Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#everydayextraordinary at 26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

The 26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is really quite something special. And to think, I used to just pass by the place on the way to Wildflour, Tea Lounge, or Kuppa, blissfully unaware of the delicious, conveniently costed dishes that lay within.

I was invited to a food tasting at 26th St. Bistro by the good folks of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, to which I happily agreed. A friend of mine had been raving about the food at this place, but all that came to mind when I thought of food at CBTL were the dreary salmon breakfast sets I'd have while passing time between classes when I was in college with those hard apricot preserves. If you know what I'm talking about, you eat breakfast there way too much.

26th St. Bistro is the essence of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf expressed as a unique dining and restaurant concept. More than just everyday meals, they create and serve full-course cuisine that's different and delicious, made with the same quality and handcraftmanship they put into their coffees and teas.

The tagline and promise, #everydayextraordinary is all about sharing the 26th St. Bistro experience with as many lovers of food as possible. They want their customers to talk about their everyday routines and how they now have extraordinary highlights every time they visit the 26th St. Bistro for lunch or coffee, or to hang out and unwind after a hard day's work.

I have to commend how everyone - from the servers, to the VP of Marketing, to even the third party providers - was so hands on and right smack in the middle of it all during the whole event. I got to appreciate the brand and what it's now turned into a lot more, and with service like that, I'm definitely coming back.

Our dinner tasting started with a peppery Wild Mushroom Soup (P225). The flavorful soup is made with three kinds of mushrooms - button, Shiitake, and Portobello - that each lend their earthy hum to the hot starter.

Did you know that The 26th St. Bistro also serves wine? And a good selection at that! I skipped the usual iced lattes and spent most of my night nursing a glass of Alasce Pinot White & Aucerrois (Glass - P375; Bottle - P1,950) in hand. I really wanted the Champalou Vouvray (P2,250) but they only sold it by the bottle. For the reds, there's the heady Chateau Saint Jaques (Glass - P375; Bottle - P1,750). With one of the CBTL owners, Walden, being a wine connoisseur, almost all the wines can be paired with the main dishes or even dessert.

If you're a beer person, CBTL also serves Heineken (P155), Stella Artois (P155), Hoegaarden (P175), and Amstel Light (P175).

For appetizers, we were served with delicious Salmon Fishcakes & Greens (P345). The pan-fried Norwegian salmon cakes were stuffed to popping and served with a smoked paprika aioli and a side of mixed greens, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. I wish I could have had more. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes that night.

To sample the pastas, we got sample portions of 26th St. Bistro's Tiger Prawn & Shiitake Mushroom Linguine (P395) - a white sauce-based linguine pesto served with seared tiger prawns and Shiitake mushrooms. There were no puny looking prawns on any of our plates. These were big and meaty, with a piece of shaved Parmesan (none of that bottled cardboard-tasting crap) to cut through the creaminess of the pasta.

Everyone went gaga over the Hanging Tender Steak with Potato Gratin and Marsala (P475)! The pan-roasted hanging tender steak is served with a potato gratin and Marsala sauce. I didn't like the gratin too much as it was overcooked and quite dry, but I enjoyed my perfectly cooked steak immensely. Just look at how red it was! And since this was a tasting portion, the real size of the dish is three times as big as what I was served - that's a whole steak meal for a little under P500!

I was quite excited for my Chocolate Lava à la Mode (P235) since I'm such a sucker for anything covered in chocolate, but alas, it was left in the over for way too long. I was expecting to see chocolate ooze out of the center, but all I got was a big chunk of chocolate cake. I hope this was just a fluke - you need the lava to call it Chocolate Lava.

The Apple Crumble à la Mode (P235) fared infinitely better. Baked to absolute perfection, the sweet, cinnamon-y apples are hidden under a golden sugary crumble and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

When mucking around BGC, 26th St. Bistro is a place to hit up when you're looking for good bistro food that's reasonably priced. I will definitely be back for the Toblerone Pancakes with Salted Caramel, Spinach Farfalle with Pine Nuts and Blue Cheese, Herb Crusted Salmon with Lemon Risotto & Hollandaise Sauce, and their interesting Pannacotta Sampler that comes in a trio of Vanilla, Earl Grey, and Espresso. Oh, and when I do, I'll tag #everydayextraordinary so you can check it out!

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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel of The Pixel Project Manila