Lately whenever I tell my mother that I am going out for dinner with my Creamy Addict friend K, she usually responds: Didn’t you just have dinner with her? It’s true. I take advantage of free nights to date it up with K. She is, after all, a much-traveled lady who only comes to Manila about 8 days in a month. Whatever free time she has to spare me, I’ll grab it.
We end up in Lusso
on the left wing of Greenbelt 5. The name itself sounds like a loose version of Luxe,
probably because the restaurant attempts to make available worldly gastronomic delights to the Filipino’s welcoming palate. Margarita Fores is akin to this habit, as she’s mastered the art of reinventing cuisine with her signature Filipino flair. But Cibo it is not. It’s not exactly affordable luxury, but it sets an aspirational appeal within reach.
The restaurant itself feels glamorous with a modern old-world appeal. The walls continue the beautiful tiling of the floor with natural stone, and the high ceiling was, literally, gilded in gold. The slipper chairs were covered in crushed velvet and the tables marble. It was a swanky place and I definitely could not help feeling oh so posh. I mean seriously, it’s almost glistening in gold bars.
What do I spy: sexy exposed bar! And of course, what comes next after falling in love with the bar?
I order a cocktail.
I love the extensive champagne menu with a complementing fruit essence list to perk up the bubbly. Our server mentioned that Lusso was actually meant to showcase their selection of Champagne, hence the pared down menu and “champagne” colored ambiance. I made my little version of the Bellini with some Champagne + Peche.
I made up my mind upon being seated in the plush furniture: I was going to break bank tonight. So I started off with the Foie Gras Brulee
accompanied by trimmed toast. It had the perfect consistency of a just-firmed brulee, made savory by the inclusion of foie gra
s, or fattened goose liver. K didn’t like it because it was a little on the sweet side. I had to agree, since liver doesn’t really roll well with sweetness, but a little salt and it fixed the problem. I loved how it was served with mother of pearl spreaders.
Next we prepared ourselves for the next course: soup
. There was no mention of it on the menu, but I had to ask and good thing I did. Our server Bobby mentioned their kitchen specials and we ordered both. I am seriously enjoying the bone China.
My order was the Lobster Bisque
with an accompanying ravioli. Reduced to intensify the flavor of the lobster, it was seasoned a little more to bring out the oceanic flavors of this deep sea critter. And the ravioli; can I have some more? I would be completely satisfied with three of these bowls. Delicious.
K ordered the Potato Soup
. My apologies for completely forgetting the other ingredients but it was creamy and had a very rich meaty flavor. This probably means I must come back to discover what’s inside this “potato” soup.
Then came the much-awaited main courses. As the server laid placed my dish in front of me, I began conjuring up wet dreams on getting my hands on a cast-iron crock pot just like that. If I can get more than a pair in such a cute size, it would be the full monty.
Side story: Back in high school, HomeEc was one of my fave subjects. Seriously. Not only did I successfully pattern, cut, and sew a pair of shorts (the varsity project) which actually looked good and lasted for about 6 years, I also exposed my culinary prowess and tried to one-up the teacher by cooking up a storm. I’m willing to admit I was a bit bossy and left the cutting, chopping and cleaning to my group mates. I apologize if any of you are reading this right now, but didn’t our dishes taste good?
As the lid was lifted, I was welcomed by the nostalgic meaning of this dish. Sheperd’s Pie
was one of those signature dishes that had to be made in order to graduate (that was the teacher’s threat anyway). Our highschool version (if memory serves me right) had a layer of cabbage + carrots, sitting under ground pork cooked in tomato sauce, and smothered by a top layer of mashed potatoes. I had never tried Sheperd’s Pie before, and I was taken aback by how filling and tasty it turned out. This was the ultimate hibernation dish.
The adolescent version was pretty good if I remembered correctly, but Lusso’s version was literally the grown-up rated-R version of this lowly peasant’s dish. Braised lamb sits atop savory seasoned prunes, sealed by the fragrant opaqueness of truffled mash. I mean, even my description had to sound adult like and enticing. It was hearth and haute in one hardcore crockpot. I love regular things spruced up, and Lusso took this one to the next 5 levels of coolness. Delicious, rich and sinful, and it’s not dessert!
They say things are better the second time around. I believe Lusso was the next time after that first time. But now I am far from high school, ankle length uniforms, and juvenile issues. Yet, inasmuch as I had outgrown all those things, I still sat right across this girl in high school who wrote me my first inter-classroom letter when I was fourteen: K. The Creamy Addict.
Same happened with K’s order of mac & cheese. But don’t look down at it just yet, it’s nothing like the crayon yellow goo you get from the blue Kraft box, although it was mighty tasty whilst being a college student. Lusso’s Luxe Mac & Cheese
had crispy diced Pancetta topping a trio of formaggio (cheeeeeze!!!). I took one look, and had an initial feeling of fear, because it looked similar to the one she ordered at LU, and we know how that turned out.
But, No Comparison. This was, straight up, the most adult and well-executed presentation of what is usually a mere side dish. It was not overflowing with cheese sauce, yet it was inexplicably creamy, rich and potent at the same time. I smell truffle… it’s always that damn truffle that gets me. K is a certified Creamy addict, and she was all smiles. Vindication after much hype!
I had a great time at Lusso, feeling all grown up and as if we were invited to a sophisticated high tea ceremony at the Peninsula. Yes, it’s that feeling. But K & I wanted to step down the snoot ladder a bit for dessert, so we left Lusso and headed to the place that will forever be remembered as the mackdaddy of Mac & Cheese: Mr. Jones
K ordered the cookie dough cheesecake. I got the Earnest aka Giant Mojito.
What can I say? Old habits die hard. K likes creamy, I like tipsy. We were taught well.
I can’t wait to have brunch at Lusso and hit up more Champagne concoctions + French Croissants flown in direct from Paris, or their En Cocotte with Foie Gras & Portobello or with Caviar, or Three Egg Omellete + Truffle Cream. I die.
Lusso is on the outskirts of Greenbelt 5. The place it quite tiny, so call +632 756 5893 (luxe) to get a table.