Everyone knows about Antonio’s in Tagaytay. Much has been written about Antonio’s constant presence in the Miele guide to Asia’s best restaurants. I’ve only eaten there once a long, long time ago and to be honest I don’t remember the place making an impact. It was time to try it out again with my two indefatigable skinny eating buddies Mila and Jane.
Let me take you on a photographic journey of the best food I’ve ever eaten in the Philippines. Warning: lots of pictures, some will make you drool. I will definitely run out of superlatives in this entry so forgive me.
Antonio’s is located in Tagaytay City, approximately 1.5 hours from Manila. We left my house at 9:30 am and after some shopping and bathroom breaks we finally arrived at the 1st sign of Antonio’s just in time for lunch. After this sign we turned right and continued the drive through a narrow and winding road for about 5 minutes.
The chef and owner Antonio “Tonyboy” Escalante came out for a quick chat with us and a photo op with Jane. The exuberant chef told us that he was planting 23 full grown acacia trees where the future Breakfast at Antonio’s will be. It will be within in the compound and a few meters down from where we sat. Right now diners at Antonio’s have the option to order from either menus.
I never ever order drinks with my meal. I always take water or hot tea. But when I took a sip of Mila’s dalandan (Philippine orange) juice I immediately ordered a glass. It was so refreshing and the touch of mint gave it a flavor boost. It was a tad too sweet for me so I suggest ordering it without sugar.
dalandan juice P200/glass (refillable)
Chef Tonyboy sent us a complimentary starter of marinated scallops and watermelon. The unusual combination was just right for the warm weather. The scallops were cooked to perfection.
scallops & watermelon
The house salad was an amazing interplay of textures and flavors. From the creamy, soft blue cheese to the sweet crunchy walnuts, chewy dried fruits and bitter arugula all brought together with the raspberry vinaigrette.
farm mesclun salad, bleu d’Auvergne crumble, glazed walnuts,
dried currants, cranberries w/ raspberry vinaigrette
We ordered this wonderful 4 cheese tart with pan seared foie gras. When Mila’s house salad didn’t arrive we mumbled about the bad service. They later brought it out and explained that the 4 cheese tart replaced the house salad. We didn’t understand it at first since we couldn’t comprehend the P650 price was merely for an upgrade of the house salad. They were kind enough not to charge us for the extra house salad that would have cost P350. It was a pricey upgrade but worth it . The 4 cheese tart was beyond words. It was hot, flaky and so cheesy. I’ve had better foie gras but as a whole dish this was fantastic.
quattro formaggi tart, roquette salad, apple mustard vinaigrette
w/ pan seared foie gras P650 (upgrade price)
The soup of the day was baked tomato cappuccino which Mila and Jane loved. They said it was light and refreshing and not sour at all. I requested for another soup and they gave me a fresh mushroom cappuccino. My soup was thin but tasted creamy and very flavorful. It tasted like mushroom liqueur if there was such a thing.
baked tomato cappuccino
When ordering from Antonio’s the price of your set meal, which includes the house salad, soup of the day and dessert, depends on your main course selection.
Mila ordered the grilled beef fillet. I didn’t care if it wasn’t black angus or wagyu since it was the best steak I’ve ever tasted. Sure the rich and super duper yummy fresh mushroom mustard cream sauce was to die for. Still the star was the tender perfectly grilled steak. Lest I forget the super-duper-buttery-cholesterol busting-creamy mashed potatoes under the steak. I shiver to think about the calorie and fat content of this magnificent dish. Good thing Mila is skinny. I can’t believe she polished it off.
grilled beef fillet, gratinated w/ wild mushroom, mashed potato P1,750
Jane ordered the duck confit. I like duck but I usually eat in the forms of Peking duck or Chinese roast duck. I have never ordered duck confit so I didn’t know what to expect. I tried some skin and was blown away. My first bite of the duck skin was an OMG moment. Why haven’t i eaten this before? The skin was so crisp and totally indulgent. Even better than foie gras. How do I describe it? Imagine biting into chicharon, crispy pata skin and foie gras at the same time. Peking duck skin doesn’t have anything on Escalante’s creation. Jane said the duck meat was very juicy and flavorful. We all munched on the shoestring potatoes but avoided the pigeon peas which we initially thought were Japanese red beans.
duck leg confit, orange – grand marnier beurre blanc
w/ shoe string potato, pigeon peas P1,400
I ordered the healthier roasted rack of lamb. The lamb was once again perfectly cooked. Do they ever overcook anything here? The lamb was very fragrant from the liberal dose of fresh herbs. The taste penetrated all the way to the bone. It was the best lamb chops I’ve ever eaten in the Philippines.
The lamb came with a choice of a side dish. There were several rice and potato dishes to choose from and I couldn’t decide so I asked the advice of the manager. She recommended the pumpkin sage risoni (rice shaped pasta) which I didn’t even consider. I took her advice and didn’t regret it. It was very good.
herbed roasted rack of lamb w/ cardamom beurre blanc
& pumpkin sage risoni P1,650
Desserts were not their strong points. You may think we were just too full to appreciate dessert. It’s true we were about to burst but we’re never that full to appreciate good dessert.
The panna cotta was just ok despite the infusion of vanilla bean. It wasn’t the best I’ve had.
The flavor of the fancy chocolate used for the chocolate ice cream didn’t come through. It tasted quite mild to me. I just took a bite from all 3 desserts and let my 2 skinny friends finish it.
Felchlin maracaibo chocolate terrine w/ double cream
& roasted pistachios
The average bill came to P2,200 per head or US$47. Getting a complete fabulous meal like this in Hong Kong or the USA would cost a lot, lot more. I wouldn’t complain about this price since the food exceeded all my expectations. I’ve eaten in a few of the restaurants in the Miele top 20 restaurants and I can say that Antonio’s deserves it’s spot on the list even more than some of the other restaurants.
menu with updated price as of March 2011 click here
my second visit to Antonio’s
Tagaytay City, Cavite
Telephone: (046) 413 0975 or (046) 413 1054
Celphone: (0917) 899 2866