Tucked away in a subdivision in Tagaytay is a gem of a restaurant called Antonio’s. Chef Tonyboy Escalante opened its doors to the public in 2002, and introduced a completely different level of dining experience to the Philippines. Known for its delectable cuisine and sophisticated ambiance, Antonio’s is one of the best restaurants in the country. In fact, the Miele Guide – considered an indispensable guide to Asia’s best restaurants – ranked Chef Tonyboy 11th in its 2012-2013 list of Asia’s Top Chefs.
I have loved Antonio’s since my first visit (ten years ago!), and I continue to love it still. There are many reasons to love Antonio’s, the most important of which is this: it serves AWESOME FOOD.
Taste, freshness, presentation, and variety – I would give all of these top marks. My favorite thing about their menu is that each entree already comes with a house salad, soup of the day, and dessert. At first glance, the menu seems pricey. However, taking into consideration all the things that come with your entree, the price is worth it. You can also upgrade your salad and order separate appetizers and desserts.
Take a look at what we ordered today:
We started with freshly baked bread. It was crisp outside, fluffy inside. Knowing how big the servings of Antonio’s are, I did not finish my bread – although I savored each bite.
We ordered the Tempura Scallops as our appetizer. The scallops were perfectly cooked – tender and tasty without any hint of rubbery texture. It was complimented by the mayonnaise and mango sauce, as well as the caviar and coriander.
We upgraded our salad to Duck Leg Confit Salad with Citrus Yogurt Dressing. The husband was particularly happy with this dish – he said the confit was as good as bacon 🙂 The skin was crisp and just the right amount of salty, while the meat was tender and flavorful. The salad was lovely, and the dressing went well with the confit. My one (minor) complaint was that the pomelo they used was dry. However, as a whole, this salad was delicious.
The Soup of the Day was Clam Bisque served with a sesame wafer. It had a very fresh taste and the wafer crumbled in my mouth.
And then we had the main course.
Oh the main course! The husband ordered a Seafood Sampler composed of Pan Seared Scallops on Celleriac Mashed Truffle Cream Sauce, Pan Fried Pancetta Wrapped Chilean Sea Bass in Shrimp Saffron Risotto, Lobster Thermidor. The Sea Bass was the best and was bursting with flavor. And it was wrapped in bacon! (You can tell we love bacon) The other two were more subtle in taste but yummy just the same. I ordered an Antonio’s Trio: Grilled Beef Fillet Gratinated with Cepes-Morelle Black Truffle Mashed Potato, Honey Glazed Lambloin Gratinated with Goat Cheese, Grilled Beef Fillet Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce. Meaty goodness served in a beautifully arranged plate. I loved the grilled beef fillet plancha best because of the sauce (I am partial to Black Pepper). The beef with the mushroom and truffle sauce was in danger of being overpowered by the sauce, so it was a good thing the sauce was yummy. I am very picky about my lamb (I find it malansa most days) but this one was done very well and stood on its own even without any sauce. I was so happy with my meal I did a happy wiggle in my seat after practically each bite.
Last came dessert and tea/coffee. I am lucky enough to have a husband who doesn’t particularly care about dessert, so I usually get to eat two servings of dessert when we dine together 😀 I ordered the dark chocolate souffle and the pana cotta sampler. The souffle is always good and is a house specialty (I’ve ordered it for ten years). There is a bit of spice mixed in, which makes it more interesting. It is perfect with brewed coffee. But the sampler was a revelation. We were served little medallions of pana cotta in vanilla, coffee, and dark chocolate flavors. While the vanilla and coffee servings were good (the flavors were light and subtle, just the way a pana cotta should taste), the dark chocolate made me close my eyes in bliss. I do not joke. I literally closed my eyes and savored the moment. It was like eating quality dark chocolate that melted in your mouth in seconds. Mmmmmm. I will be dreaming about that dark chocolate pana cotta.
The entire meal was superbly done, and the service was impeccable. Considering the place was quite full, it was pleasant to be served quite quickly. Adding to the dining experience is the beauty of the place. Antonio’s is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve ever seen. At the same time, it’s cozy and welcoming. Take a look:
Antonio’s is my basis for judging other fine dining restaurants. Give it a try yourself and I’m sure you will understand why it’s one of my favorite places on earth.