(SPOT.ph) The dining scene is an ever-evolving landscape, with the post-pandemic era bringing about notable shifts. Among these—perhaps in line with the need for social distancing, or just the desire to explore offbeat paths and go beyond the usual dining spots around—is the rise in popularity of private dining.
Now, restaurants and other food ventures with private-dining options have long been around; plenty of establishments have private rooms you can rent for gatherings. There is, however, the rise of culinary ventures—often these are chef-driven concepts that may be housed in the chef’s own abode, or may be roving without a permanent space—that are more or less exclusive to private dining, or available for dining at only by reservation. It’s (many) extra steps, entailing planning ahead and often having to meet a minimum number of diners per table to book—but the exemplary meals offered by these dining spots and projects make it well worth the effort.
Note that for some of these entries, the exact addresses are given only upon booking.
Also read: 10 Best Tasting Menus in Manila Right Now
Hit up these private dining restaurants and other ventures:
Drive out to Silang, Cavite and you’ll find Mrs. Saldo’s, a private-dining enclave with a dining room, back room, bakery, and al-fresco dining areas in a lush garden setting. This nature-filled scene’s vivacity is matched by the vibrant flavors of their food, which are primarily inspired by the travels of Gaggan-trained Chef Rhea Rizzo. A la carte and even brunch options are available, but your best bet is to go for their Asian set menu (P3,900/head) that features Rizzo’s interpretations of memorable eats around the continent. Among these are the stick-to-your-ribs Peranakan Lamb Curry, whose spiced, warming profile is balanced out with pineapple and butterfly pea rice); and the Beef Salad with a zingy beef-liver mix and refreshing scoop of cucumber-wasabi ice cream. The wine-pairing option (additional P3,000)—featuring bottles selected by Uvas Wine Club's Butz Tenchavez—is well worth getting, too.
Mrs. Saldo's is at Barangay Malabag, Silang, Cavite. You can also check out their Facebook page.
L’Apartament Private Dining
Though relatively new, L’Apartament has taken over the local food lovers’ circle by storm. No wonder; Chef Sonny Miguel Tan—who describes the venture as “more of a ‘passion project’ than a business”—graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of Barcelona (with accolades that include having a Grand Diplôme on Haute Cuisine and Alta Cocina, and Masters in Executive Chef Management and Food & Beverage); has worked as a private chef and F&B consultant in Barcelona and Madrid; trained at Michelin starred establishments Disfrutar and Lasarte; and so on. The veritable chef is heavily influenced by his travels, having been to more than 80 countries, with Catalan cuisine and tradition playing a big role in his cooking philosophy and techniques.
Tan describes his style as avant-garde, and cooking as his way of “expressing his love for food and art” by understanding the nature of ingredients, as well as a medium by which he pays tribute to fond memories in his life. No wonder he dubs his dishes—some examples from previous runs of which are the Memoria de Mi Papá Tortilla China de Cangrejo (a crab foo yong-inspired course dedicated to his father) and Langostino en un Estanque Una Historia de Amor (featuring king prawn in a chocolate and Greek-tea consommé "pond")—"moments."
For inquiries and reservations, check out L’Apartament Private Dining’s Instagram page.
Chef Tatung Sarthou needs no introduction, what with his two restaurants in the city (Lore and Pandan Asian Café) and series of online cooking videos and cookbooks. It’s at Tatung’s, however, that the famous chef goes all out and showcases what he does best. The private-dining haunt isn’t the easiest to get to on just any random weekday, being located in a secluded area in Rizal—but it’s well worth the drive. The chef has a commendable way of bringing local Filipino ingredients and flavors to the contemporary, fine-dining realm—without having them lose their essence—and engages diners by sharing tidbits of history and culture that’ll feed more than just your stomach.
Tatung’s is in Antipolo, Rizal. For inquiries and reservations, check out Tatung’s Facebook page.
This supper club in Quezon City aims to bring people together, the binding agent being—you guessed it—good food. Chef Ging Carsi Cruz (who graduated from the California Culinary Academy), son Joaquin Carsi Cruz (from CCA Manila), and the rest of the Lasa team whip up a range of dishes, many inspired by nostalgic dishes Ging would cook for Joaquin during his childhood, but given modern executions. Joaquin’s sisters also run the front of house of the family venture. The group holds communal pop-up dinners, called their Tasting Series, twice or more a month; they can also be booked for private events. Their menu evolves, but some standout courses from previous runs are the Duck-ah with the unexpected but surprisingly harmonious combo of Szechuan peppercorn-rubbed duck breast, lavender dukkah, orange gel, pear relish, and apple-pastis jus; and the Humba with Kurobuta pork shank, Tagaytay pineapples, and lacto-fermented veg.
