I got this invitation in the mail from good friend Tessa, and I knew I couldn’t miss it. Tessa is notorious for her off-the-hook parties, fantastic prizes, and all-out fun games and programs. This time, it was a pre-Easter brunch get together before we all leave Manila for our Holy Week travels.

The brunch was held at Impressions, a spin-off restaurant beside Genting Club in Maxims at Resorts World. Maxims is the only 6-star hotel in Manila and  Genting Club is a members-only club, but Impressions is open to casino goers and gourmands who want to experience luxury on a plate.

A Tessa! party is never complete without her personal touches that completely take on the theme of her events. Being an interior-designer (she designed Hotel Elizabeth Cebu & Baguio!), she has a knack for bring props and accessories together to turn something as simple as a table into an Easter-worthy spread.

Way to personalize: she brought in some of her hats and headpieces and plastic Easter eggs, and even used framed photos with friends as placeholders. I got to keep 2! The oil pastels are for a later game. We love Tessa’s games.

The finished table setting

We had to write down our names and our Easter wish on the table lining. I guess my wish will have to wait until after Easter ends. Judging from the spread, it will definitely not happen during brunchtime.

Signature Tessa vibrance

Before we began our brunch meal, we were introduced to Impressions’ Chef, Cyril Soenen of Restaurant Cicou fame. Chef Cyril is a Filipino trapped in a Frenchman’s body; he has made his mark all over the world before settling in Manila and opening restaurant Cicou, currently with Istituto Culinario. Chef Cyril noted that, although Impressions offers fine-dining for casino goers and diners, Sunday is a special day for the restaurant because their Gourmet Sunday Brunch is served.

The walls of Impressions are lined with bottles and bottles of fine wine that would pair well with any of Chef Cyril’s dishes.

But for brunch, it has got to be the bubbly, and Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial, at that.

There are three stations at Impressions. The Cold Station is the first stop, where you start off with something light. The counter is designed in such a way that the products are showcased and chilled at the same time.

The Cheese shelf has an impressive selection of decades-aged cheese that you cannot find in your neighborhood deli.

This platter is enough to make my mouth water. Add some Valencia honey to make your cheese plate both sweet and savory.

There is an Antipasti section and a Bread bar where freshly-baked bread is accompanied by churned butter and little bottles of jam. The salad bar is customizable. No need to mix, as the chefs happily ask if you would like a customized salad with a myriad of options.

The Charcuterie shelf has cured meat from Europe that are sliced upon order. Fancy some prosciutto atop your arugula salad? Or some salami to go with your cheese? They will customize everything for you.

This is what I call the Gourmet shelf. Although there are four types of caviar available on the counter, the best ones are underneath the glass.

Moluga caviar, fresh Uni, and oysters to be shucked are prepared upon request. Whole mounds of foie gras also await your instructions.

Chefs happily shucking oysters

Chef Cyril personally cooked our orders of Foie Gras. Pan-seared, maybe?

The Hot Station is the second stop, where food is cooked, grilled or fried upon request, and upon your preference.

The Chefs all seem to love the Hot Station.

Fresh produce sit amongst side dishes, waiting to be used as an accoutrement to your pasta or omelet dish.

The Eggs station can whip up a mean omelette or, the perfect breakfast dish: Eggs Benedict. The Pasta bar has fresh pasta selections as well as freshly-prepared sauces. I heard the Lemon Cream sauce was fantastic.

I was mesmerized by the Tandoori oven, which makes authentic middle-eastern dishes using centralized heat. It also makes Naan if you want an Indian taste. Lamb kabobs, anyone?

Lobsters, giant prawns, scallops, rib-eye, spring chicken, Rougie duck. The freshest seafood and the choicest of meats and poultry are available for your pleasure. The charming chefs politely recommend preparations for you to try out. I suggest you take their advice and allow yourself to get surprised.

The Hot Station is spearheaded by an entire USDA Prime Rib Roast, cut thickly with several creams and sauces to choose from. There is even Yorkshire Pudding! They also ask you how you want your meat prepared. I could not wait to get my fork in this baby.

Chef Cyril works closely with the other chefs, and you can see the camaraderie they have is admirable.

As much as I wanted to try everything, I had to pick my battles. Here are my four-courses. Ok fine, it’s really five courses but I refuse to show how much cheese and caviar I had ingested. First Course: Oysters on the half shell with Sherry mignonette. 2nd Course: Arugul, tomato and mozarella salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette, seared foie gras, and 24-month aged prosciutto di Parma. 3rd Course: Lobster & Prime Rib Surf & Turf with Truffle Cream Sauce. And lastly, is dessert.

The Dessert Bar

Everything is made by hand, and heated upon ordering. Fresh Gelato, white chocolate fondue, and pastries are all the offerings.     The dessert bar is heralded by Chef Miko who, at the tender age of 25, has already won numerous awards and medals in pastry preparation in the international stage.  He was about to leave for Hong Kong this Thursday for another competition.

Madeleines with truffle honey, pineapple truffle and THE BEST: Cheesecake Truffle (OMG). Green Tea trifle and, Chef Miko’s favorite, Strawberry Shortcake.

Fondue dippers, pastries… I could go on and on…

But the highlight of the dessert table had to be this: the Caviar Cheesecake. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is savory salty caviar generously topping a decadent cheesecake. Take me to heaven, now.

Although the food was outstanding, it became the perfect Easter brunch because I had the best host, who kept us acting, guessing and winning all throughout our meal. I won a Swatch!

All the well-fed Easter Bunnies who experienced a true Gourmet Sunday Brunch at Impressions.

             My first impression of Impressions is that it cannot be described in words. It got to be experienced personally in order to distinguish their offering from other high-end hotel buffets that overwhelm you with countless dishes that are more quantity than quality. At Impressions, their Sunday Brunch Buffet truly embodies the less is more mentality. The selection is less, because every single item on the buffet is top-quality, indulgent, and very high-end. Cheers to Champagne dreams and Caviar wishes. Impressions is where all your culinary wishes and dreams come true.

Gourmet Sunday Brunch (Php1800)

Impressions Restaurant
3F Maxims Tower
Resorts World Manila
+632 908-8888 or +632 908-8000

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