Sunday, February 28, 2016

Solstice Bistro and Boulangerie: Rockwell's Newest Must-Experience Restaurant

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Your Pambansang Blogger ng Pilipinas was among the very few select bloggers who got an invite to taste the dishes being served at one of the newly opened restaurants located in Rockwell, Makati city. The restaurant is fairly new and opened just around the last quarter of last year (2015), and being just a few months old, they are still at a stage where they are experimenting on their food offerings including serving sizes and presentations.

When a good friend scheduled me to visit after a scheduled affair attending the opening day of the four-day Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, I immediately Googled for Solstice Bistro and Boulangerie, the name of the restaurant, so I can get a peak of what they are all about. It is a modern European restaurant concept that is now making a noise as one of the must experienced restaurant in Rockwell.

Solstice is actually all about the astrological transitions that happen in June (summer solstice - the longest day of the year) and December (winter solstice - the shortest day of the year). This is what inspired the Solstice Bistro and Boulangerie to be all about transitions.

Surprisingly, only one blog about the restaurant existed, and so it was an honor to be among the second group to dine at this particularly considered high-end establishment. This is where I've learned that it was newly opened and owned by two prominent restaurateurs namely Joseph Assad of One Way Restaurant, and Jack Rodriguez, the innovator behind the Bistro Group (TGI Fridays, Italiannis) and Global Restaurant Concepts (CPK, IHOP), and a third partner from the Antonino family.

Here's a special video presentation of my dining experience at Solstice Bistro and Boulangerie - Rockwell's Newest Must-Experience Restaurant

However, according to an article I read, "both owners have moved on from their previous projects and invested on this new homegrown 8 Rockwell restaurant. The restaurant menu will start with One Way dishes and then evolve as they feature known chefs every three months, to showcase their cuisine for a week and leave a few recipes. They will also feature Indian food on Mondays and Mediterranean cuisine on Tuesdays."

I was early arriving at the restaurant because I was avoiding the rush hour where traffic is beyond tolerable, so I decided to take photos of the place already. It was also intentional to be there while there's still sunlight so I can take photos and videos during daytime.I'm sure the restaurant looks a lot different when night time approaches.

The manager, Gian Antonino, was probably bewildered, on seeing why I was taking photos of his restaurant. I only asked permission from his staff since I thought he was just one of the customers because he was seated at one of the tables talking with one of the chefs when I arrived.

The restaurant was indeed modern and stylish plus superb in its interiors. It has a second floor for a few more tables and a function area. An elevated portion near the upper portion of the stairs was a place for the piano and other musical instruments. They say they play the piano during lunch and dinner time, and additional acts with other instruments during night time. True enough, I've witnessed their blind pianist perform, and the musical trio who serenaded the diners while they ate.

There were lots of photos displayed at a certain part of the restaurant. These photos were all from the grand opening night where selected guests were invited..

Th place looked fabulously stunning during nighttime. The sophistication exudes and can be felt in all four corners, and all levels, of the restaurant. Add the music coming from the pianist completes the experience. When it's time for the serenading trio to perform, the place becomes totally pleasing to all senses.

I also met Chef Richard Go and Chef Casper Al Kabri who were all very accommodating. But they hesitated to grant an interview since they are also quite new with the restaurant, and is not yet very familiar with the restaurant's inner workings.

A few more minutes of waiting and finally my wait was over because I saw Kaye coming in all dressed in white. After a few more minutes, the two owners also arrived with similar white outfits. I was not informed white should be the color of the night. Lol! I should have dressed appropriate to the color theme.

Anyway, after a bit of introductions and socializing, we had to wait a few more minutes for another blogger who was caught in a traffic jam - that horrific situation in the Philippines which would never be resolved until they identify the real solution to the devastating transport problem. Everyone keeps saying we need more mass transport vehicles but the DOTC is yet to deliver its promise.

When Mars finally arrived, it was time to bring out the dishes already, and the two owners were very eager in serving us and explaining their concoctions that were one by one coming out from the kitchen. As usual, take photos first, then eat afterwards. In my case, take videos as well so I can come up with a video presentation too.