For inquiries and reservations, check out Lasa Supperclub’s Instagram page.
Young chef Don Baldosano possesses a breadth of creativity and curiosity in the kitchen that he applies to Filipino elements at Linamnam. The private-dining venture (served at the chef’s own backyard in his Parañaque home) will have you looking at local cuisine in novel (yet clever) ways, with the chef growing or foraging for lesser-known known ingredients (e.g., kamias flowers), making his own ferments and charcuterie (including etag), or reworking classics in his own way (think daing-infused butter in a lumpia wrapper cup in the Daing Sa Hardin course from a previous menu). There’s always something new to learn (and to try) at this dining spot—about Filipino food, its roots, and its possibilities.
For inquiries and reservations, check out Linamnam’s Instagram page.
Run by Chef Kev David (who’s worked in the U.S. for the likes of Otium in Los Angeles, and Barbuto and Marea in New York) and Jolo David (of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo), Idalia holds pop-up dinners showcasing Kev’s freeform philosophy—an approach he was exposed to during his time at Otium, referring to the approach of having multiple cultures and influences come together without having to be limited by geographical boundaries. For the most part, though, Chef Kev shares his primary influences are Mediterranean, Japanese, and Mexican cuisines while employing techniques from all around the world (e.g., lacto-fermentation); dishes from previous runs include the Halibut with black truffle, zucchini, and celery, and the New York Strip with cauliflower, anchovy, and brown butter. You can also opt to book them for private functions for groups of eight and above; the team makes it a point to cater their menu to your preferences and requests, or you can opt to have them give you the “chef’s special.”
For inquiries and reservations, check out Idalia’s Instagram page.
KASAA Casual Filipino Cuisine
Great food and soothing views come together at this reservation-only dining spot—after all, it’s owned by a family who loves architecture as much as they do food. Their idyllic garden space allows for plenty of fresh air to keep you company, making it as great a spot for an intimate family reunion as it is for a date. Chef Andrew Fua aims to spread his love for the art of the degustation, sans the pomp—thus KASAA’s way of putting at the forefront casual Filipino eats (many inspired by his mom’s cooking and his own culinary journey) given subtle twists: think sous-vide salmon with an aligue-calamansi cream sauce, beef salpicao using brisket, and more.
Kasaa is at 35 Don Victorino Street, Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City. For more information, check out KASAA Casual Filipino Cuisine’s Facebook page.
It was the love for pizza that inspired the two-person team behind 29 Sang to launch the venture as a private dining concept with an open kitchen—thus doing away with the (physical and abstract) barriers between the kitchen and the guest. Calling their approach to food “straightforward” and “unassuming,” they don’t stray too far from the realm of the familiar—think pasta, Neapolitan style pizza, steak, the works—but makes these dishes their own by making what they can from scratch, with subtle upgrades (e.g. confit-ing their chicken) and their own distinct spins where applicable.
For inquiries and reservations, check out 29 Sang’s Instagram page.
Chef Aaron Isip has worked the kitchens of acclaimed establishments in Paris—including Apicius, Ze Kitchen Gallery, and Restaurant Le Dix Huit—apart from being awarded two Toques and the Chef Espoir 2015 award by French guide Gault et Millau. At Balai Palma, he shines the spotlight on local seafood and other ingredients and takes them out for a spin his way, with a distinguishable French influence. Standout dishes include Kilaw with smoked hamachi, and their suckling pork belly-wrapped lobster dish dubbed the Lechon de Lobster. High-caliber as the food might be it’s not hard to feel at home—in part due to the warm and inviting interiors, as well as the fact that it’s located at the chef’s own abode in Poblacion.
Balai Palma is at 6081 R. Palma Street, Makati City. For inquiries and reservations, check out Balai Palma’s Facebook page.
Part-garden where owner Chef Mil Crespo grows his own produce, part-private dining resto where Crespo and the team work their magic on said ingredients, Silang House (formerly Sa May Silang) will open your eyes and taste buds to the many possibilities available with great-quality veg. The team connects you to the natural landscape with a tour around the greenhouse, where they introduce you firsthand to organic produce they grow and use in their cooking. From there, you can sit down and dig into their multicourse meals—some sample dishes from previous runs being the Pomelo Jicama Salad with braised singkamas, pomelo chunks, and herbs; and the Tuna and Tanigue cooked mi cuit and wrapped in nori a la makizushi. Note that as of writing, Silang House is on hiatus but will be back soon; in the meantime you’ll want to keep an eye on their socials for updates.
Silang House is in Silang, Cavite. For more information, check out Silang House’s Instagram page.
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