Update 6/6/2012: This establishment is now closed 🙁
The Establishment is taking the restaurant experience to a whole new “wow” level in Manila with Anton San Diego, Editor-in-Chief of Philippine Tatler, as the President of the Establishment.
It is a restaurant complex composed of four restaurants: The Tulipan Spanish Bar (with Tulip as the icon), The Hall Spanish Tapas Restaurant (with Branches as the icon), The Crystal Room French Fine Dining (with Mirror as the icon), and the Oriental Chinese Restaurant (with Chair as the icon). If you look closely at the logo, it is a collage of the tulip, branches, mirror and chair icons.
Tulipan Spanish Bar is the smallest area, which is basically a typical bar and lounge area.
The Hall is a Spanish Fine Dining Restaurant with silhouettes of branches covering the biggest area of The Establishment. Pin lights hanging from the high ceiling illuminate each table and give the illusion of vines coming out of the roof.
I was intimidated by the whole scene created by Anton Mendoza, a famous restaurant interior designer. My wife was a bit scared because it was like being in the Addams Family home (Note: check out the eerie candelabra). The first phrase uttered by my brother to describe the place was “Bonggang bongga.”
Whatever your first reaction is, The Establishment certainly makes an impression. Finally, we have an elegant restaurant like the ones in Shanghai, Hongkong or even Indonesia that would make you go “WOW!”
Water is served with strawberry and mint. A refreshing innovation instead of the usual dayap or pandan leaves.
The Establishment imported Joseph, the mixologist, who created an awesome line-up of original signature drinks.
We tried Chocnut Martini (P250)- Absolut vodka infused with chocnut liqueur, mixed with Jim Beam bourbon and soymilk, then topped with cocoa powder and served with chocnut on the side. Personally, I was not impressed because the martini tasted diluted. I would have wanted a more chocolate-y alcoholic punch.
My brother tried Pineapple Face (P250)- Fresh pineapple juice blended with Bacardi white rum and young coco n lime juice, then topped with toasted coconut on the rim. The coconut overpowers the entire drink, especially the toasted ones.
My favorite’s the Climate Changed– Bacardi white rum, lime and apple juice muddled with spiced peppers, cucumber, and finished with a few drops of turmeric juice. Super hot and spicy indeed! I love it when the description delivers the experience it describes.
You might want to try the crushed sodas (P250) like Strawberry Coke, Papaya Sprite, Cucumber Soda and Lime, Calamansi Tonic, Cucumber and Ginger Ale, and Watermelon Soda.
The mocktails look cool too:
Bananarama honey and vanilla balsamic glaze with banana (P295)
Carousel Pina with apple juice mixed with ginger with muddled fresh mango (P350)
Up and coming Pinya with Lime Blueberry Jam and lime leaves (P250)
A bit of fun, watermelon lychee with honey mint leaves (P250)
Let me know your favorite drinks.
Now, on to the food…
Cochinillo Lechon Croquettes (P220).
Instead of potatoes, bechamel is used with different stuffings inside. Our favorite is the cochinillo lechon with a slice of lechon skin teasing you to eat it. A good pica-pica for 2-3 persons.
Baked Scallops (P560).
Expensive but not that impressive.
Paella Tulipan (P800-small). Saffron-flavored rice with seafood, chicken and pork. Allow 30 minutes of cooking time. It also comes in a large size (P1,800), which is good for 18 people.
The food is by Margarita Fores of the Cibo empire. True to Margarita’s signature cooking, the paella is cooked al dente. The saffron does not overpower the entire dish. The small size is good for 6 people. Since we were only on a double date with my brother, we had three servings each. For every serving, the young attendants (mostly less than 25 years old) gladly helped us put the paella on our plates.
Here are the other menu options:
Gambas al Ajillo (P250). River prawns with olive oil and paprika.
Salpicado Tulipan (P995). Angus tenderloin with sauteed portabello mushrooms and roasted pepper by Baby Flores
Chuletillas de cordera (P855). Miele di Lavanda baby lamb chops with acacia honey and lavender seeds.
Quezo de bola Cheesecake (P450). Crushed graham crackers and quezo de bola cheese, topped with muscovado chantilly.
For some reason, the desserts of Margarita Fores always fail to impress me. The flavors are more subdued and there’s a lack of creativity in the presentation.
At 8pm, the saxophonist plays relaxing tunes, like the popular theme song of Sex and the City.
Each room in The Establishment has different background music. The Hall plays soothing acoustic and Spanish songs. (Even the restroom is a conversation piece in itself because of the How to Learn Spanish background music and the signature brands of perfume available on the counter.)
Congratulations to Anton San Diego and Partners for a job well done in The Establishment! I can’t wait for the opening of the French Fine Dining section and the Oriental Chinese section.
The Establishment Unit A, The Fort Entertainment Complex 26th Street corner 5th Avenue Fort Bonifacio, Global City, Taguig, Manila (Besides Le Souffle)
For reservations, call +632 844-6364, +63916 4946390, (general manager’s number: +63917 530-2220 ) (You can reserve the dining tables in the Hall, but I prefer to reserve the big lounge area.)
Note: This is one of those times when you have to dress up nicely to eat and mingle with the high-society crowd in The Establishment.