Monday, June 07, 2010

Antonio's in June

The month of June.

The start of summer in some continents. The start of winter in others. The start of school here, the end of the school year somewhere else.

Unlike other countries however, June is not the most favorable wedding month in the Philippines, partly because it's the start of the rainy season.

Ah, but June is my favorite month. June is MY month. My birth month. Yes, the wedding enthusiast is another year older. Wiser. Happier.

And to celebrate this year, hubby treated me to a lovely lunch at one of the restaurants I have always wanted to visit since it opened seven years ago.

When Antonio's first opened, news spread fast that there was a new "garden restaurant" that rivaled the not-so-secret-anymore, Sonya's Garden. It was more expensive, because it offered fine dining instead of the country chic set menu that Sonya's was known for.

But back then, booking a schedule at Antonio's was almost impossible. You had to book months in advance, especially if you wanted to dine on a weekend and they were strictly open only for lunch and dinner, nothing before that, nothing in-between.

And so, I was thankful that Antonio's eventually opened its casual breakfast haunt, aptly called Breakfast at Antonio's (BAA). It was originally located on the main road, and I fondly remember the all-white and wooden structure with a patio that had a breathtaking and calming view of the Taal lake. It exemplified the perfect breakfast place AND it was open as early as 7am, serving breakfast and light snacks (and dessert!) all day, no reservations needed!

BAA ceased operations on the main road and eventually moved in with the main restaurant while Antonio's opened a Grill at the Tagaytay Ridge.

From the past photos I've seen on the internet, Antonio's seemed to have gone through a number of renovations over the years. This was my first time to visit and I was beyond happy as our car entered Antonio's gates. I was literally arching my neck, almost at the edge of my seat, raring to finally meet this elusive charmer of a restaurant.

Antonio's is not your usual restaurant. The feeling of being there was as if a good friend simply invited you over to their house for lunch. The mood was relaxed, the staff was never gone too long to attend to your needs, the flatware and dinnerware was not too ornate for you to fear touching them lest they break.

It was a drizzly Sunday morning when we left Quezon City but by the time we were in Tagaytay, Antonio's had warm pools of sunlight. After a quick stop at the ladies room, I was assaulted by the scent of warm bread. Oh, Antonio's, you had me when your bread said "hello."

Above, the front door where friendly members of Antonio's staff usher guests into the restaurant.
Below, the receiving room.

The steps leading to the dining areas.

Below, the pretty tiles I couldn't help but photograph.

One of the outdoor dining areas.

The pond. Watching the koi made the dining experience more relaxing for me and hubby.

The blacks, whites and greens. Nice wedding motif if you asked me. :-)

The birthday girl.

Above, the insanely refreshing dalandan (Philippine orange) juice.

Hubby and I were so hungry, we weren't able to take photos of the bread, our appetizer - Prawn in parmesan and basil and the soup of the day, Chicken Barley. Yummy!

The house salad -- Fresh mesclun salad from the garden, Bleu d 'Auvergne crumble, glazed walnuts, dried currants, dried cranberries with raspberry vinaigrette.

This was my meal -- the seafood sampler -- codfish glazed with kombu sauce on peppered egg noodles, prawn thermidor and pan seared scallops on celleriac mashed truffle cream sauce (the last was my favorite among the three).

Hubby got the Beef Fillet, Gratinated with Shrimp Gumbo on Potato Rissoto.

For dessert, hubby got the panna cotta with vanilla, caramel and chocolate notes while I opted for the Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardamom Creme Anglaise. Heaven!

After lunch, hubby and I gamely toured the rest of Antonio's.

Here are some photos of the main (non-airconditioned) dining area that can fit 200 guests.

Going down to the Breakfast area.

I wasn't able to take photos of the main airconditioned dining room because I didn't want to disturb the diners who were still enjoying their meals. At the time of our visit, landscaping work was being done in the garden area.

I'm not sure when the renovations will be completed but one thing's for sure, hubby and I are going back to Antonio's soon!

Thanks for the birthday lunch, Hon!

Antonio's Restaurant, Tagaytay
Bgy. Neogan
Tagaytay City, Cavite
(0918) 899-2866

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