I don’t even remember the last time I ate at Mandarin Oriental’s The Tivoli. It must have been decades ago. It took a few pictures of Michelin-Starred Richard Toix’ offerings on Instagram to make me go back.
The Tivoli is popular with businessmen in Makati where they have their power lunches. Since I don’t work in Makati I had little reason to visit the acclaimed European restaurant. A typical business lunch set comes with the oysters, sushi, cheese and salad at the table pictured below.
To be honest I didn’t really know who Chef Richard Toix was but an opportunity to have a meal cooked by a Michelin-starred chef who came all the way from Paris to Manila for just a weekend was something I couldn’t miss. I didn’t have to leave the country and spend for airfare and hotel just to eat a special meal.
Chef Richard Toix is the chef and owner of Passions Et Gourmanidses Restaurant in Poitiers France.
When the plate of warm bread arrived I quickly zoomed in on the thin, crisp lavash which I ate with the savory liver mousse. I quickly forgot it and all other bread when I tried the cheese stick.
I loved the very cheesy bread stick so much that I asked for more. They gave us more and I tried my best to stop eating it since I knew there was a lot of food yet to come. I was already thinking of visiting the Mandarin Deli after lunch to check if they sold these there.
Chaud froid is a jellied sauce in this case made with a very, very mild almost flavorless cheese studded with pretty micro veggies, flowers and sea snails. It looked prettier than it tasted.
The next course of crisp potato shell filled a soft potato mixture scented with truffles and filled with a generous amount of fresh morels, an expensive kind of mushroom, was more to my liking. The flavors and textures of this simple dish was quite impressive.
The next course simply called Mushroom was introduced as a palate cleanser by our very informative waiter. I expected a sorbet or something cold and sweet as most palate cleansers in a multi-course meal were. Instead a small mound of duxelles (finely chopped sautéed mushrooms) topped with bacon ice cream, sliced raw button mushroom and finished with grated Valrhona white chocolate was served.
I found it strange as a palate cleanser since it was strong and very savory in flavor and it didn’t do anything to neutralize my palate for the next course. If it were just another course then it I would say it wasn’t bad at all. The mushrooms definitely overpowered the bacon ice cream.
I asked our waiter to describe each dish to me since I was sure I will forget was I ate by the time I blogged about it. Our very capable waiter was Arnel who was also the restaurant’s assistant manager and he surprised me by printing out cards for me with the description of each course. Fantastic service!!
Rochelle had the chestnut soup which was part of the degustation menu.
Since I don’t like chestnut they gave me a cold potato and leek soup with oysters and potato cubes in the middle. I liked my soup better than Rochelle’s.
We each chose a different entrée so we could try both. Rochelle found the fish very underwhelming and we both enjoyed the crabmeat avocado cannelloni much more. The cannelloni was made from fresh avocado jelly sheet. So creative!
I had the slow cooked lamb loin (60 degrees Celsius) coated with a seaweed crust made with Parmesan cheese, nori, butter, bread crumbs, salt & pepper and I loved it. The lamb was so tender and the taste of the seaweed on lamb was unusual and the flavor really popped out. I just wish the serving size was three times larger. We were so ‘bitin‘. On the top right was a dollop of really bitter lemon paté that Arnel advised me to use sparingly.
Before dessert was served Chef Richard came out for a photo opportunity with us.
Chef Richard surprised us with a pre-dessert of lemon curd, lime and basil sorbet topped unusually with cauliflower crumble. I super loved everything except the cauliflower.
The very pretty dessert was called a Black Forest Cake but it sure didn’t look like anything like what I expected. A Valrhona chocolate dome filled with a layer of vanilla and chocolate mousse with a scoop of cherry ginger sorbet and cherry coulis.
Too bad it looked prettier than it tasted. The chocolate mousse was too mild and barely tasted chocolate. We would have enjoyed it more if a dark and intense chocolate mousse was used. We left more than half untouched. I did eat the sorbet though.
Thank you again to Arnel for suggesting the boring sounding Dulcey Chocolate Cake. It turned out to be the yummier dessert. This was part of the Business Lunch menu.
The ‘cake’ was actually a Valrhona chocolate shell filled with chocolate caramel créme with strawberry jelly topped with avocado ice cream, caramelized hazelnut and pomelo confit. The chocolate caramel créme even though it was still milk chocolate had a much better flavor which I ate with gusto.
I think they forgot to serve us the petit fours but we didn’t mind since we were both so full. Overall the meal was just satisfactory. There were a few components that we liked more than others but nothing really amazed us specially for the price of P3,400 per head.
I have to commend Arnel and his staff for the excellent service. From the start I noticed that they were well trained with serving drinks and food from one side and getting plates from another side. In most restaurants waiters would simply stay in the middle and try to serve from both sides. They were all very knowledgable about the food and offered their opinions on what they liked better instead of the usual infuriating answer of, “ma’am it’s all good.” Thank you Arnel and company. You made our meal more enjoyable.
The Tivoli (closed)
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Makati Avenue, Makati City 1226, Metro Manila, Philippines
telephone: +63 (2) 750 8888 ex. 2431
11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri)
6:30 – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat)