I celebrated my birthday by treating my college friends at Green Pastures at Shangri-La Mall’s east wing. Even though the restaurant just opened I couldn’t wait to try Chef Robby Goco’s new baby.
It seems the current trend in new restaurants in Manila are the words farm-to-table, back-to-basic, organic and other words that are supposed to evoke a feeling that you will be eating fresh produce sourced locally and healthier fare. Personally I don’t really care about these trendy phrases which have been bandied around for several years now in the US. What’s important to me is the creativity and ingenuity of the chef in coming up with new dishes through the use of fresh ingredients to create new flavors and textures.
Before you continue reading my review let me tell you now Chef Robby surpassed all my expectations and despite a couple of botches it was a very happy birthday lunch for me and my friends.
I wonder if we ate any of these?
More than half of the restaurant was occupied by the kitchen, juice and salad bar. Most of the seating was outside.
We didn’t have the salad bar but here are the options.
I arrived at 11:30 am that’s why the dining area was empty. By 12:00 there weren’t any empty tables left. All the restaurants around Green Pastures barely had any diners. Be sure to make a reservation if you will eat there.
This was our very, very nice waiter.
I never ever order drinks when I eat out because I prefer to eat my calories and save all the space in my tummy for food. But I ordered the kombucha because I’ve been reading a lot about it and I wanted to try it. Kombucha is fermented tea with live bacteria. Sounds gross right but it’s a big thing in health stores in the US. Its supposed to have a lot of benefits from detox to an aid in digestion. I figured it should help me with my meal.
My friends tried it and they all hated it. I didn’t find it offensive at all. Think Yakult in tea. It was sweet and had a slightly funky taste and smell. Rizette liked her melon tasting green tea.
I didn’t get to try the Greek salad with romaine, lemon shrimp, feta cheese, chickpeas, grapes and cucumber yogurt dressing. I was too busy eating the other appetizers. Tes loved the salad and ate most of it. She had to ask for extra dressing which she said was very garlicky. I liked that the salad was in a big bowl and it had lots of lettuce. Some restaurants give you a plate with a just a few lettuce leaves and more add ins and dressing.
You know those boiled eggs on ramen so popular in Manila? Those are nothing compared to this free range duck egg cooked for 5 minutes for a runny yolk. I’ve never eaten duck egg cooked like this and let me tell you, it was so rich and creamy that I could feel my cholesterol level jump for joy. The richness of the egg was cut by the fiddlehead fern (pako) salad with vinaigrette. The egg was supposed to be wrapped in homemade longganisa but we couldn’t taste it. It tasted like panko breadcrumbs instead. We didn’t really miss the longganisa. Four of us shared this lone egg and it was just right.
My first favorite dish was the skin-on fries cooked in duck fat and topped with duck skin chicharon (crackling) and shredded duck confit. This has to be the BEST FRIES I’ve ever eaten in my life. That’s no exaggeration. What made the fries so good aside from the fact that they were perfectly fried were the bits and pieces of crunchy duck skin and super delicious duck meat. A good spray of vinegar cut the richness and even made it better. I literally ate half of these fries down to last bit of duck on the bottom of the plate.
Forget truffle fries, cheese fries these duck fries are the bomb. As written on the menu WTD! If you’re not IN on current lingo that means What the Duck! (ok I confess I Googled it).
I don’t usually like soft cheeses like mozzarella since it’s bland. The Buffalo milk cheese which was prepared fresh daily, was served with a small pile of salt but it didn’t need it. The soft and creamy cheese had good flavor and was a delight to eat.
The beauty of this appetizer were the dry roasted organic mushrooms which was earthy against the creamy house-made ricotta. Runny quail eggs topped the whole glorious delicious mess. If you sauté fresh mushrooms they release a lot of liquid and putting that on toast would have made it soggy. That’s why I was so impressed with the dry roasted mushrooms. The large toast was cut into 6 bite sized pieces.
The pappardelle pasta with braised suckling pig (lechon) and arugula was highly recommended to me that’s why I ordered it. We all took a small bite and left it untouched. It wasn’t bad but we just liked the other dishes more. My friend Tes took it home and I heard her nephews devoured it in a flash. I’m sure lechon fans will like this.
