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Table Suggestions: Revisiting Sala

By franco on 5 October, 2009

Crispy Lobster Tail  with Corn Puree and Roasted pepper Salsa
The Salad of Crispy Lobster Tail

Being a food blogger has its benefits.

One of them is the continuing motivation to discover the new and undocumented culinary experiences the world has to offer. The downside? The seemingly never-ending need to discover the new and undocumented culinary experience the world has to offer. Simply put, it’s a double-edged sword.

I love my Eggs Benedict from Mamou. I crave for my double beef patty burger from Charlie’s. I adore my Peking Duck from Shang Palace. As much as I would like to keep talking about these experiences, I cannot. It would probably bore you (and me) to death.

Which brings us to topic of Sala Restaurant. Many of you who are of my age bracket will remember that Sala was a fixture of the defunct Remedios dining scene of the 90’s. At the time, Sala was an oasis of tranquil sophistication in Malate’s sea of boisterous bars and oh-so-trendy restaurants. I had dined at the old location more than a few times before their move to their current abode. But sadly, I always felt a little poorer (literally and figuratively) for the experience. I am not saying that Chef Colin Mckay’s food was not delicious or that his restaurant was not understatedly stunning. But Sala always left me wanting more. In the end, I became cool to the idea of eating at Sala ever again.

Dinner at Sala Restaurant
from top left, clockwise
Goat Cheese Crostini, Vodka with a Lime Twist,
Poached Beef Tenderloin with Celeriac Gratin, Sala’s Table Setting

Things have changed.

Now, nestled in the heart of Manila’s corporate district and with a new executive chef (Chef Carlo Miguel of retired Mezzaluna) running the kitchen, Sala has moved on to become a favorite of the corporate expense account and the ladies who lunch crowd. Sala is not a scream but a whisper. Its somewhat out-of-the-way location (away from the malls) and cool, minimalist interiors speak of the soul of this restaurant. One does not think about going to Sala. One decides to go. It is a ‘destination’ restaurant that highlights the sublime and simple elegance of dining out.

Tonight, we are treating ourselves to Sala’s Tasting Menu (P1800 without wine tasting)–a five-course meal showcasing the best of Sala’s menu. After a quick amuse bouche, a Crostini topped with Goat Cheese and Orange Salt, we are served our first two courses in quick succession, a Salad of Crispy Lobster Tail accompanied by a Corn Puree and Roasted Pepper Salsa and a Lavender Smoked Duck Breast with Shaved Foie Gras, Pear and Truffled Dressing. These starting courses are an odd yet delectable duo. While the ‘Salad’ of Crispy Lobster Tail does not comfortably fit into the definition of a salad (lacking the expected greens), the Smoked Ducked Breast seemed to be more of a salad course with the smoked duck thinly sliced over a bed of peppery arugula. But beyond their descriptions, each dish deliciously spoke to the importance of contrasting textures and well-balanced flavors. Next, we have two main courses: a fish course of Olive Oil Poached Swordfish and meat course of Red Wine Poached Angus Beef Tenderloin. Each dish is visually simplistic and yet each bite reveals new depths of tastes within each dishes.We end our meal with dessert, a Raspberry and Passion Fruit Baked Alaska. It could have been a letdown to end the meal with such cliché of a dessert. But after savoring it, there is something comforting finishing with ice cream encased in a soft, slight browned meringue balanced by the tangy sweetness of both the raspberry coulis and passion fruit sauce.

Raspberry and Passion Fruit Baked Alaska
Raspberry and Passion Fruit Baked Alaska

Expensive? Relatively. Pretentious? Maybe a little. But this bright gastronomical light in the center of Manila’s stodgy corporate center is a dining experience that can easily match any in the world and it is a meal that should not be missed.

Franco Note: I am in mourning. Gourmet Magazine is dead. Another victim of the global recession. To find out more, click here.

Sala Restaurant
Podium Level
LV Locsin Building
6752 Ayala Ave cor. Makati Ave
Makati City, Metro Manila
Telephone: (02) 750 5159
Fax: (02) 751 9424

LABELS: , , ,



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  • OCTOBER 6, 2009 7:23 AM

    wysgal said...

    Was just there last night for resto week. 3.5 courses + 2 glases of wine for only P999 (with tax and tip included already). Good deal!

  • OCTOBER 6, 2009 8:17 AM

    Chinkee said...

    Hi Franco! I also just had dinner at Sala last weekend- a birthday treat from my husband. In general the food was delicious, except for some minor issues I had with their portioning, particularly the squab.

    Anyway, it was nice meeting you and your lovely wife a few weeks back. Hope to have more dinners with the group in the future:-)

  • OCTOBER 6, 2009 3:39 PM

    Noel said...

    I eat here fairly often (and, yes, I also used to go to the old one in Manila). I actually just came home around half an hour ago from a dinner in Sala. There was a few months not long ago that I had lunch here once a week. Expense account crowd? I saw almost nothing of the type.

    I am very curious why you say it is a little pretentious.

  • OCTOBER 6, 2009 9:24 PM

    Franco said...

    Hello Wysgal,

    Still here. I thought you would surfing the waves by now. :) Anyway, love this restuarant week idea. I should really make an effort to go out this week.

    Hello Chickee,

    Squab? Too small a piece? Sadly, as delicious as it is, that bird is no chicken (in size, I mean). :(

    It was nice meeting you too. :) I'm hoping to organize something by early next year.

    Hi Noel

    Lucky you, Noel. :)

    Please don't take the pretentious comment the wrong way. I like the fact that Sala is very clear about who they are. Call it pride if you like. They truly understand what kind of restaurant they are and who their clientele is.

  • OCTOBER 7, 2009 5:25 AM

    i-Observer said...

    Thanks for the review! Will try it out next time I'm in town.

  • OCTOBER 7, 2009 4:05 PM

    Anonymous said...

    I was wondering about that comment about it being a "little pretentious" as well.

    If they are "clear about who they are" and "they truly understand what kind of restaurant they are and who their clientele is" then you just contradicted your earlier assessment?

  • OCTOBER 10, 2009 5:34 AM

    fran =) said...

    *sniffle* over Gourmet Magazine's "death" :(

    on a happier note..