Prism Restaurant Café
El Madero Farm and Resort, Bagong Pook, Lipa City, Batangas
Contact: (043) 727-1004, 0917-592-9200
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) Sometimes, you come across things that answer questions you didn’t even know you were asking. You probably weren’t looking for a new go-to getaway, for instance; you’re missing the tried and true enough as it is, and can’t wait to go back. We get it.
But picture this: A lakeside restaurant with a perfect view of the island in the middle, that looks like an actual postcard all day and even more so at sunset; that serves food you could never dream of 1) making at home or 2) having the skills to do so; boasting possibly the warmest, most genuine service you’ll experience in or out of the Metro.
Also read: 10 Tita-Approved Romantic Restos With a View in Metro Manila
Hit up this fine dining spot in Batangas for great views and even better eats:
Apart from the lovingly well-thought-out interiors—which include chairs made by local carpenters and upholstered by the owners themselves, wine crates from their liquor suppliers, a slim pillar of mirrors in the middle of the main dining area, and those cute glasses that are shaped to look just like well-cut gems (what’s up, Julia Fox)—Prism Restaurant Café has a history to it. And we mean that literally. It was once the residence of a wealthy family (explaining the upstairs bedrooms and rooftop dance hall) now rented out to Grant Zuñiga, his partner Aaron Valeroso, and their team-slash-kitchen family for a spell.
But it’s not all location, location, location; the menu is nothing if not a list of adventures to far-off if not completely made-up fantasy worlds. It can stray into Alice in Wonderland territory—and we mean the trippy 1950s one—particularly with the Olive and Pepper Crusted Tuna (P850). It says “tuna,” but almost reads like a steak, not only because of the sheer heft and size of the serving but also due to the Barako and dark chocolate jus. The olives in the crust lend only a soft brininess, keeping the dish’s ocean origins understated, even though the main ingredient is literally locally caught fish.
Just as wild is the Watermelon Sashimi (P510), a one-of-a-kind starter that might make you rethink what you know about fish, fruit, and even caviar; either way, you can expect a collective of subtle flavors (ranging from sweet to acidic to notes of pumpkin, despite a complete lack of pumpkin) that work together to wake you up if this is your first stop on your Batangas road trip. And that caviar? Plot twist: It isn't actually caviar, although it does have a similar salty profile to the fish roe, with a balsamic twist. It's definitely something to ask your waiter about when you get there.
Sticking with the seafood theme, the Prism Cured Chili-Fennel Salmon (P430) is the in-house gravlax, served with a bright ponzu sauce. Salmon’s great on its own, but the fennel and citrus notes both balances out and lift up the salinity from the curing process. It makes for a beautiful starter, but we would also recommend having it on the side in between heartier dishes. It will keep throughout the meal—it’s that good.
For something a little more familiar but nonetheless, a break from your usual, the Adobo-sa-Dilaw Chicken Confit (P600) lands somewhere between a Thai curry and, of course, a classic chicken adobo. The already tender leg is cooked down to an almost pillowy texture, heightened by the coconut vinegar and ginger, which in turn are mellowed out by the traces of bay leaf aroma.
While most of the ingredients are, in fact, locally produced, there’s a distinct Batangueño savory-sweetness in the Melanzane (P300). And while true that “melanzane” usually refers to an eggplant parmigiana, this is based on the chorizo sausage made in town, dressed up with kesong puti rather than mozzarella. The fresh, rolled-up eggplant, delicate greens, and daikon thins add a great lightness to what would otherwise feel like a sausage stew, fancy though it is.
Feeling romantic? Their Seafood Risotto (P620) is ideal, whether you’re hoping to find love or have been celebrating it for years now. Mixed local (yet again!) seafood graces the dark, dramatic backdrop of black, softly stewed rice. As long as you’re not allergic to the stuff, it’s such an easy thing to eat and to like. Some might say it’s not first-date material, what with the ink, but we would argue that that’s exactly what makes it the perfect thing to order; if they can’t handle you with squid ink in your teeth, you can’t rely on them in a jam.
If you’re feeling good about yourself, have the kitchen bust out any of the beef numbers to go with that risotto. Literally, any of them. Even the least expensive item, the Beef Filet (P1,800) spells a meal to remember, with potatoes mashed so smooth that they’re essentially a mousse and topped with a generous disc of herb-garlic butter. Prism uses wet-aged beef, as opposed to the older and more ubiquitous dry-aged stuff. That means it’s spent about a week marinating and tenderizing in its own natural juices, sealed up air-tight, and kept below freezing—specifically, anywhere between 28 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, or -2 to 1.67 degrees Celsius. You know, like your heart. (Cue mic drop.)
But if your heart is looking to warm back up, look no further than the al-fresco space downstairs. It’s nothing short of gorgeous; all your teenage prom dreams come true, with the soft, stringed-up little lanterns lighting the white and woven outdoor furniture. It overlooks the same view of Taal, adding to the atmosphere.
It’s the perfect place for drinks, like their Strawberry Mojito (P450) and White Sangria (P360). The former is almost syrupy, thanks to the Don Papa rum, which suits the sliced strawberries in it just fine; the latter is surprisingly light, even for a sangria. With that, we should warn you that they’re both pretty deceptive, as many fruit-leaning libations tend to be. That is, don’t have too many—we care about you—but stick to a modest portion and you’ll be in for a zesty ride.
We’ve all felt the mid-pandemic shift in going-out attitudes—it is the age of introverts, hurrah—but whether you’ve kept your itchy feet or need seven layers of convincing to get out of the house, Prism is completely worth the Waze hunt. In sum, those Instagram story add-a-photo prompts that say, “Where are you right now mentally?” should and will have more of this place among the answers.
Photos by Majoy Siason
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