February: that month in the year when love is in the air – a nice addition to the usual feelings of pressure and impending doom that fill the general atmosphere in law school.
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, students from Ateneo Law School scouted for the best and most romantic date places around the metro (who knows, they may have taken this as an opportunity to go on one *wink).
1. Galileo Enoteca
No. 80 Calbayog Street, cor. Malinao, Mandaluyong City
By: IC San Pedro
If you’re looking to explore cheese, wine, and Italian food with your significant other, and you haven’t tried Galileo Enoteca yet… well, you should now! Arguably one of the best Italian restaurants in Metro Manila, and with a 4.5-star rating in Zomato, Galileo Enoteca does not disappoint.
Seemingly out of place in a residential neighborhood, don’t judge it until you’ve entered. Once you open the wooden door of this restaurant, you’ll immediately sense this intimate and authentic Italian vibe. Galileo Enoteca literally means Library of Wines, and so you will see wooden walls with shelves full of wine bottles – very Instagrammable! The backdrop also features some classical paintings and if you look at them long enough, even if you don’t really understand, you’ll feel like a cultured lady or gentleman.
I’d rate their food as excellent! I recommend ordering assaggio di formaggi (assorted cheese) and zuppa di funghi (mushroom soup) to start. Their mushroom soup is probably my favorite soup right now; it’s rich and creamy, but not overwhelming. The cheese platter took me to heaven. A bite of any of their assorted cheeses dipped in honey will give you a fireworks-tasting moment a la Ratatouille!
They have an extensive list of wine selections as well to match your cheese. My dinner could have ended there and I would’ve already left delighted. Our main orders, salsiccia pasta (sausage pasta) and tutta carne pizza (all meat pizza), both bestsellers according to our waiter, were great, but not as perfect as the cheese platter or the mushroom soup in my opinion.
If I were to return, which I definitely will, I will instead try their quattro formaggi (four cheese pizza) or their pasta tartufata (truffle pasta), which are highly recommended.
2. Le Petite Soufflé,
3/F, Century City Mall, Makati
Cost for two: approx. P1100
By: Thea Uyguangco
Whether you want to take your girl or guy out on a date for Valentine’s or have a hardcore Singles Awareness Day self-date, Le Petite Soufflé is perfect for you. While it’s not too far from Rockwell, this restaurant is still a ways away from stress-inducing school.
This quaint French-Japanese restaurant serves not only mouth-watering matcha soufflés and delectable pasta choices, it also serves ambience. Yes, it serves both Japanese and French dishes, sans sushi (sadly). Not only does it serve great food, it sets the mood for a romantic evening for two or a peaceful dinner for one.
Quite on the pricier side when it comes to food but hey, Valentine’s only comes once a year, right? And we’re sure your significant other only deserves the best. Also, fret not! The restaurant also doubles as a café, so after enjoying your delicious meal with your loved one, you can whip out your highlighters, commentaries, and cases to start studying for your Friday’s classes. (Sad, right? But, it sure is a reality for us law students) But you can always opt to visit Le Petite Soufflé any day of the week, no problem! The restaurant maintains its cute, romantic, and Instagram-worthy ambience all year round! The restaurant is the ultimate date place, any day. But on the very special Valentine’s Day, Le Petite Soufflé has prepared a special menu for two, exclusively served only on February 14!
By: Dannah Galindez and Catherine Lim
ABKD is a restaurant-bar that looks quaint on the outside. It has a rustic charm, with a chalkboard menu, cute porcelain plates, and industrial-inspired interior design. We didn’t get to visit the upstairs, but according to the owner, people frequent the place for drinking. Our first appetizer, the dragon maki is a rice roll that consists of tempura, kani, with a slice of mango on top. Appearance and taste wise, it felt like a reinvention of the California maki. The flavors are best appreciated with calamansi, however the tempura inside could be a little crispier. The wagyu cubes were phenomenal. There is a tendency for restaurants to overcook this, but ABKD’s execution was spot on. The cubes were soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and perfectly seasoned with chili and parsley.
For our main course, we got the Eenie Meanie Bucatini which is a pasta that consists of smoked bacon, porcini mushrooms, a poached egg, parmesan, and bucatini. The pasta was so-so, it tasted like plain carbonara, but could use more salt and pepper. The bacon was not rendered well hence the really soft texture. There was also something weird with the consistency of the noodles —udon-like but with holes in the middle. The only good thing about this for me was the serving size, as it was good for sharing for two to three persons.
