Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hotel Review: Meranti Hotel, Quezon City

Last week, we received late notice that there was going to be a power interruption in our village. The notice from Admin said it would be from 11:30 p.m. to midnight and 4 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following day. I was willing to bear it so I decided to stay at home. At nearly 1 a.m. however, power still wasn't restored. By 2 a.m., I was already uncomfortable from the sweltering heat. It didn't help that I was suffering from severe allergic rhinitis. By 3 a.m.,we decided to pack some clothes and drive to Meranti, the nearest decent hotel from our place.

Meranti Hotel is owned by the Max's Group, the company behind Max's Restaurant, Krispy Kreme and Yellow Cab, among others.

The lobby was a fair size for a small hotel and tastefully furnished. I was a little worried about the room because I had been warned that they were small and had thin walls. The receptionist offered us a deluxe, a higher room category, because all the standards were booked for the night.

When we got to the room, we were pleasantly surprised. It was a good size at 35 sqm. with a king size bed that was very comfortable.

The decor was subdued, even stylish. Every corner was clean. Most importantly, there was no musty smell, which could have made my allergies worse.

I slept very soundly that night, until I was woken up by the phone ringing. There was no bedside phone extension so we had to get up to answer. It was the receptionist reminding us that breakfast was only until 10 a.m., which meant we had 10 minutes to go down and get served. We decided to forego breakfast.

It was a little hard to go back to sleep by then, because the heavy drapes weren't fully blackout. We stayed in bed just the same, maybe even dozed off for a few minutes.

Checkout was painless. The staff were extra helpful, processing everything while we ordered our lunch at Meranti Cafe, also located at the lobby near the check-in counter.

They also offered these graham cookies, which were so good! I wonder if they're available at Max's Corner Bakery, which makes those divine caramel bars that you can order with your Max's fried chicken. This bakeshop churns some fantastic baked goodies and is largely underrated in my belief. I am a fan of their meringues.

I was happy to discover that the Max's Group also owns Maple Restaurant in Shangri-la Plaza whose food I truly enjoy. Some items from Maple are included in the Meranti menu but not the buttermilk pancakes (boohoo). I made do with the French toast, which was also good.

Pros: One of the better hotels in Quezon City (there's not a lot)
         Helpful Staff
         Bread and baked goods        
         Good value

Cons: Rooms are not fully blackout
          Phone has no bedside extension
          Breakfast calls should be upon request
          Some noise from passing cars (we were on the 9th floor)           

Friday, April 1, 2016

Easter Break 2016 (Part II): Dean & Deluca

I’ve always liked the pizzas and pastries at Dean & Deluca so that’s where I took the pamangkins for dinner.

Dean & Deluca is a popular chain of upscale grocery stores that started in New York in the ‘70s. The lone store in Manila, however, is more a restaurant than a culinary emporium.

I was curious about these flavored sugar
The first time I visited the restaurant, I ordered its honey-glazed pork ribs and all-American grilled cheese sandwich, both of which were good, but not as memorable as its banana quinoa bread and carrot cake. I’ve also had the occasion of trying the Parma pizza, which earned my approval.

This time around, we got to try a wider selection because I knew my foodie troupe were up to the task of polishing off everything that was served on the table.

The girls, Joanna, Jenna and Julia, started with the slow-roasted pumpkin soup, which earned three thumbs up but with the qualification (by Joanna) that it’s still not as good as Cibo’s.

The crispy calamari was exactly that, and the squid was tender, not at all chewy.

This was Joaki’s choice, the herb-roasted chicken au jus. The slow roasting was evident in the tenderness of the chicken, which was deliciously seasoned. However, I found an off-putting alcohol-like taste in the barley chorizo risotto.

The skillet meatballs stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t expect to find the meatballs of my dreams at Dean & Deluca. The Angus beef ball falls apart in your mouth and it goes exceptionally well with the rich flavor of the arrabiata and peppery arugula. An exceptional bite. We loved it so much we ordered another plate.

The butifarra con salsa funghi e tratufo
Of the pastas, the butifarra con salsa funghi e tartufo was highly recommended but I’d say go for the good ol’ carbonara. Granted, it is not traditional because the noodles are slicked with cream, not egg (although there’s a poached egg on top). On the merit of taste alone, this is a winner. And, mind you, it’s hard to find good carbonara (our favorite is the one of Manila Peninsula, which we ordered by room service during a stay).

The carbonara topped with poached egg

We ordered two pizzas, my favorite Parma and one we haven't tried, Sausage duo. I am no snob when it comes to pizzas and I enjoy the occasional Shakey's thin crust and Pizza Hut pan pizza as much as the next person, but seeing a well-made crust like this, all puffy with raised blisters, buoys my spirit. 

The Parma

The Sausage Duo, Joanna's preference

We capped off our meal with Joanna’s choice, the Hokkaido cheesecake. What a heavenly pick it turned out to be. I enjoy the occasional cheesecake but I usually gravitate more towards sponge cakes and meringue-based cakes like sans rival. This though, I totally dig. It’s lighter and less sweet than the NY variety, and its texture more akin to a soufflé or chiffon cake. Pillowy, velvety, ethereal--everything a cheesecake should be.

Happy diners
On more than one occasion, I have complained about the slow service at Dean & Deluca, especially at the takeout counter. I think this has been addressed somewhat. We did experience a snag when one of our additional orders wasn't placed but this was attended to immediately.

Dean & Deluca
Edades Tower
Amorsolo Drive,
Rockwell, Makati


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