Monday, November 05, 2007

Elbert's Steak Room: don't judge a restaurant by its entrance

Recently it seems I have been depending on my dear friend Yang's suggestions for everything, from what gifts to buy to which style to have my hair cut to where to have dinner. Based on another recommendation of hers, for my brother's birthday last November 1, I reserved a table at Elbert's Steak Room along H.V. Dela Costa in Makati. Though the restaurant is housed in an old commercial building with a nondescript facade, we had little trouble finding it. We did, however, have a bit of trouble finding the entrance to the restaurant, which is located on the 3rd floor and accessed via a narrow flight of concrete stairs off the building's main door. As we made our way up, my mom's best friend Auntie Nene, whom we had invited to dinner in loco parentis, kept voicing her doubts as to the existence of a fancy restaurant in such a dreary setting.

Her doubts were allayed once we stepped through the red sliding door that is the portal to Elbert's, the interior of which is a stark contrast to its dismal exterior. Though the place is small, the decor and furnishings are unmistakably classy in their simple, sleek elegance, as are the place settings at each of the tables (3 tables for 4 and 1 long table for 8 in a private room-- like I said, the place is small). The atmosphere is intimate, the vibe cosmopolitan chic-- ideal for long lunches for high-powered execs with corporate accounts to burn, or romantic dinners for yuppie couples with an urge to splurge.

The menu is printed on a sheet of cream-colored paper, and consists of steak, steak, steak, and... steak. It isn't called Elbert's Steak Room for nothing. Although the kitchen could whip up a seafood or surf and turf entree upon request, meat is the main fare on the menu, with 4 options for the carnivorous diner to choose from: Filet Mignon, Chateaubriand, New York Strip, and the ubiquitous Rib Eye. Each steak comes with a fair-sized house salad with a lovely Asian ginger dressing, plus a choice of soup. That night it was either tomato or pumpkin, and we all went with the tomato, which was tangy and tasty, though the soup portions are not as generous as the salad. Auntie Nene also took particular delight in the delicious fan-shaped dinner rolls from the bread basket, and had to resist eating the last piece, lest she become too full for her main course (although she was just splitting a steak with Hanks).

We all had the rib eye, and mine was cooked to medium well perfection. It looked intimidatingly large on my plate, but I worked on it slowly, almost luxuriously, and each bite was truly a treat. We all agreed that by themselves the steaks were flavorful enough, but we couldn't ignore the medley of savory sauces placed in the center of our table. My favorite was the peppercorn, followed by the chimichurri, which was surprising since I'm usually not wild about cilantro. Side dishes are optional (and a tad pricey at P150 an order), and I tried the gratin dauphinoise, which was better than the porcini mushroom risotto my sibs had. Auntie Nene said the angel hair pomodoro was satisfactory but nothing special, and I'll have to take her word for it since I neglected to try it. Side dishes aside (pun not intended), the steaks were the true stars of the show, and the Clos du Val Merlot (a 2003 Napa Valley red wine) our waiter recommended went exceptionally well with the rib eye.

Dessert came compliments of the house, a sampler comprised of creme caramel, apple bread pudding a la mode, and "the best" chocolate mousse. Since it was Bens' birthday, we asked the waiters to stick a candle in the chocolate mousse, and they obliged us by singing Happy Birthday to him. Afterwards, proprietor Elbert Cuenca came over to our table and personally thanked us for celebrating at his restaurant. I had a cappuccino with dessert, and I have a feeling it would have met even my mom's coffee connoisseur standards. Chocoholic that I am, the mousse was my favorite of the desserts, but all 3 were yummy and had us licking our spoons clean.

The bill came to about P2,600 per head, but for a superb 4-course meal and a bottle of good wine, I didn't find it unreasonable. It's certainly not as expensive as Makati Shangri-la's Red, our usual destination for premium steaks, and while one could argue Red's ambiance is worth a pretty penny, one definitely gets more meat for his money at Elbert's.


Post a Comment

<< Home