay, Mr. Marlo and his other colleagues punctuated the sizzle of the pan with stories of dignitaries who have graced the restaurant. As food was prepared tableside, anecdotes about celebrities were imparted, and as wine and champagne were poured into our waiting glasses, quips about the hospitality contests they joined (and won) were shared.
These are the stories that we fondly recall now, knowing that the grand dame will be singing her swan song soon enough. The people and the dishes at Prince Albert Rotisserie will form part of our cherished memories about the legendary landmark hotel as the sun sets at No. 1 Ayala Avenue.
PRINCE ALBERT ROTISSERIE
InterContinental Manila, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 793 7000 ext. 776 or 777
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