August 22, 2008

Meat and greet (Elbert's Steak Room)

(Half of my USDA "Super" Prime Rib-Eye)

IN this third (and maybe final) installment of the my steakscapade, we finally got the chance to eat at Elbert's Steak Room last night. I know some people who have raved about this restaurant tucked away in the non-descript Sagittarius Bldg. along HV dela Costa St. in Salcedo Village. This building is so old, you would never have thought a fine-dining restaurant could or should be opened there. But I suppose it works, as the restaurant has made a name for itself in the steak world.

(Scallops in absinthe cream)

Overall, however, it wasn't a positive experience for us eating at this restaurant, despite the great company and the riotous fun we generally had because it was our regular super-chismis night w/ our favorite dining companion. Most of us thought, for the ginormous amount paid for our entire meal, there were certain expectations that were unmet.

So we first ordered our appetizers while waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive. The first waiter who attended to us was polite, and patient in taking down our orders, and explaining certain nuances of the menu. But, we had to order the breads instead of these being served immediately like in other fine dining establishments, and sorry to say, even my neighborhood bakery serves better pandesal. Strike one.

(Plump shrimps in the Gambas, oops, prawns pala. Apologies to the prawns police, hahaha.)

Then came the appetizers: Scallops in absinthe cream, and Gambas. The scallops were tender and mushy just the way I like them, but the cream sauce, if they really used absinthe, didn't taste anything like the liquor. Not even a hint of it. The Gambas, however, was better because the cook used plump prawns, although I would have preferred the dish to be more spicy.

(Green Salad in Asian Vinaigrette)

Then the Green salad came with its Asian vinaigrette. Unfortunately, the ginger in the vinaigrette was so overpowering and the dressing was swimming in it, so it sort of killed the freshness of the greens. I ordered the Tomato soup, which was so-so...very thin and watery actually. Strike two.

But I must admit that the USDA "Super" Prime Rib-Eye I ate, was on the whole, tender, juicy, with good marbling...and even if I'm not a steak lover, I really appreciated it. It was a good-sized serving so Ms. RP and I halved it. I didn't need to use any peppercorn sauce or the red wine and shallots sauce.

(Tomato Soup)

At first bite, though, it was super salty. So I tell this to the short waiter who was attending to us and he snippily answers, "Tanggalin nyo yung ibabaw." No "po," no "please", no "ma'am". As Miggy pointed out, and we do eat out a lot, there was not even an offer of changing the dish or at least "acting" to resolve the situation. Most upscale restaurants with professional waitstaff are trained well enough to say something like "Ma'am would you like us to change it for you?" Or like, "Ma'am, let me ask the chef what we can do." Or something to that effect. But Noooo....our waiter was snooty like he effing owed the goddamned restaurant! Hindi kami natuwa sa kanya...pramis! Also, toward the end of our dinner, the waiters were no longer very attentive...maybe perhaps because the owner of the restaurant had already left? And one waiter even got my order of tea wrong, despite the fact that he repeated it before scurrying off to order it. So, STRIKE THREE.

The sidings as well left very much to be desired. The Angel Hair Aglio Olio was practically drowned in olive oil, and the noodles were malabsa. The Truffled Mashed Potatoes was creamy but pretty ordinary, that I thought I should offer up my own recipe for this dish. The Porcini Mushroom Risotto was not creamy but gritty. I cook risotto a lot so I would think it still lacked cooking time and more broth. Sayang kasi, the porcini mushroom is very delicate and at the same time, if only the dish was served as it should have been, it would have been a good complement to the steak (although I personally prefer Portobellos in my risotto).

(Angel Hair Aglio Olio)

I must point out though that Elbert's Steak Room does have a fine stock of wines and champagnes. Very impressive, especially its private reserve. (I would be willing to wash the wine glasses just to drink the Château Cheval Blanc Grand Cru 2001...P31,000, whoa!) . Even if what we had last night was one of the lower-priced ones on the list (Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2002), it was good value. It was full-bodied with a hint of chocolate and berries, and generous amounts of oak. Yum!

Despite the Lavazza coffee, however, dessert fell flat. Like the bread, appetizers, and sidings, this course is not the restaurant's stronger points. Of the dessert sampler, the only dish I actually liked was the Creme Caramel (in other words, leche flan), because its sweet and tangy tastes played on my tongue rather well. On the other hand, the crust of the Apple Charlotte ala Mode, for example, was tough instead of flaky. Strike four.

(Porcini mushroom risotto)

I always tell this foodie friend that you really don't have to be a rocket scientist to be able to serve steak. The secret is using the correct grade and cut of the steak so you have the right marbling (the fatty deposits in between the meat grain), which gives the steak its flavor. And to me, the perfect seasoning is just plain salt and you can really savor the steak at its most naked state. Grill it or pan-fry it medium-rare so you get those juices flowing!

(Dessert sampler, clockwise from bottom: Creme caramel, Best chocolate mousse, Warm bread & butter pudding, Apple charlotte ala mode.)

