1025 C. Ayala St. corner Arellano St., Malate, Manila (near De La Salle - CSB Angelo King Building)
My friend Alvin told me about this resto, where College of St. Benilde Hotel and Restaurant students take their practicum. When I googled it, I was led to Awesome Planet's site where I found not just a review of the place but a heatedexchange of comments. Some students did not understand the concept of constructive criticism.
A few weeks back, I was at DLSU-Manila and so I decided to give this controversial place a try. I took a semi-long, mega-sunny, ultra-hot walk to the place. 3 pedestrian directions, a nice glowing tan, and 8.25 gallons of sweat later, I, Mc-steaming, got there. I was never that happy for the invention of air-conditioning.
Big tables are squeezed into a cozy room and the place seemed to be packed. I was afraid that since I was dining alone, they'd ask me to move to the outdoor tables. The al fresco option had zero appeal to me. I was so glad they let me have one of the big round tables inside.
I heard that the resto theme changes every year, and this year's batch 14 was offering international cuisine, which is a fancy and quite misleading way of saying that they don't really have a theme.
The Mushroom and Asparagus Soup (P40) was delicious in a Campbellesque kind of way. But I had no issues with that. Campbell soup is comfort food for me. The asparagus flavor was too subtle though for my tastebuds to capture it, if it's there at all. I was sipping my soup leisurely because I really wanted to stay in that airconditioned oasis for a long time before I stepped out into the Sahara again. But the server (a student doing practicum) seemed to be in a rush to serve the food and she served the entree even before I was halfway through my soup. That was a bummer because that meant my main dish was cooling down before I was ready to eat it.
The Roast Beef in Mushroom Sauce at P95 was well-priced. And the price was the only thing going for it. Because it was tough and chewy, and I couldn't believe that was sirloin. Sure, the price was on the low side, but I've tried good, tender local sirloin before.
The other sour note to my Solomon dining experience was the kitchen noise. The kitchen was partially open, and over the usual cooking and chopping noises, the students were also very noisy carousing and joking around. Not pleasant.
The only saving grace is the Tiramisu (P65). Though this was not the best I've had and I had to follow up before it was served, I found it was pretty good.
I understand that this is ran by chefs in training so maybe we have to give them a little latitude. But I'll wait for batch 15 before I come back.
Summary: Long hot walk, cozy place, a menu with no personality, amateurish service, low prices, tough meat, and a dessert to save the day.