TO the uninitiated in the gustatory pleasures of French cuisine, the names of the dishes alone are enough to make one feel insecure about ordering. A typical French restaurant’s menu would usually have foie gras, escargot, coq au vin, boeuf à la bourguignonne, mille-feuilles...just trying to pronounce these is already quite a mouthful.
While only a few years ago there must’ve been one or two hotel-based restaurants and some standalone specializing in French cuisine, recently—maybe in the last five years or so—gustatory pleasures with a French accent have once more gained traction in the local dining scene. At the top of my head, I can count about 10 or so standalone French restaurants, located outside of hotels, in varying degrees of quality.
Two of my favorites are in Makati: La Régalade, a bistro coowned by veteran hotelier Bubot Quicho, businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco, and a veritable who’s who in Philippine industry, with a menu created by two-star Michelin Chef Alain Rayé; and Restaurant CiÇou, owned and operated by Chef Cyrille Soenen (nicknamed CiÇou), who made his name locally as the chef of Prince Albert of the Hotel InterContinental Manila. (Click BusinessMirror for the rest. All photos except for Chef Soenen's profile, is copyrighted by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo.)