Sunday, February 3, 2013

Atelier 317 Restaurant

Dine in Quaintness at Atelier 317

by Cityzen | M.C. Jose
Unless I’m really craving something, I don’t usually have a good answer to the question, “Where would you like to eat?”, which sometimes becomes a minor cause of delay. There are so many places to go to when you want to eat Japanese, Chinese and Italian; there are times when you want to eat something that is not-exactly-French or not-exactly-Indian, so everything ends up a little more complicated. Fortunately, Stephanie Zubiri’s Atelier 317 and its delicious anything-goes cuisine is here to alleviate that culinary burden.

Located at Palma corner Osias Street, Poblacion, Makati
“I’ve always loved food, “ shares Zubiri, “and everything was by chance that I started my company (Epicurius, Inc.) and I was doing catering for about three years. It was very difficult at the end of the day, it was all about numbers and logistics, and was really considering just closing my company and just continuing with food journalism. You know, it was very, very hectic.” She ended up deciding to scale down on the catering and to just turn her living room space into a café-sans-guerilla restaurant.
Inside the restaurant
“We had sixteen seats, and people had to reserve ahead of time,” she adds. “It did very well, and that's when I decided that the next step would be to open a restaurant. Why not? Before I give up on the food industry, why not take the last and final step?”
We started the tasting with a salad and a soup. The Flamed Kesong Puti Caprese Salad (P200) is comprised of torch-flamed kesong puti and salad tomatoes smoked to perfection served with olive oil, balsamic reduction and fresh basil. This is a rather unique take on the usual lettuce-based salad due to the tomatoes being the main ingredient of the dish. It does not only serve as a terrific starter, but is also a great accompaniment to the main dishes that the restaurant serves. We were also served the Foie Gras Molo Soup (P280), a rich shitake mushroom broth with foie gras molo wontons and misua noodles. “The foie gras is actually in the dumplings,” Zubiri says with a chuckle. “It’s not just one giant piece of foie gras floating on top as opposed to what other people sometimes think when I mention this dish.” To me, this dish is the perfect representative of the “mediterrasian” (thanks for the term, Chef Steph!) vibe that she has coined. Molo soup is something distinctively Asian, but foie gras—at least, based on my experience—is something that I have only tasted, so far, in Western dishes. It’s hot, a bit spicy and good for a cold night out.
Flamed Kesong Puti Caprese Salad
Foie Gras Molo Soup
The Lamb Gyoza (P280) is a blend of a traditional Japanese dish with a distinct Indian flavor. This new dish is made of deep-fried Moroccan spiced lamb dressed with harissa yogurt dipping sauce. I highly recommend this dish to those who are in the mood to have something new dancing in their bellies as it makes a terrific afternoon snack or side dish. This started out as a joint collaboration between Zubiri and Chef Him of Nomama Ramen.
Lamb Gyoza
On the other hand, the Vietnamese Pork Bahn Mi (P300), a dish of homemade pork meatballs in a baguette served with garlic spinach mayo and Asian slaw, is a reflection of the inspiration that graced Zubiri during her travels to Vietnam. It’s a delicious, tangy dish with just the right amount of spice to keep you wanting more of it. This is one sandwich that you must eat the bread with because all the delicious sauce is on the bottom half of the bun.
Vietnamese Pork Bahn Mi
The main dishes were definitely the high points of the meal for me. I’ve been hearing so much about the Balsamic Beef Adobo (P650 - individual serving; P3,500 - good for six people) that Chef Steph is so known for, so I had been more than looking forward to try it. “When I was in France, I had to cook adobo for my friends,” Zubiri recalls. “And I would cook it almost tagine style—really slow, slow cooking. And I'd use balsamic vinegar—you know, not consciously, but I just really like the flavor and how it caramelizes so it adds sweetness to the food. It's one of the dishes that I don't get sick of.”It’s not hard to imagine how and why she wouldn’t get sick of it. It’s absolutely fantastic; it’s no surprise to me that it has become one of their top bestselling dishes.
Balsamic Beef Adobo
The Truffle Mushroom Lasagna (P350) drove me off the culinary cliff, too. I’m such a big fan of truffle-based pastas (or dishes, in general) because it has that distinct taste that I am so in love with. It’s basically mushrooms, cream and truffle paste topped with mozzarella cheese and parmesan. Also, the truffle paste in the dish isn’t too strong or overwhelming (it happens, sometimes), and goes perfectly well with the rest of the ingredients. Finally, we had the Curry Rubbed Crisped Skinned Salmon Fillet (P550), a fairly new dish that Atelier 317 wants more people to hear about. This is pan-seared salmon fillet flavored with Indian spices and served with Asian slaw and minted yogurt. It’s salmon as you haven’t tasted before, so try it out the next time you drop by the restaurant.
Truffle Mushroom Lasagna
Curry Rubbed Crisped Skinned Salmon Fillet
The restaurant has plenty to boast about in terms of desserts as well. We had their bestseller, the Pumpkin and Ginger Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (P150) and the sinful ice cream that made me curse in joy, White Chocolate Black Truffle Ice Cream by Pinkerton (P200). Both are crazy, crazy good when taken on their own, but make quite the dynamic combo when taken together. Finally, we had Bundaberg Soda in Pink Grapefruit (P100) to end our amazing experience.
Pumpkin and Ginger Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
White Chocolate Black Truffle Ice Cream

 Pink Grapefruit Bundaberg Soda
Atelier 317 is a quaint little nook hidden away from the central business district of an otherwise chaotic Makati City. It is home to calming blue walls, floral paintings, and mismatched chairs and tables. The outdoor patio boasts of a completely different vibe with bold red and black chairs and some sort of topiary curtain to cleverly conceal some machinery. It’s definitely the perfect place to have a quiet meal with a few friends or if you just want to get away from it all.

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