Diego and I love food and it’s always a big part of everything that we celebrate. For his birthday this year, I knew I wanted to do something really special but didn’t know what that was so I just kind of shoved it in the back of my mind while keeping an eye out for interesting restaurants. Enter Facebook. A couple of posts were all it took, really.
Atelier 317 is the brainchild of classically French-trained chef Stephanie Zubiri who, by the way, also happens to be gorgeous. There is no justice in this world. From what I could glean off the Internet, I knew that her restaurant served a delicious fusion of Mediterranean-French-Filipino cuisine which sounded fantastic but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where it was located. Even my friends who posted about it on Facebook were very careful to play along. I called the restaurant to make reservations and request a tasting menu of their bestsellers and it was only after everything had been confirmed through e-mail that I finally got directions and only when I asked. And even when I asked, the directions were sparse and required a bit of work on my part but maybe that’s because I’m spatially challenged. There was no signage that marked the spot. In fact, it is located in the most nondescript, painfully average townhouse I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not complaining. It was fun.
Once you walk in though, it’s quite beautiful. Sorry about the crap picture, it’s a shot I took for Instagram but isn’t this pretty?
It’s a really small space that apparently seats 16 diners tops. I love the colors and their abundance, the ornate raised dots on the drinking glasses, the colorful plates, marble top table, the paintings on the wall. Shabby chic pretty!
We sat down and what ensued was a 2-hour marathon of eye candy and flavors that nearly knocked us out on the spot. Food coma!
The very generous mezze platter consists of green pea hummus, roasted bell pepper dip and eggplant salad served with toasted pita bread slices and crudites. Fresh and clean flavors to start off your meal. I feel healthy just looking at this picture. Everything was delicious on its own (the pepper dip has a kick to it) but I slathered a little bit of everything on my pita bread. Mmmmm.
The big, bold flavors of the Moroccan spiced tomato soup shooter are contained in a little soup bowl no bigger than an espresso cup. It was nice but I’m not sure what makes it Moroccan.
Our assorted tartines were so pretty that we had to pause and admire them before digging in. From left to right, we got to try the gourmet pimiento with caramelized onions, camembert with raspberry jelly and smoked salmon with cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts. I tried to pick a favorite and deleted it 7 times. It’s a toss-up. Or is it? Why am I holding a cheddar-strawberry jam grilled cheese sandwich while typing this?
I also really liked this scorched kesong puti caprese. It’s served warm with what I think is a sweet balsamic dressing. Simple and yummy.
Inside the mini falafel pita burgers are tomato, onion and lettuce. They’re served with yogurt and a deceivingly potent hot sauce.
We moved on to our mains (yes, they were all just starters!) with one of their most popular dishes, the truffle mushroom lasagna. It’s chock-full of minced button (?) mushrooms the earthiness of which is made explosive with truffle. It made me moan.
This too apparently is very high up in their most popular list – slow cooked balsamic beef adobo. Served on a bed of red rice and with the balsamic reduction as sauce, the beef is fork tender and super flavorful.
Diego loved this Bicol express crisp chicken so much that he ate almost all the rice with it! It comes with a sauce that we initially thought was flavored with ginger and coconut but later decided it was probably lemongrass.
I requested something special for dessert since we were celebrating a birthday and look how beautiful it came out! I couldn’t be happier.
I read that Chef Stephanie likes to collaborate with other chefs/foodies when it comes to her desserts. The truffled Nutella cupcake is from Sweet Patti Cakes. They’re made by Patti Grandidge who you probably know from ETC. The ice cream is a white chocolate black truffle one served over broken pieces of walnut brittle. I think it’s walnut anyway. Diego is on the fence about truffle ice cream but I like it. I also really liked how the brittle was on the bitter side of caramelized. Same thing with the raspberry (?) sauce which tasted like it might have been reduced in red wine. It was a nice contrast with all the sweetness.
The food was fantastic, there was so much variety and the portions were very generous. If you’ve never been, I strongly suggest that you request for a tasting menu. It will probably depend on the number of courses you want but it’s very reasonable. And you might wanna do it fast – I hear they might be moving to a not-so-secret new location soon.
Diego says this was the best birthday lunch ever. 🙂