The chicken and waffles was a slight hit and slight miss. The waffles were soft and soggy, a far cry from the crispy waffles at Pancake House. However, the fried chicken hit the spot, it was perfectly seasoned and was really crispy. The meal comes with honey and whipped butter, but we wished they served gravy with the chicken to make it a phenomenal dish overall. While this place does not offer a Valentines’ day menu, we enjoyed our time here, and it would be a good date place for law school couples and yuppies who are on a budget because of the generous serving sizes.
4. LAS CASAS MANILA by Margarita Fores
134 Roosevelt Avenue, Del Monte, Quezon City
Cost for two: 1,500 for two.
By: Mars Barrameda
Smack in the middle of Roosevelt right off Quezon Ave is a sliver of Bataan. Margarita Forés, the chef behind Cibo and Lusso, brought Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar to the heart of Quezon City, serving the finest Spanish cuisine for any occasion. And truly, Chef Gaita can do no wrong.
The restaurant looks nondescript from the outside, but the inside boasts its own garden, complete with a London cab, statues of Filipino heroes, and sprawling greenery for photoshoots from prenups to dates. The interior, moreover, does not disappoint: in the style of an ancestral home, the restaurant gives a vibe of history, heritage, and culture.
And the food—it is otherworldly. With a hefty price tag, anything less than extraordinary would be an insult. But alas, the meals were well-seasoned, cooked to perfection. The paella Valenciana in itself could be the entire meal, serving at least 3 persons. We also ordered the gambas al ajillo (garlic sauteed shrimps) and the porrusalda chistorra crumble (leek and potato soup) for starters, and beef tenderloin salpicao for the mains to pair. For dessert, we went for the churros con chocolate, and the leche flan with Laguna cheese foam. The entire experience was phenomenal.
From the ambience to the flavour, from the service to the food selection, with good conversation and a love more than any food can ever counter, Las Casas Manila by Chef Margarita Forés can very well be the ideal date place, a night for the books. This Valentine’s, take your significant other to this pocket of sophistication, this world of flavour. And even as the season passes, find reason to make Valentine’s every day — just in Quezon City, at Las Casas Manila!
By: Dannah Galindez and Catherine Lim
Estee is a Spanish restaurant nestled in the heart of Poblacion, just right across Pura Vida. It’s a quiet place to have dinner, tapa, and wine with your friends before heading for a night out. The tables have printed ceramic tiles, and the look of the place was very functional and clean.
We had the caviar pie, which was generous in black lumpfish caviar. It went well with the crackers, which we couldn’t have enough of. The balance of flavors was good, and the consistency of the pie was perfect – it was a good mix between cream cheese and crumbled egg, and had nice a firmness to it. The gambas al ajilio left a lot to be desired: more sauce (as it seemed to have been dried up on the sizzling plate), more spices, and more shrimp (there were only eight small pieces). Lastly, the salpicao was good, it had a generous amount of sauce which we liked, but the meat was unfortunately overcooked and there were some pieces that were difficult to chew. All in all, this place serves decent Spanish fare, and would be a good fix if you’re craving for this cuisine. For date night though, we’d still recommend Barcino, especially if you’d want to enjoy your meal with a side of sangria to make you blush.
FYRE Rooftop Lounge is for the laid-back couples who prefer a toned-down night out. It is a roof-top bar located in the middle of P. Burgos that has a live band every night. Because of its location, expect a somewhat chilly night out and an intimate scene. If you go early around 7pm, more likely than not, you would have the place all to yourself.
FYRE is owned by Chef Kalel Zaguirre of Locavore, so expect the food to have great presentation and exquisite taste to impress your date! Order their cheese fondue (P470) and baked oysters (P390) as appetizers and their baby back ribs (P580 for half a slab, P990 for full slab) or Fyre roasted pork belly (P450 for 300g, P750 for 500g) as your main dish. Each dish is beautifully crafted and generously served for the price.
After dinner, grab a drink and listen to their live band. Try their best-selling inuman snack: the Fyre Nachos (P380). We highly recommended dipping the nachos on the cheese fondue for an extra cheesy night! Pair this with Chef Kalel’s signature cocktails (P250 – P320). Pro-tip: ask the servers to make the drink a bit strong if you want to get buzzed.
And finally, impress your date by singing a romantic song with the live band on stage. The fresh breeze, good food, and great music would really give you extra points this Valentine’s!
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