Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Buffet at Fairmont Makati

The Must-Try Buffet at Spectrum, Fairmont Hotel

by Marian Joy Hernandez
 There’s a new buffet in town and it’s definitely worth the food baby. Spectrum, located inside the luxurious Fairmont Hotel, along Raffles Drive in Makati City, offers all-day dining and an impressive all-you-can-eat buffet during breakfast, lunch and dinner. At present, a trip to the restaurant is fuss-free because of the free basement parking available.

Inside Spectrum
Located at the lobby level, Spectrum exudes a classy but comfortable vibe. From the ceiling hang lights that are encased in glass flutes, casting a warm glow all over the place. The seats are cushioned, the silverware spotless, the restaurant attendants attentive and friendly. Our host for our lunchtime visit, Marketing Communications Manager, Loni Balagtas-Bayangos, promptly offered us flavored water—a unique offering available only during lunch. 
Flavored Water
One can survey the entire buffet spread in one go. Here, stations are small, with dishes that are carefully selected and properly labeled. Quality over quantity seems to be what Executive Chef Christian Knerr was aiming for.
On one end of the spread is the Bread Station. Huge loaves of white and brown bread, French bread, dinner rolls, sunflower seed bread and a plethora of other kinds made of rye and whole wheat.
Bread Station
Next to it is the Pizza Station, where you can order a small, single-serve portion and customize it with your choice of toppings. Our solo pizza had three various toppings: Prosciutto, Pepperoni, and Shrimp and Garlic. Everything was good, the crust oven-baked to a crusty, chewy texture and the tomato sauce forming a delicate film of sweet-sourness.
Pizza Station
Among the three, the Pepperoni definitely stood out. Thickly sliced and unabashedly displaying an earthy red color, it’s like a pizza topping for macho men or beer drinkers. Drizzle chili oil all over your pizza and show it who’s boss.
Pepperoni pizza
The next stations are pretty much standard in most buffets: Pasta, Hot Dishes and the Meat Carving Station.
Customize your pasta dish, have it cooked and request for it to be served on your table. Or, you can try the Pasta of the Day, which for that day, were something rich-sounding and out of the ordinary: Beef Stroganoff and Farfalle Teriyaki.
Pasta, Hot Dishes, Meat Carvings
Some of the Hot Dishes served that day were: Broccoli Alimonde, Pork Spicy Balsamic Glazed Pork, Beef Blanquette, Braised Shitake Mushroom Tofu, and Seafood Kare-Kare.  The selection is varied, with every food group represented.
The Meat Carving Station offered Roasted Turkey, Prime Rib, Roast Beef. A medley of grilled vegetables is also available to serve as sidings to the meat. And, if you simply must eat your protein with carbs, there’s steaming baked potato to pair your roast beef with. Fancy dressing your meat up a bit? A selection of sauces like gravy, cranberry puree, and yoghurt are available.
Despite Spectrum being a smaller-than-usual buffet, I paced myself, and ate in small increments. There was still so much delectable-looking food that I had promised myself to eat!
Plate number 1
Here’s my first attack. I got, more or less, a spoonful each of the Hot Dishes. The Tandoori Chicken pieces, which had a bigger serving than most of the items on the plate were served by roving waiters. The Tandoori Station (which had lamb, prawn, beef and chicken) is next to the Pasta Station, but being served the grilled meat selection while you’re at your table is a welcome break. Suffice it to say, I got more than I intended to eat.
Tandoori, Dimsum, and Noodle Stations
I skipped the Noodle Station and Dimsum Station, and made a beeline for the Sushi Bar next to it. The wooden sushi plate you get adds a nice touch, shifting the mood from continental to Japanese. There was a pretty varied selection of sushi: salmon skin, suckling pig (lechon), tempura roll, salmon with cream cheese, peking duck roll. I think they can pretty much “roll” whatever you request.
Sushi Bar