In conclusion, the steaks (and wines) at Elbert's are definitely worth the trip, but I think more work needs to be done in the non-steak dishes, and on its customer service, to make your total bill really worth paying for. For all the hype that it's generated, frankly, it was kind of a disappointing experience overall.

(Note: I am curious about Elbert's Lunch menu which has interesting choices like a House Burgers w/ Gruyere Cheese – my favorite cheese in the world –  and Roast Beef sandwich with sukiyaki-cut slow roasted Rib-eye. At P550+, I think I might drop by just to see if lunch will change the way I feel about this restaurant.)

(Choose your dining corner...apologies, it was really dark.)

(Well-stocked bar. Cool barstools.)

(Elbert's Steak Room is at the 3rd floor of the Sagittarius Building III, 111 H. V. de la Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City)


Anonymous said...

Oh, so you were the guys who were really rowdy in the private room with the *** last night. I'm sorry, Stella (may I call you Stella? I read your blog regularly enough to I feel we should be on first name basis), but the truth is, my normally pleasant and wonderful experience at Elbert's wasn't such last night. That's thanks to the rowdiness of your company. I even had to request the waiter to close the door, but we could still hear you, and it affected the rest of the groups having dinner. If you only knew what was going on outside, some of us, who've never even met, were making comments on the rowdiness (there's just no other way to describe it).

I'm a regular at Elbert's. Contrary to all your negative experience, mine is always superb and pleasant (except for last night, and that's thanks to your group).

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, but then again, you kinda ruined our evening too, so maybe it's only fair you didn't.


Stella Arnaldo said...

Thanks for your comments J.P.

But let's focus on the food and the service, as I have in my restaurant reviews, instead of the behavior of other diners.

You think Elbert's Steak Room is hot, good for you (and for the owner). I won't totally cancel it out as a dining choice since as I said, I like some things about the restaurant (steak and wines), but the other dishes I didn't care for. I'm also not a fan of one particular waiter's attitude, in contrast to the others who were congenial.

BUT in the end, no matter what I say, or you say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And those who dine at Elbert's (or at any restaurant for that matter) will come up w/ their own conclusions about the restaurant based on their personal preferences.

Each to his own J.P. With that, have a good weekend.

anonymous said...

over rated place... steaks are fine but how can you go wrong with steak? the rest of the add-ons which justifies the bill at the end of one's meal in this place is blah... and there is NO excuse for stupid service - ive been to this place twice and the steaks are ok (and then again, you can have that anywhere else - even at home)but that's about all there is to it


Anonymous said...

"anonymous said

over rated place... steaks are fine but how can you go wrong with steak? the rest of the add-ons which justifies the bill at the end of one's meal in this place is blah... and there is NO excuse for stupid service - ive been to this place twice and the steaks are ok (and then again, you can have that anywhere else - even at home)but that's about all there is to it"

Really you can have it anywhere?????? hmmmm, i'm a cook and i bought an angus prime rib from santis and i cooked it at home and it still doesn't taste anything like Elberts. There is a difference with steak whether you eat it at Malcolms or Melo's or Red. Mr. U.Y., another person who doesn't know much about steak commenting about steak!

You people who don't know about food like to blog and blog. Stella, at that photo of the gambas was 'prawns' not shrimps. You obviously don't know the difference.

Also, there is no excuse for boisterous behavior inside a restaurant that displeasures the other customers.


Stella Arnaldo said...

Hay naku, J,P, F.U, or whatever you wanna call yourself, we all know who you are naman e (duh). Stop being so defensive; if people want to eat at Elbert's they will eat at Elbert's. If they don't, they won't.

Shet prawns pala yon? Ang liit kaya noh? I only use that pang-gisa e. Hahaha.

Chaka pls. lang, no one's telling you to read this blog noh. You see a gun to your head? And next time, if you're pissed at people being so "rowdy", speak up. Right at that moment! Anonymous ka pa jan! E if you did right there and then, we could've invited you in. We're not stuck up naman e; we make friends easily and we have fun when we're together! hahaha.

O sya cook ka na, Mr. Cook. Dinner time!

Stella Arnaldo said...

And just to address U.Y.'s point pala, mejo JP/FU is correct. It is difficult to find really tender steaks that approximate those served at Elbert's (or any fine dining restos' which import their steaks from the U.S.) around these parts, U.Y.

The last time I was able to buy steaks that soft was of all places, a grocery in Palau w/c sold USDA certified Angus beef. I remember one restaurateur/hotelier hoarding them and bringing them back to Manila, and also because it was such a steal. I won't say who it was ;)

O cya cool it na bhoys, ghels, and gheys, steak lang to, pinag-aawayan pa natin. Dami na nga nagugutom sa Pinas noh?

anonymous said...

i just wanna say this - i KNOW my steaks - and they ain't the kind served in that pretentious place where you, ms. arnaldo, were having obviously a good time. i know my steaks and i don't particularly like elbert's steaks. and i can comment anytime about steaks - the ones i like and the ones i don't like - when i want and how i want it.


Stella Arnaldo said...

Oki, oki, enough na on who has the best steaks, where to find it, etc. All that steak eating is making everyone too aggressive! Afraid naman kayo.

First day of the work week peeps, so work na! (ugh)