FIRST IMPRESSIONS Should Metro Manila’s urban sprawl retard the creative juices from flowing, then perhaps, it’s time to shift the meeting to Tagaytay.
Renowned in Philippine guidebooks as the gateway to Taal Volcano – said to be the world’s smallest – Tagaytay has, of late, evolved into a bustling food hub.
One who has made this breezy city his home and creative base is former corporate-turned-chef, Paul Huang, whose stylish, yet cosy restaurant has been drawing a steady stream of appreciative diners since 2005. Avoid motoring up on weekends, which can be pretty intense due to hordes of Manilans wanting to enjoy Tagaytay’s high altitude. Stick to a weekday to have lunch or early dinner. It’s also possible to rent the entire restaurant for a company meeting or workshop. The place seats about 70 people in the main dining room.
THE FOOD Chef Huang has intentionally used his menu to highlight the produce that the provinces of Cavite (where Tagaytay is located) and Batangas (Taal Volcano) is famous for: vegetables, pineapples, beef and seafood. The assorted Tagaytay greens, drizzled with a lime-cilantro dressing, primed my appetite perfectly for one of Firelake Grill’s best sellers, the US Angus rib eye steak (220g). Its succulence left a clean plate in no time.
Having heard so much about the Pineapple Carpaccio – fruit poached in Malibu rum and torched like a crème brulée then topped with home-made coconut ice-cream in a sugar basket – Chef Huang’s “ode to Taal Lake” was the obvious, if not the only choice.
DRINKS The items in the cellar have been personally selected and tasted by the owner-chef and consist of best sellers from various boutique wine makers from France, resulting in reasonable prices. It has also popular varietals from Italy, Australia and the US.
SERVICE Attentive but not intrusive. Our waiter was well versed in the attributes of the selections we considered.
Margie T Logarta
PRICES A meal for two without wine starts from PHP1,000 (US$21.52). The same menu is offered for lunch or dinner.
CONTACT Unit 3 Cliffhouse Tagaytay, General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, Cavite, tel 63 46 483 2069, www.firelakegrill.com
OPENING HOURS 11am to 2pm for lunch and 6pm to 10pm for dinner, Monday to Friday; 11am to 10pm for meals all day, Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
VERDICT Worth many return trips to try more of Chef Huang’s innovative and tasty creations.