Apart from sushi, there was fresh salmon available, too. The enticing tray of fat, red-orange slivers looked so pretty, I could not resist. The Sushi Chef asked me how many pieces I wanted, seeing the look on my face. Snapping out of my stupor, I blurted out, “One!” He smiled a knowing look and asked again, “Are you sure?” I felt defeated and replied, “Okay, plus one more.” To this day, it was the best-tasting defeat ever.
Sushi and Salmon plate, fresh salmon slices
There was more salmon at the Seafood Station, along with freshly shucked oysters in the half shell, clams, mussels, crab, and prawns. Everything is raw, so don’t make the mistake that I made, bringing a plateful to my table without having it cooked first. I thought they were steamed or cooked in vinegar. That was how good they looked.
Assorted seafood, and plate number 2
My second plate was wiped out. I tasted every kind of cheese and cold cuts in the fridge display at the Cold Cuts and Cheese Station. There were eights kinds of fine cheese; some familiar, while some are first time encounters like the green-tinged Pesto Cheese.
Cheese, cold cuts, and plate number 3--please don’t judge me; I shared.
Burgeoning food baby aside, these are the highlights of Spectrum, which are not to be missed when you visit:
Honey Station
The Honey Station is a sight to behold and a place not ideal for rowdy kids. See the wooden box sealed with glass? Inside it are live bees set right in the middle of the buffet. Really brave. And, creepy. Read: Highly enjoyable.
Honey display
Live bees
The mascarpone cheese with narra honey and pistachio bits deserves the Halleluia chorus. Sweet, salty and nutty all at once, it is a decadent creation that will surely be the stuff of dreams to come.
Mascarpone with narra honey and pistachio
I’ve never seen so many kinds of honey before!
Star Anise Scented Honey, Assorted Nuts with Honey, Fig and Apricot with Mango
Then, there’s the Mango Station, a nod to the fact that our country grows the best mangoes in the world.
Mango Station
I tried the mango crumble topped with vanilla ice cream because it was highly recommended by one of the pastry chefs.
Mango crumble ala mode
Warm and comforting, it was like eating homemade dessert. It made me feel fuzzy inside. Every dessert at this station showcased the versatility of mangoes, which I already love in the first place. So, this station is truly a must-visit for me.
I give props to Didier Derouet, Executive Pastry Chef, for such an impressive array of sweets and treats. The Dessert Station is my favorite and it’s the most satisfying selection I’ve seen. Here, you can indulge in cakes, cookies, chocolates bars, puddings, soufflés, ice cream, halo-halo, Filipino rice cakes, and all sorts of tasty creations in small glasses and trays.
Assorted desserts
For first timers, I highly recommend the Crepe Station, which created the best crepe I’ve had in years. As I talked to one of the pastry chefs, I specified the ingredients I wanted: mangoes, strawberry, pistachio nuts and chocolate ice cream. To my delight, this is what arrived at my table.
Crepe Station, and my Strawberry Mango crepe
After the crepe, I threw in the towel, and made a mental note of the things I’ll be back for.
With lesser choices than most major buffets in the metro, Spectrum can be called quaint and homey, which they use to their advantage. It remains at the top of my list because of its dedication to use only fresh ingredients, cater to diners’ requests (ask them to make you a caprese salad, and they will), and constantly surprise their guests with dishes that will make you swoon. Theirs is the kind of food that will make you crave even days (weeks, in my case!) after your visit. It’s a tremendously satisfying experience that slowly takes root bite after bite, thrilling you with new flavors and comforting you with familiar ones. Until, you’re certain that you cannot eat any more—but, only after another serving of that honeyed mascarpone.

Breakfast (P1,450):
  • 6:00am – 10:00am Monday to Friday
  • 6:00am – 11:00am Weekends and Holidays
Lunch (P1,675):
  • 11:30am – 2:30pm Daily
Dinner (P1,995):
  • 6:00pm – 10:00pm Daily
*Prices are net and inclusive of service charge and applicable taxes
Establishment Info
P500 - P999

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