Restaurant Alert: Chef Ariel Manuel Takes Over Poblacion with Bistro Manuel

Remember Lolo Dad’s? Once upon a time THE fine dining restaurant of Manila? 

Chef Ariel Manuel went MIA after Lolo Dad’s at 6750 and the original Lolo Dad’s on Quirino closed. He dabbled in an Asian resto on N Garcia/Reposo but that was short-lived. 

So it is great news for Ariel Manuel fans and fine dining lovers that – as Teddy Locsin Jr calls him – The Master is back. 

I had a Teddylicious dinner with my two favorite Teddys on Halloween: newly appointed Ambassador to the UN, His Excellency Teddy Locsin Jr and one of Manila’s most respected food writers Teddy Montelibano. I served as referee as the conversation ball swung from staunchly pro-Duterte to stubbornly anti between the two!

Like a beautiful symphony, Chef Ariel had us from the first note: a tray of his latest indulgent hors d’ouvres – oysters – each still lying in its shell but now on a cushion of angel hair pasta, baked in cheese and topped with pan seared foie gras. Manuel credits his son for this creation. 

Next, what the chef calls Elements of Duck: duck liver mousse, pan seared duck liver, poached duck egg, slices of duck breast … all on homemade waffles whose sweetness is just enough to balance the savoriness of the duck. 

All that was before the best bisque in town was served, which TBL noted is unlike other bisques that are bland or cloying. 

Then, in French fine dining fashion, after the soup came the fish course. But instead of fish, we indulged in crab cakes and soft shell crabs. 

But the lambs that followed really blew us away. 

First, lamb on lamb on lamb: lamb rump accompanied by lamb breast and sweetbread. In TBL’s words: Mama Mia!! This was accompanied by truffled mashed potatoes, daintily curved on the side. The lamb breast (it is hidden in this pic) was so soft and succulent it was almost like eating pork belly!

But the piece de resistance was the rack of lamb. Two huge cuts cooked perfectly – not gamey at all – with a side of blue cheese risotto. 

This really brings you back to Lolo Dad’s days. 

Nowadays, chefs are inclined to go by way of what the World’s 50 Best trends dictate: lots of drama, lots of talk of going local or going back to nature, yada yada yada. That some chefs forget what cuisine is about – food! 

Chef Ariel Manuel reminds us of the days when dining was more about eating than just appreciating art. Sooo happy he is back!

Desserts have been inspired by wife Mia: 

A tiramisu souffle with a side of chocolate mousse. Like I said over dessert – I would be happy even with just the chocolate mousse! 

And the Mango and Mascarpone Cheese Declension, a vertical mille feuille – TBL observed, “stacked like dominos” – accompanied by dulce de leche and topped with caramelized sugar that may inspire another Tessa Prieto Valdes hat. 

On the way out we checked out The Sippery, just below the restaurant. Here’s a Halloween toast to my dad Ephraim Salcedo – missing him dearly this All Souls Day and as the Christmas holidays approach. 

After that A-game dinner, we were so devilishly happy on the way home šŸ˜ˆ

Duterte, Marcos, Cory? Sex, Peace and Love? Happy Halloween!

Bistro Manuel is on Valdez St in Poblacion. From Makati Ave approaching JP Rizal, turn right on Valdez which is street of BPI across A Venue. Suuuper limited parking for now – but two cars can fit right in front of their building. And a couple more slots are available on the street. 

Note that Valdez is one way so you need to come in via Makati Ave. 

For now, cash basis only. But they are working on the credit card machine and an additional 10 slots for basement parking. 

Bistro Manuel. Six Axis Center, Valdez St, Poblacion, Makati. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended +632 871 8566, +63 926 734 1067.

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