Ever since we had our 5-course dinner at SOCO in Pasig (which I blogged about) my photogroup Fourground decided we would try as many of those as we can. It’s really fun, because it’s like taking a trip down a culinary road; you never quite know where the experience will take you. It’s also a chance to practice our food photography and our fledgling food critique hobby. We were supposed to try Chef Popit’s 5-course dinner, but 2 days before our dinner, he had to beg off because he was hospitalized. So we had to look for another set to try and we chose to go with Chef Rob Pengson’s The Goose Station in W Tower in Bonifacio Global City. They have a menu for the 5-course meal, but for each course, you have choices to pick from. So each of us ended up with different dishes for our individual meals. So here goes my set:
Snacks: Foie Cone, Potato Glass, Truffle Puff, Savory Macaroon
Of the four appetizers, I liked the Foie Cone the best. In the words of Delle, it had the most “conviction”. Maybe I just didn’t get what the others were trying to go for? They were interesting, but didn’t really hit the right notes. My least favorite was the Truffle Puff. There was a certain taste among the melange of flavors that I particularly didn’t like. Not being a true gourmet, I cannot isolate and correctly identify the offending flavor. But the Foie Cone was an explosion of goodness. I also loved the gelatinous texture.
Beet Garden Salad: Beets, Orange, Davao Goat’s Cheese, Walnut Soil, Garden Garnish
For me, the best dish in the whole set. Not only is it magnificently pretty in terms of presentation, but it’s refreshingly delicious as well. That beet gelatin tube in the center, filled with goat’s cheese, was absolutely divine. And the other stuff littering the plate were such an interesting motley of flavors. It was designed to look like a real garden, but I just found that snail shell in one corner of the plate a bit gross. I don’t like the idea of a mollusk sliming about in my salad. Not very appetizing to me. The rest though, was absolutely gorgeous to the senses.
Eggs Benedict: Poached Egg, Hollandaise Foam, Truffle Oil, Bacon Tuile
My least favorite dish. I like eggs, but this threw me off. You’re supposed to mix the whole thing up and scoop it spoon by spoon into your mouth. It looks yummy, but the whole raw egg feel to it turned me off. I was not a big fan of the slimy texture, and it had a lot of half-cooked egg whites, so the feel of that phlegmy texture in my mouth was not a pleasant experience. I like poached eggs, but I’m not a big fan of soft-boiled eggs, which this dish reminded me more of.
Lamb Ribs: Mushroom Gnocchi, Red Wine Sauce, Pistachio
This hefty slab of lamb was pretty good. The meat was practically melting off the bones and it had none of that lamb taste that turns off most people from this type of meat. It was mostly a delicious meal…until the end. I don’t know quite how to explain it, but it had a weird aftertaste. Not the maanggo taste often associated with lamb, but a different weird taste left on the tongue. My friend Lennie had the same comment; she said it’s as if a coating was left on her tongue. It was good while you were eating it, but it left an odd aftertaste.
Yogurt Parfait: Foam, Mixed Berries, Mango, Granola, Mint
Like true yogurt, this dessert was more tart than sweet. Most of it was foam, which I ask coffee shops not to add whenever I buy designer coffee because I’m not fond of it, and it wasn’t the type of dessert I’d break my sugar fast for. If I were eating sugar for the first time in 6 months, this would not be the dessert I’d be saving it for. Not bad, but not great either. I preferred Lennie’s dessert more, the Chocolate Candy Bar.
Just to qualify my credentials, I am neither a chef nor a gourmet, so my opinion is purely on a foodie level. I just like eating a lot and so it’s very possible that my opinion is mostly from a layman’s point of view and should be treated as such. On that defensive note, I must say, in general, I was pretty much disappointed. The presentation is A plus plus, but taste-wise, except for the salad, it was mostly a dud. Just comparing it with our dining experience with the cheaper-priced SOCO dinner, the 5 courses didn’t take us on a journey; it felt more like going around in circles. Many of the dishes had similarly tasting components. And with some, the ingredients didn’t seem to gel with each other to form a single whole. It’s almost as if you can taste each ingredient, as separate from each other, instead of working together to form a unified flavor. And strangely, after the dinner, we all felt light-headed, and Fritzie felt outright dizzy. At first Lennie thought it was the wine in our lamb, but Greg had the Duck Confit and he too was woozy. But the biggest disappointment of all, I guess, was the lack of that satisfied feeling you have after a particularly good meal. We had it at the SOCO dinner, also our lunch in Ugo Bigyan’s place in Laguna. With this dinner, our bellies were full, but our taste buds were left wanting. Of course I leave space that maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe some other more sophisticated palates would appreciate the complex flavors and ingredients that went over my pedestrian taste buds. Many flavors to me tasted queer, if not all-out unpleasant. So as far as form is concerned, it was fantastic, we had a field day shooting the photogenic presentations. But as far as substance is concerned, or to be specific, taste, it wasn’t bad, but it definitely was far from great. Would I come back? Maybe someday, but not anytime soon. For now, I’d rather try first what other chefs have to offer. But this is just me, you might want to try out their dishes for yourself, you might have a totally different call on their cuisine and enjoy it much more than we did. Peace!