Part of my recent stay at The Manila Marriott included a three-course dinner for two at its in-house restaurant CRU Steakhouse. Full disclosure: I’m really not that crazy about steak. OKAY RELAX DON’T GO SIT DOWN. I enjoy my meat and sure, a well-cooked steak could very well be the highest calling of a hunk of beef and I know many people consider it to be the ultimate treat but I just don’t feel that strongly about it. I reserve that kind of affection for pizza. But let’s not digress.
Having said that, I was still very much looking forward to this meal. CRU is an award-winning restaurant after all, one that’s even been named the best by Manila’s Best Kept Secrets and The Philippine Tatler in past years. And while I was so happy to be sharing this meal with my Mom, I made a mental note and filed it under Hot Date. Because look at this place. Dim lighting, dark wood, lush fabrics, and fire – this place is very sexy. But the pictures I took, not so sexy. I had some trouble with my dorky point-and-shoot under the lighting conditions and I’m afraid I am not doing justice to the plates you’re about to see. Please bear in mind that they are light years more appealing in, er, plate.
My Mom and I sampled the two 3-course menus but there are 4-course menus and also a 4-course vegetarian menu. We started with house bread served with herbed butter and cream cheese. At a glance, it looks like a single loaf but this is actually three kinds of bread stuck together – parmesan, spinach, and tomato – and they were so delicious that there was already talk of take-out at this point. As in, we really shouldn’t finish this loaf right now but let’s not forget to take this home. And maybe ask for an extra loaf. Shameless!
We were finally able to set the bread aside with the arrival of our tuna tartare amuse bouche (a little gift of a bite from the chef). The play of fresh tuna in creamy dressing offset by tart balsamic piqued my tastebuds and the thin crisp that it was all nestled on provided a nice contrast in texture. A promising start!
Three-Course Set A (P3300) This Baby Spinach Salad looks dainty but the flavors of orange, blue cheese, and mustard dressing were robust and had us at attention. And I absolutely loved the parmesan crisp. A parmesan crisp makes everything better! Oh my goodness, this picture is whatever comes after atrocious and I apologize. And it’s a pity because this Homemade Mango Sorbet was so fresh and just true to the joy that is a perfectly ripe mango. Curiously, this isn’t part of the three-course menus (I checked while putting this entry together) so I’m not sure if this was an extra treat or an unwritten standard for all. In any case, it was a really enjoyable and beautiful palate cleanser. The main event – the Grilled Certified Angus Beef USDA Prime Rib Eye is 250 grams of your carnivorous wet dream. I asked ours to be cooked medium (OH HUSH) and check it: Emergherd. Even after my little anti-steak manifesto earlier, I have to say that this made me understand for a short while how steak can be someone’s happy thought. The flame-grill char, perfect seasoning, super tender and juicy meat in black peppercorn sauce were all memorable. Also excellent was the little mound of cornbread mash with blue cheese. I had to stare at the White Chocolate Cheesecake a little bit before diving in because I thought this plate was so pretty. The cheesecake is delicate and soft but velvety and rich, served with mango ice cream.
Three-Course Set B (P2600) I love love loooove crab cakes! The CRU Crab Cake was chock-full of crab meat and served with celeriac apple slaw and remoulade. I thought it was a little too rich overall but like I said I love love loooove crab cakes and didn’t mind it all that much. I think the grill marks on this Grilled Norwegian Salmon Fillet are the most perfects ones I’ve ever seen. It’s like the chef has OCD or something. The salmon was cooked well but just a touch dry around the edges, nothing some hollandaise couldn’t fix. And the sides! Our mains came with yummy sides by the way! The steak came with potato and onion gratin + grilled portobello mushroom and the salmon came with whipped potato + organic warm tomato salad. I was gonna pick a favorite but I typed a different one and deleted it three times so I’m just gonna say each side was su-perb. If you like your dessert a little tart and your apple crisp with some bite, then I think you’ll love this Caramelized Apple Crisp. The sturdier-than-what-I-expected apples were a pleasant surprise for me. The homemade gianduja (think Nutella) chocolate gelato was also interesting and yummy!
If you’re of the opinion that hotel restaurants are overpriced with subpar food, CRU Steakhouse will be cru-cru-CRUcial in turning things around. (Sorry. Please don’t CRUcify me. Bleeeeh.) Call (02) 988 9999 ext. 8109 or click here and make a reservation.