Tuesday, September 13, 2011

4 of 10: Le Bistro d'Agathe

[This is the 4th restaurant review I'm doing for our binge bucket list series. Photos here.]

It was a small challenge finding Le Bistro d'Agathe, a hole-in-the-wall in Bangkal, Makati (former location of Fat Michael's). But the search was worth it, for the food turned out to be pretty darn good. Patrice Delobbe, the bistro's chef and proprietor, taking pity on us starving souls as we waited for our dining companions (who all had trouble finding the place), gave us a free sample of the meat terrine to tide us over. Spread on tasty slices of rye bread, the pork-and-liver terrine (described on the menu as "French meatloaf") was cold, crumbly and flavorful. I'm not a fan of creamy pates, so I actually enjoyed the rough texture of the terrine. Yang loved it so much she single-handedly polished off more than half before our friends arrived.

Everyone in our group opted for the set menu (choice of 1 appetizer, 1 entree, 1 dessert), price varying with the entree (range: P680-P890). Chef Patrice and the 2 efficient waitresses recommended some items from the deceptively simple menu. I say "deceptively" because while the dishes sound unimpressive in print, they are prepared and presented quite professionally. I went with the Soup of the Day (tomato basil), the Pepper Steak with Pan-fried Baby Potatoes, and the Apple Pie. Yang had the soup as well, the Tenderloin Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce, and the Chocolate Mousse.

I'm a sucker for a hearty tomato soup, and Chef Patrice's is chunky and comforting, fusing the mild tang of the tomatoes and the distinct aroma of basil to create a delicious, rustic potage. I don't think I should have emptied my bowl though, because I only had room left for half my steak, which was a crying shame as the meat was juicy and perfectly cooked (medium well is SO hard to achieve), and the pepper sauce was so good I could consume buckets of the stuff. Even the potatoes were good, and even though I was already full I still kept popping them in my mouth.

Yang also couldn't manage to finish her steak, in spite of enjoying it thoroughly, and when our plates got sent back to the kitchen the remnants alarmed Chef Patrice, who hurried out and asked what was wrong with the 2 unfinished steaks. I felt mortified, and we reassured him the steaks were fine, but we were just way too stuffed to take another bite.

But of course there's always room for dessert, and I left no trace of the apple pie on my plate. The pastry was flaky but firm, the apples crisp and the right balance of sweet and tart. I was so satisfied with it I didn't even find myself wishing it had come a la mode. I stole a small spoonful of Yang's chocolate mousse, which was smooth, dense and sweet, but not cloying. Tough call which was the superior dessert.

The only thing I found a bit off about Le Bistro d'Agathe was the location, which is not only hard to find but also felt unsafe. It's on a small street that's poorly lit at night, with no other commercial establishments nearby. The restaurant itself is small but cozy, and really looks like an authentic European bistro outside and inside. But it's very much out of place in Bangkal.

That said, we had a lovely time at Le Bistro d'Agathe-- we had the place to ourselves almost the entire evening, so it felt even more intimate and homey (although sometimes it was unnerving having Chef Patrice hovering around, probably checking if we were finishing our food, haha). Give it a try if you're looking for something besides the usual Makati joints. Le Bistro d'Agathe deserves at least one visit... but arm yourself with a map or GPS.


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