Night Out With Blogger Friends at Vin 55 Restaurant

Thursday, December 10, 2009

After our shoot, Mike and I packed our gears and drove out to Manila, Manila meaning Manila, heart of NCR, old Manila, where roads are still one-way but it's hella scary to walk as you whip out your phone. We first passed by The Hub to say hello to our friend Ivan before heading out to Kalaw since Mike would be having another food photography session. We also invited a few of our blogger friends to taste the food he'll be shooting. So basically, it was a very relaxed and fun night for all of us.

The venue was Vin 55 Restaurant, a little restaurant located at T.M. Kalaw Avenue. To go there, from Roxas Blvd, you take a left to T.M. Kalaw going towards Manila Ocean Park. When you see Little Lamb Hot Pot, the resto is located right beside it. If you have razor-sharp eyesight like I do, you'd spot a wooden door with Vin 55 carved at the wooden sign beside it. Parking is relatively easy. Mike was able to find a parking right in front and the staff immediately came to our aid to help with his equipment.

Being the O.C. girl that I am, I sent SMS messages to Arpee and Marcelle on detailed instructions how to get there. With the holiday traffic at Makati, Chef Jonas said that Buendia would be a better route than EDSA, which I told Arpee to take as soon as he got off work.

To start off, we were given their bestselling appetizers, which as soon as they were shot, were served to us.
This came first: Crispy Adobo Belly. Marcelle and I were given a sneak peek inside the kitchen on how it was prepared: the adobo is already pre-cooked, then they slice it for you, after which they deep fry it. The dipping sauce is actually the sauce of the adobo that they simmered and cooked for a very intense flavor. The adobo was soft and melt-in-the-mouth and it went well with the sauce. By the time Arpee and Annie came, Marcelle, Mike, and I had already wolfed it down, but they were able to grab seconds. This dish was the dish Arpee immediately loved.

I swear, this is one MUST-TRY! This is a great pulutan that would go for after-dinner drinks. Or what the heck, have this is an appetizer if you don't drink.

I'm a seafood lover so what I did when this dish was served to us was squeeze the lemon wedges, mix, and fight for the shrimp and squid. Seafood Aglio Olio looked mighty appetizing plus it tastes fresh. The shrimp had the right texture I want, and look, no need to peel . Just spear with a fork and enjoy.

Crostini baked fresh from scratch everyday served with fried mozzarella. Mozarella here was fried in a very hot nonstick pan and served with marinara sauce. Best served really hot while the cheese is still soft. But when it's cooled down, just use a fork and eat the mozarella on its own. Among the dishes served for the main dish, this was an interesting favorite: Grilled Tenderloin Steak with Vanilla Butter. Yes, you read that right. Vanilla Butter. Alone, the butter tastes like warm vanilla ice cream and it adds a sweetness to the meat. And omigod the meat's cooked medium, so it's soft when sliced so I didn't have to wrestle with the knife and fork. Wine was also served, and the menu would suggest what perfect wine or drink goes with each dish. By the way, servings are quite huge so this dish is good for 2-3 people. If you want good ol' hotdog and mustard, a sosyal take would be Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Caper Sauce. I like the tartness of mustard and capers and the pasta and grilled vegetables served with this was just divine.

When the pasta was served to us (we were given 4 pastas: Pasta Aglio Olio and Shrimps, Pasta Puttanesca, Pasta Pesto, and Carbonara), we didn't know which one to start off first, as they all looked delicious. We loved everything served to us, but one interesting highlight was carbonara.

I was at first hesitant to try carbonara, since I'm very sensitive to creamy dishes, and since I've eaten a lot (and drunk a lot too, hahahah), I thought I could let this pass. But here's the thing, this carbonara - wait for it - had no cream. AT ALL! Imagine my surprise. Isn't cream one basic ingredient of carbonara? Turns out this carbonara was cooked the traditional way consisting of bacon, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and egg. See? No cream!

But when I tasted it, it tasted like the creamy carbonara. This has got to be the best-ever carbonara pasta I have tasted in all my years of existence!

Other must-tries are the thin-crust pizzas, which are good for one. The seafood pizza totally did not scrimp out on fresh seafood toppings and became a favorite.

Oh, I also mentioned that this is also a bar. Since I'm more of a cocktail girl, I was recommended to try The Perfect Mojito, which was perfect for me. When I tried it, guess what? I was able to finish it in 10 minutes flat. the mojito was smooth, sweet, and just the way I like it. I like cocktails that do not taste that much like alcohol. By the way, their beers are served below zero, so a bottle of beer was brought to the table, with frosts and all. It was my first time to try below zero beer. I'm not a beer drinker (I'm more of a wine and cocktail girl, wine being my main vice) but I actually enjoyed a below-zero beer served straight from the bottle. Cocktails are a must-try, and I highly recommend the mojito. Yes really, I do.

Ambiance of the restaurant is actually very relaxed. I was able to have a decent conversation with these guys way past 10 p.m. without us shouting. Going out to the sea breeze helps too, and it's a restaurant I would recommend to friends who want fine dining in the heart of Manila. Prices are very affordable, around 200-350 per meal. The steak costs like Php 247.00 and you could split it with a friend.

After chatting and catching up, it was time to call it a night as the guys still had work the following day. It sure was a great night - good food and good company.

(Photo Credits: Michael Yu of Mantra Photography. Food shot on location at Vin 55 Restautant)