Monday, January 6, 2014

The Domaine Opens Its Doors In Silang, Cavite

I just made one of the happiest discoveries this new year, in Silang, Cavite, no less! Jericho had been planning to head out there to visit this new restaurant in the middle of nowhere that his friend had recommended he try, and asked if I was up for braving the Friday traffic jam for a late lunch. With nothing better to do that day, I said why not. One of my best decisions this year!

This is a few minutes away from Tagaytay and Nuvali, but we took the Cavite route heading over there as it was closer to where we were at. After an hour of edging through Cavite traffic and another hour of driving through Silang, we passed by Gourmet Farms and made a left down a narrow road, diligently following the arrow signs that led us to The Domaine.

The French-Mediterranean restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Robbie Ripalda. Situated a hop, skip and a curtsy away from Tagaytay and around 20 minutes from Nuvali, the structure itself looks like a modern rest house (more like something that belongs in the Swiss Alps), with ample space for parking as well as a huge garden perfect for kids to run around and fly kites in, with a strong breeze cooling us off as we entered the establishment.

For the meantime, the restaurant offers a pretty decent Prix Fixe Menu (P1,395++) that's pretty affordable, especially when you compare it to the restaurants of same caliber in the city or God forbid, it's Tagaytay counterparts. I would rather spend an afternoon here (which I did), enjoying the weather, the food, and chatting with the chef rather (ding on all counts) than heading up to the more popular, expensive joints that are both being overrun with fuddy-duddies as of late.

Domaine looks more like something a young family would appreciate, with the spacious garden for the kids or the dog, and a menu that is pretty without being overcomplicated. If you are a big group and would rather sit down to a family-style meal instead of ordering from the prix fixe menu, call the restaurant up in advance so they can put something special together for you and your fambam or tour group.

Jericho and I started our lunch with glasses of Vanilla-Calamansi (P150), a refreshing drink that hit the spot after a two-hour car ride. Instead of using a sugar syrup or honey, fresh vanilla pods are used, adding a different kind of rich sweetness and some personality to the sour drink.

The bread basket held freshly baked rolls of wheat rolls with a side of dukkah, butter, olive oil and smoked rock salt. The dukkah was a pleasant surprise as I have never seen this Arabic dip of ground up sesame seeds, nuts, and spices at any restaurant here before. The rock salt was pretty badass, too, and a little sprinkling of the stuff on a bed of melted butter went a long way.

I was surprised at how affordable the wines are at Domaine, as well! I stuck to the Chilean whites for most of my meal and tried their Castillero del Diablo Chardonnay (P177/glass, P850/bottle) to start with. This was nice and fruity, but I found it a bit too heady for the war, sunny weather. This would be perfect if it were drizzling outside, to keep you nice and warm while you enjoy the rest of your meal.


To start my three-course meal, I had the Oven-Roasted Baby Prawns in Its Own Bisque with Ginger-Vanilla Confit. This dish is pretty generous with the prawns, as there were about six or seven of them all lined up at the bottom of my plate. The first thing I could taste was the spiciness of the strands of ginger, mellowed only by the vanilla confit. This is one very confused appetizer that I couldn't get enough of! The dill also adds another layer of spiciness to the dish, and the pepper, another kind of spice, ties everything together.

Jericho got the other option, which was the Wild Mushroom Soup with Arugula that also came with roasted garlic crostinis. I could make out two different kinds of mushrooms that were protected underneath the arugula leaves, and another type of mushroom was poured in as the thick, creamy soup. I had a taste and was pleased at how peppery the dish was, lending some excitement to the mellow, earthy taste of the mushrooms. You also have the crunch of the crostini with the garlic aftertaste that makes this supposedly simple soup a lot more interesting.

I had a few glasses of Sunrise Chardonnay (P133/glass, P640/bottle) with the rest of my lunch, which was absolutely perfect for the weather that day. The chardonnay was light and citrusy, complimenting my appetizer splendidly. It's light enough to give you a slight buzz throughout the meal, but wears off by the time dessert rolls around, which is great if you still plan on driving to Tagaytay or Laguna afterwards. Oh, happy days.


There are three main courses to choose from the prix fixe menu. Jericho and I both passed on the Roasted Sole Fillet with Charred Bell Peppers and Leeks that comes with a Bouillabaisse jus. So if chicken or beef doesn't appeal to you, you can always opt for the fish!

If diamonds were Marilyn Monroe's best friend, let me tell you, steak is mine!Seeing the Seared Fillet of Spiced Beef served with a rich pepper jus, sweet potato gnocchi, and glazed garden vegetables was a no brainer. The beef was seared medium (I should've told them I like my bovine medium rare), and was tender and nicely seasoned. I didn't like the whole peppercorns in the jus too much, though, and found myself  scraping off the tiny spheres off while keeping most of the sauce on my steak.

Jericho, on the other hand, tried the Chicken Breast Stuffed with Foie Gras. Talk about fowl-ception! The chicken breast was broiled in broth to keep the meat tender without melting the fatty liver inside. The dish came with a garlic purée, French beans à la meunière and a parsely jus. As much as I love my foie gras, I found the dish to be too rich for my taste. The duck liver practically melts in your mouth like a very rich cream, and having too much of a good thing can be quite cloying even with the garlic purée there to soften the blow to the palate.


At the time of our visit, there was only one dessert option on the menu and that was the Dark Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Biscuit. I'm not going to be the first to complain, it is made out of chocolate after all! Served with a few slices of fresh mandarin oranges and desiccated coconut snow for a play on flavor and texture, I polished this off in two blinks.

Along with dessert, we were offered a cup of tea to wind down our late lunch. To my surprise and delight, Domaine doesn't carry any of the frou-frou tea brands, but instead, puts together their own! I found this ingenious and so appropriate to cap off our time there. The Herbal Teas (P150) change with the season, and our choices at the time were tarragon, cinnamon-ginger, and peppermint.

I got a cup of tarragon tea while Jericho opted for the cinnamon-ginger. Pour in your hot water and let it steep for around three minutes before taking a sip. The concept was beautiful, the presentation was simple, and the flavors were delicate. The bohemian in me loved it!

I spent the greater part of my afternoon chatting animatedly with Chef Robbie, talking about everything from the evolution of the Philippine food industry, the sustainability of organic farming in the country, where to find nice cutlery in Divisoria, and when he'd come out with his lavender-flavored ice cream. It is a French restaurant, after all.

Domaine may be the new kid in town, but unlike it's competition, it speaks to a younger generation. My generation. The food is unpretentious, fresh, and most of the time, organic, changing with each season and promises to never be boring without boring a hole in your pocket.

So if you ever plan on mucking around Tagaytay or Nuvali, pass by The Domaine with your family for a spot of lunch or with your date for a romantic dinner - the place is absolutely breathtaking at night. I will probably be back again soon with my furbaby in tow to muck around the huge garden while enjoying a few glasses of wine and that chocolate dessert. What a wonderful discovery this early in the new year!

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The Domaine
+63 998 989 9083
Patindig Araw Street, Purok 1,
Barangay Malabag, Silang, Cavite City
Open Wednesday - Sunday: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 10:30pm