Published at Rouge. Photos by Patrick Diokno
Rogue‘s sneak peek of Chef Akrame Benallal’s new Manila restaurant reveals a Michelin-worthy menu
A slab of meat, properly rested, crusted by salt and fire. A glass of bold red – French, of course. And pommes, glorious pommes.
This is the center of Atelier Vivanda’s universe.
It is the latest big restaurant opening in the BGC area, and it’s looking like a future hit already.
The wizard behind the curtain is Frenchman Akrame Benallal, he of the two Michelin stars. That’s a pretty big deal – and the first chef of his caliber to set up shop in our corner of the world. In this food crazy city of ours, you know that people will come on the merit of that alone.
His menu is deceivingly simple, yet nuanced enough to make it interesting for even the most jaded of diners. But to be fair about it, his crew have the chops to please just about anyone. Often, simple is better.
A soft-boiled egg dish, something chef Akrame insisted on serving because he noticed Pinoys love ordering anything with an egg, is topped with beautifully plated mushrooms, mayo and cottage cheese.
Potato soup is given some oomph with smoked haddock and Comté cheese – both of which ultimately give balance to this hearty starter.
A lobe of foie gras is kissed by some vanilla bean celery coulis, and small bits of candied kumquat to give the richness a sweet and sour chaser of flavor.
All these starters are just the opening chapter, with the mains the star attraction of the whole experience. Steak is the order of the day, of course, salted aggressively and made to order.
Ribeye is good and solid – like the good ol’ boy whom locals all know and love.
Even better, and not something you usually see in these parts, is the seared duck breast, rare, and juicy, and so satisfying.
For a little extra, you can go nuts and order a massive Holstein beef slab for two.
Wrapping up the savory parts are potatoes of all sorts, available in unlimited quantities. Yup, as much as you can eat of that creamy gratin, or the heavenly pommes dauphinois. Not eating carbs? Suck it, man. You’re going to want this.
Desserts aren’t bad – the standout being a chestnut cream and yogurt combination that brings you in for a soft landing.
Atelier Vivanda is the kind of restaurant that you know will do quite well. It is familiar and yet still exciting. It is contemporary, and yet rooted in classics. It is delicious and will be the home of many good meals to come.
Atelier Vivanda is located at U-A8 Forbes Town Center, Forbes Town Road, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call +632 8482632.