You can see from the picture below the food came out very fast and almost one after the other. We hadn’t even made a dent on the appetizers and salad when the pastas and entrees started arriving. I applaud the efficiency of the kitchen and wait staff but please slow down and let us enjoy the fantastic food. I was overwhelmed taking pictures as fast as I can while hearing my demanding friends ask, “Are you done? Can we eat it now?” It just proves all my friends whether from HS or college are all impatient!
These 3 girls came from the same high school and they adopted me in college. Each one of us had our own favorite dish at Green Pastures. All the comments and check marks are my own opinions.
Rizette was the most disciplined and she was cutting down on meat that’s why she ordered the fish. We initially wanted the cioppino but the waiter said it was ready yet. Too bad since this fish was way too greasy and I had to return it. The wait staff were very well trained. They immediately took the fish back and
didn’t charge us. Too bad since I wanted to spray the fish and fries with more vinegar.
My three friends don’t eat uni (sea urchin) but I urged them to try the spaghetti. They didn’t like it and that was good for me since I LOVE uni. I usually eat uni by itself preferring to enjoy the flavor and texture on it’s own. There wasn’t much uni on the spaghetti but I could still savor the briny flavor which was heightened by the simple lemon sauce and lemon zest. I was already full from all the appetizers but I still forced myself to finish the entire plate of spaghetti just because I loved every bite. This is now my favorite pasta dish. Such genius Chef Robby!!!
If you don’t like uni then you probably won’t like this dish but I’m telling you you’re missing out on something so heavenly.
Len Len’s favorite was the tender oxtail on creamy polenta. I was too busy eating my beloved uni spaghetti to give this due recognition.
When our nice waiter found out it was my birthday he quickly brought out with my free birthday cake.
My birthday cake was natural honeycomb topped with yogurt, tart and fab lemon curd and cashew nuts. It would have been perfect with more yogurt to balance the tart and sweet flavors of the lemon curd and honey. I’ve seen other pictures of this dessert with more yogurt.
Tes insisted on fruit for dessert so she ordered the Don Papa rum glazed grilled pineapple with ginger crème brûlée. The pineapple was yummy but the crème brûlée was disastrously, overwhelmingly sweet and I have a high tolerance for sugar. It’s like the chef no. 1 put in the right amount of sugar then forgot if he added it already so he adds more. Then chef no. 2 swears chef no. 1 forgot to add sugar so he adds more. I think a mistake just happened since my friend love it when she had this dessert. Anyway our nice waiter understood when I had to return it.
Our waiter was sooo nice he replaced the diabetic dessert with a scoop of caramel iced cream topped with house-made chocolate sauce & whipped cream and decorated with popcorn crunch. Adding the popcorn was a novel idea but it didn’t work for me. The popcorn was soggy and just didn’t go well with the ice cream. May I suggest crumbled cookies or wafers instead?
As if all the food choices didn’t bowl me over Chef Robby and his partners just had to serve pour over coffee making me more impressed. You see pour over coffee is de rigueur in many similar restaurants and coffee houses in the US. Two years ago I tried several 3rd wave coffee stores in San Francisco and wished pour over coffee would come to Manila. I’m so happy that it’s finally here.
They called their coffee V60 pour over after the Hario brand ceramic V60 cone filter they use to make their single origin coffee.
It’s fantastic that they sourced organic coffee beans from around the Philippines. We ordered the Sagada which was described as sweet, nutty, well balanced with hints of chocolate and fresh tobacco. Terrific, world class coffee!!! The only improvement I can suggest is to serve warm milk instead of from-the-refrigerator-cold milk which dropped the temperature of the coffee.
I should have checked the receipt at the restaurant because I just noticed when I was writing this post that they charged us for the fish that I returned and never ate. Oh well, it’s my fault for not checking.
They change the menu frequently but I hope they keep my favorites forever. I can’t wait to go back to one of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at this year. I may just go back myself for an order of duck fries and uni pasta and of course coffee. Maybe by then they will have new desserts? A round of applause to Chef Robby and his staff.
✖ skip it
✔ not bad
✔✔ do order
✔✔✔ MUST order
✔✔✔✔ To die for
4/F East Wing, Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong City
telephone: (02) 654-3219