Monday, September 9, 2013

Aubergine (an extemely long rant)

"WTF happened to Aubergine? What used to be a high class fine dining restaurant has now become a mockery of waitresses that do not know the menu, speaks like they used to work in a carinderia and even insists you get the more expensive menu items. Sheesh. — feeling annoyed at Aubergine Restaurant Patisserie."

Yes.  This was my Facebook wall post yesterday.  I wrote that post shortly after ordering, and you would think that things had ended there and we had a great time after the ordering brouhaha.  The answer is no.  HUGE NO.  Warning:  this will be a long and angry post, so please bear with me because I just want to vent and get it out of my system (and yes, tell the whole world about it at the same time!).  

Going back, I'll start from the very beginning.  The family decided to have our lunch in Aubergine after quite some time of not going there.  It's one of my brother's favorite restaurants and we all can see why.  On the times that we dined there, the service was impeccable and the food was superb.  Add to that the cozy and romantic ambiance, and I can see why Aubergine has always been on the list as one of the "top romantic restaurants" or "top fine dining restaurants".  

Fast forward to yesterday lunch, we arrived at 12:45PM and was promptly seated.  The first thing we noticed was that we were the only ones there and the air conditioning was hot, so we kindly requested them to turn up the aircon.  After deciding what to get, Dad ordered the caesar salad and the cream of roasted pumpkin.  Brother wanted something light, so he opted for the organic arugula leaves in balsamic vinaigrette, which came with smoked duck breast.  He doesn't like duck, so he requested for the duck to be changed into grilled chicken fillet, to which "Lisa" said yes to.  Mom wanted the beef and seabass composed, while I had the veal cheek, short ribs and oxtail trio with an additional slice of foie gras.  Note that before I decided on the veal cheek, short ribs and oxtail trio, I specifically asked what their bestsellers are for the meat and poultry section, and our server "Lisa" suggested the ribeye (grills section).  I said I didn't want anything from the grills section, so she suggested beef and seabass.  I told her I didn't want seafood either, so she said why not get the surf and turf.  Huh?  Surf and turf is not seafood?  By then, I kind of got where she was heading: she was suggesting all the expensive items on the menu!  So I told her that surf and turf is also seafood and I specifically said no seafood, to which she replied "Wala na.  Yan lang bestsellers namin." ("That's it.  Those are our only bestsellers.")  WOW.   

After we ordered,  we were served complimentary bread.  Since our family all wanted the soft roll, they ran out when it was my Dad's turn.  I couldn't believe my ears when "Lisa" insisted that he get what's available.  The nerve.  Great service huh?  My mom got fed up and asked her if it would be too much if she return to the kitchen and get some more.  "Lisa" then said that it would take another three minutes to heat the bread to which my mom replied "Fine.  We can wait."  What a lazy ass.  I can't believe a restaurant as prestigious as Aubergine would hire someone as incompetent as her.

After quite some time, we were served the complimentary appetizer.  30 minutes passed, and only Dad's caesar salad and soup came out.  Note that there were about 13 chefs inside the kitchen (I counted!) and we were the only ones in the whole restaurant.   Constant follow ups did nothing, and we were actually planning to leave if the dishes do not come out by 2PM.  Finally, at 1:50PM, our orders arrived.  We thought everything would be fine by then but no again.  Because "Lisa" messed up the orders.  My additional slice of foie gras became an order of foie gras salad, while Brother's salad became a whole chicken dish without a single piece of vegetable in sight.  Double WOW.  By then my brother was already fuming mad and refused to eat anything.  Do also note that "Lisa" was nowhere in sight after the bread incident.  In her place, a male server was the one who did all the serving and attending.

So after all the obstacles we went through, I think you guys might be interested with how the food turned out.  So here are my thoughts on the food:
Truffled cauliflower pannacotta
 This complimentary appetizer was a nice twist.  No one would think about putting cauliflower and pannacotta together, but it was a pleasant surprise.  The truffle scent was strong too, which I love.

Caesar Salad

"With Cointreau and beetroot marinated Norwegian salmon, croûtons, wax boiled egg and Grana Padano cheese" 

The salad had a fishy smell, so it's safe to assume that the ingredients are not fresh.  It was so bad that Dad couldn't finish it and no one wanted to touch it.

Cream of roasted pumpkin

"With roasted walnuts and crispy bacon flakes"

I tried this and found it too diluted.  Too much cream (or milk?) and too little pumpkin.

Apple cucumber sherbet
The apple cucumber sherbet is also complimentary, but what's funny is that the sherbet was served right after the pannacotta, but in reality it is supposed to cleanse the palate.  Brother remarked that "there is nothing to cleanse because we're not even served anything yet" to which I fully agree. 

Veal cheek, short ribs and oxtail

"Barbequed braised US Angus beef short ribs on potato mousseline and slow cooked veal cheek in Port wine jus with oxtail ravioli
Grilled Portobello mushroom and honey glazed carrots"

This was my dish.  While the short ribs and veal cheek were very tender, they tasted the same.  This is contrary to the description they put on the menu, where one is supposed to be barbecued and the other, cooked in wine.  But the most disappointing among the three was the oxtail ravioli.  The oxtail inside the ravioli tasted like corned beef and the ravioli itself was tough.  

Beef and Sea bass Composed
 "Oven roasted US Black Angus striploin on potato mash and zucchini-mushroom salpicon with Madeira jus and Sauce Béarnaise
Grilled Chilean sea bass on a spiced fennel-apple compote, lemon beurre blanc and tagliatelle pasta"

Mom's dish.  The striploin was delicious.  It was cooked perfectly (she ordered it medium well).  But the sea bass is another story.  It was thin and overcooked.  I don't know how that could happen because it's almost impossible to mess up sea bass but somehow they did.  Bravo! (insert slow clap)

Pan seared slice of Rougie duck foie gras

Finally, as if to make up for all the dishes they messed up, my slice of foie gras was a piece of heaven in a plate.

But hold on, I'm not done yet.  After all the mishaps, we expected that the chef would at the very least come out and apologize, or that they give us a discount or complimentary anything, but heck no.  We got nothing.  Zero.  None.  Nada. Zilch.  And too add to that, the executive chef was not present.  Nor was the general manager.  Now I ask you, how are you supposed to run a restaurant, especially on a Sunday, when all the important people are missing?

My rating?  I'd give a -6 out of 5 for the service and a puny 2.5 out of 5 stars for the food.  And that's already being generous.  Worst service ever!  Felt like the whole restaurant was a joke.  A freaking circus.  I almost wish that someone would come out and say "You've been punk'd!"  But no such thing happened.  What a waste of money, time and energy.  I felt as if we've been robbed and wanted to sue them for emotional distress.  Aubergine, what the f*ck happened? (I'm sorry, dear readers, pardon my language)  It would be safe to say (and to quote Taylor Swift's song) that we are never, ever getting back together.  Aubergine, our family is breaking up with you.  Forever. 

And before I forget, from the time we got there till the time we left, we were the only table in the restaurant (surprise, surprise).  Also, the air conditioning never got cold (after three times of asking for it to be turned up) and we had an uninvited guest from start to finish:  a pesky fly.

Aubergine is at 32nd and 5th Building, 5th Avenue cor. 32nd Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

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