2 soups, 2 salads, 4 appetizers, 4 mains and 4 desserts. Whew! Those are what our group ate during the restaurant visit. It is amazing how we were able to go through this particular dining experience yet my buddy Kaye continue to be slim and sexy. She must have done a lot of workouts after that dinner night.

Wild Mushroom Soup in Sourdough
First dish that was served was the Wild Mushroom Soup served in a bowl of Sourdough. Now this not my fist time to encounter such a presentation in serving soup but this soup is definitely better than the previous experience.

French Onion Soup
The French Onion Soup would come in second choice as my preferred soup but its a lot more filling (if we won't include the sourdough of the Wild Mushroom Soup) yet not as grand in presentation. I love the experience of eating the sourdough while you slowly sip the first soup. However, the second soup offers a thicker variation so you have to chew the to finish the serving.

Summer Solstice
Winter Solstice
I should discuss first the salads served even though they came later. We were given the Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice salads. My vote goes to the Winter Solstice as its a lot more of my liking having tropical fruits like grapes and strawberries plus the nuts that made it taste a lot better.

Beef Salpicao

Cheese Pizza

Squid and Chorizo

Crunchy French Fries
Appetizers served were the Squid and Chorizo, the Beef Salpicao, the Crunchy French Fries and the Cheese Pizza. All were satisfactory yet the Beef Salpicao stands out as my favorite. The Squid and Chorizo comes as my next choice, then the Crunchy Fries comes in third, and lastly the Cheese Pizza which I beleive needs more cheese if we really want to call it a Cheese Pizza.

Beef Medallion

Braised Beef

Lamb Chops

Sundried Tomato Pasta
The main dishes were outstanding! The Lamb Chops would obviously stand out as it is never everyday we get to dine on tender lamb meat that easily gets off from the bone. The taste is also remarkable as you'll never grow weary eating up the whole serving.

The Braised Short Ribs similarly strikes a fancier mood because even though its similarly cooked and both also comes with similar half-cooked veggies (to retain their nutritious value) on the sides, and mashed potatoes instead of rice. Why, it's all edible with no bone to burden your plate. I imagine my plate all clean because I would literally eat everything up except the plate of course.

They also served us the Beef Medallion due to a special request from Kaye. It was something not yet on their menu as they offered it as a special dish for Valentines Day. I do believe they should immediately include it as among the highly recommended main dishes.

The Sundried Tomato Pasta was cooked Al Dente and deserves an applause. Though the serving looked so small especially when its served with a huge bowl, those huge pair of garlic breads at both sides make up for the little pasta dish that's however big in taste.

Who cares if they don't know what this dessert is called. You might also forget your name once you've tasted and seen the "surprise" inside

Lemon Merengue

Pistachio Sans Rival

Turtle Pie
A meal is never complete without the desserts, and Solstice has plenty to choose from as they have a trusted provider that delivers them quality desserts.

We tried their Pistachio Sans Rival which was my favorite among the four we tried. It may not be as good as the one being sold at another famous restaurant in Dumaguete where Sylvannas rocks, but it was sure better than what you'll usually find in Manila.

The Turtle Pie was a heavy duty candidate for sweetness overload. If you're a sweet tooth then this one is great for you.

The Lemon Merengue very well carries its "Lemon" part of its name as I can truly taste the "lemony" experience. This one is never tiring to eat especially if you would pair it with some hot tea of any kind.

Of course, you need to wash them all down with your choice of drinks served in the most coolest and colorful way. You can pick among the many choices but I suggest you listen to their recommendations as they are never wrong.

The experience is accentuated with the romantic ambiance brought about by the live soothing music setting the mood to a high level. I rarely see restaurants offering the same classy and appealing effort to seemingly pamper their customers, as many are just setting up fast food chains for bigger returns yet lower expectations.

What the restaurateurs here are doing is offering their customers a dreamy episode like that seen in movies depicting glamour and high-end living. After all, the average cost per dish is around 400 so it's bound to have the expected luxurious vibe and aura.

If you want to reward yourself or your loved ones with sumptuous food that were meant to satisfy even the cravings of kings and queens, then go no further. You will be delighted with what Solstice Bistro and Boulangerie has to offer, coupled with their impeccable service as personally witnessed during our dinner night. Who knows, the owners might even sit down with you when they're at the restaurant for a visit, and they get to add you on Facebook as one of their friends.

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