Everything is new once again in the Peninsula Manila’s fabled fine dining restaurant
The Peninsula Manila has seen it all, and everyone has been seen in The Peninsula. For over four decades --the hotel celebrates its 41st year this September 14 --- it has been the prime destination for people watching and star gazing. It’s impossible not to observe at least a couple of showbiz celebrities, usually more, enjoying the Pen’s famous Halo-Halo as afternoons lean into evenings, and deeper into the night, for cocktails and coffee, all the way to the wee small hours of the morning. Everyone, at every time, loves the opulent lobby of the “Grand Dame of Makati”, defined by its twin marble staircases and the sunburst sculpture by National Artist Napoleon Abueva.
The Peninsula has been witness to more than just the affairs of the rich and famous and the plotting of politicians. Ten years ago, a few weeks before Christmas, gunfire erupted in the hotel, and it seemed that even before the smoke had cleared, the Pen was back in business, none the worse for wear, save for a couple of bullet holes, souvenirs of a dramatic siege.
I’ve been to the Peninsula innumerable times: I’ve danced the waltz in many a debutante’s cotillion, emceed every kind of event, attended dozens of wedding receptions, but every single time, I still feel a tingle whenever I walk into the hotel; a sense of anticipation of things to come, a subtle recognition of all the memories at this landmark. The past and the future, blending into the present. Magic is always in the air.
The anticipation is at its highest whenever I dine at Old Manila, the hotel’s signature outlet. It’s been at the Peninsula from the very start; it has undergone a few facelifts since, but its intrinsic character has never, and will never change: a bastion of gourmet dining, with one of the outstanding wine selections in the world. The restaurant has never looked better. The dark wood panels have given way to Art
Deco geometrics; the brown hues replaced by brighter cream tones, complemented by the stunning large-scale black and white photographs by Francisco Guerrero.
And the food. The glorious food, legacies from the storied line of chefs that have built upon each other’s strengths since 1976. A few months ago, for the very first time in its rich history, a Filipino was appointed as Chef de Cuisine, and for many of its loyal patrons, the restaurant, now defined by the culinary swagger of Chef Allan Briones, is the best it has ever been. Four decades on, Old Manila is once again, brand new.
I FEEL A TINGLE WHENEVER I WALK INTO OLD MANILA; AN ANTICIPATION OF THINGS TO COME, AND A SUBTLE RECOGNITION OF ALL THE MEMORIES AT THIS LANDMARK.
1 Old Manila Table Setting
2 Foie Gras Torchon with Salted Date Caramel
3 John Stone Irish Grass-Fed Angus Tomahawk
4 Davao Chocolate with Pilinut Carabao Milk Ice Cream
5 Miso-glazed Chilean Sea Bass with Aubergine cooked three ways
6 Old Manila Interiors 05