Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section, August 21, 2011
“I still think about how good the foie gras and lengua were at Champetre. Yum!”
That is Valerie’s very first facebook message to me after she flew back home to Atlanta.
Valerie is referring to the dinner we had at Marc Aubry’s new French bistro a few days before her month-long Manila vacation ended. Champetre is not much different from Je Suis Gourmand, Aubry’s former venture which stood where the new restaurant now coincidentally stands. It has the same relaxed and homey feel, albeit with brighter and happier colors that bring cheer to every diner.
It was a delight to see that they’ve kept my favorite appetizer in the menu – Duck Foie Gras Terrine with Toasts and Salad, the very same foie gras dish Valerie so raved about. The terrine was all smoothness and creaminess, meatiness and butyraceous-ness. As I watched Val happily spread inch thick and inch thick of the liver on the little melba toasts, I worried about her cholesterol levels and offered to lessen her chance of an early coronary failure by “forcing” myself to have a few yummy pieces. Yes, I am a hero like that.
And then there was the herby and buttery Baked Escargots Bourguignon that Tim and Marleen enjoyed between bites of fragrant and crusty garlic bread. Those little suckers tasted really good.
Lio and I had the Portobello Mushrooms with Cream and Egg “En Cocotte.” The combination of earthy, eggy and creamy was comfort to our souls. Now if only it had a few drops of truffle oil in it, then that would be the greatest comfort ever.
I loved the Gratinated French Onion Soup that Mel and Chris had. There was a lot of sweetness going on from the caramelized onions plus a lot of gooeyness from the melted mozzarella. Nothing in this world could be more heartwarming than that piping bowl of golden liquid. And Devin, he silently finished his Fish and Prawn Soup with Rouille Sauce and Croutons. Either he was feeling really anti-social that night, or the soup was that good.
Trying to show off my adventurous side, I ordered Rabbit Stewed in White Wine with Bacon and Mushrooms, the chef’s special of the day. Then I spent the rest of the night ogling at other people’s plates in jealousy. My stew was quite tasty, but the rabbit was so tough and dry I swear my jaw grew muscles grinding it. I made a mental note to forever stay faithful to my favorite Champetre dish – Butter Seared US Black Angus Onglet that is extremely flavorful, gamey and chewy in all the good ways.
I ogled at Val and Chris and the Simmered Ox Tongue they were murdering right in front of me. They reminded me of crazed hunters who had just captured their very first kill as they dipped the super tender chunks of meat in braised leeks and ravigote sauce and then chomped hungrily on them.
Then I ogled at the slab of Grilled Rosemary Marinated US Angus Rib Eye. Lio lovingly poured Bearnaise sauce over his perfectly grilled and seasoned steak. He showered it with as much affection as a new father would his firstborn child.
Except for Mel, the self-professed chicken-lover who found her Spring Chicken in Herby Tomato Mushroom Sauce too sour for her taste, everyone else was a happy camper. Devin finished his Baked Pork Cassoulet in no time. He said it was different, but it was rather good. But of course, Devin! Always remember this: Nothing cooked in duck fat can ever taste bad.
Marleen wiped out her favorite “Je Suis Gourmand” Seafood Trio of Scallops, Prawns and Sea Bass (yes, you can request for items in the old JSG menu, and Champetre will happily make them for you). I believe the skinny girl with the big appetite was also responsible for wiping out her husband Tim’s plate of Grilled US Scallops with Lyonnaise Potato and Stewed Mushrooms in Peppercorn Sauce.
Burp. And now we are ready for some dessert.
Champetre (pronounced as “shom-pay-truh”) is located at G/F Net One Center Building,
Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines. For reservations, please call 815-8801 to 02.
So what the Manila Bulletin readers do not know is that we really went to get some desserts.
Dinners at the Fort always, always end up with gelato and macarons at Bar Dolci