Sunday, March 09, 2008

CAV, Newest, Hippest Wining and Dining Place in Manila

CAV, the newest wine bar and restaurant located on Bonifacio High Street takes its inspiration from "cave" which is French for cellar. Owned by Markus Gfeller of "Grassi's" fame, CAV promises an evening of great food and wine served in the most interesting manner.

I first heard of this place from my friend Griffith Go who is part of the team that brought the wine MACHINE into the country and set it up at CAV. My students at the world-class ENDERUN college were also raving about this new dining hot spot in Manila. When the kids from Enderun rave about you, you must really be good.

So H and I decided to have his birthday dinner over there a few nights ago and we were very happy with what we found. The interiors were posh and elegant but not intimidating. The food, coming from the genius that is Markus Gfeller did not disappoint. The place though goes by a PRIX FIXE menu which means that diners must choose from a three or four course meal, nothing less. Average price therefore, minus the wines would be at 1,000 to 1,500 per person at a minumum.

I started off with the Heart of Organic Baby Romaine with Jamon Crisps, Caper Berried and Truffle Aioili. It was sheer delight as I slowly bit into the succulent greens and crunchy bits of young jamon. H got a young Arugula salad with watermelon tomato confit and parmesan crisp. He was equally delighted with his selection as he munched on the start of what seemed to look like a fabulous birthday meal.

We then followed this up with a Salmon Pastrami with pistou and sweet corn emulsion for me and a Potage Parmentier with Greygoose vodka and lumpfish caviar for him. For the main course, I had a Grilled Tuna steak with Tapenade spread, Arugula mash and herbal tomato broth. He opted for the Crispy Skinned Salmon Darne with Mediterranean Saffron Pimiento Nage. I wasn't too joyful over my tuna steak but that could just be me because I prefer tuna cooked in a different way or taken raw like sashimi. There were other entrees to choose from like lamb, pork or beef but since I was already stuffed from having a feast at Las Paellas the night before, I opted to take something lighter.

The main attraction at CAV though, for me, personally, is the wine-vending machine for lack of anything better to call it. It's quite amazing really and a novelty for us Manila diners. You get, what is called a table card, put it into the machine, and voila, it dispenses the wine in the perfect temperature, straight into your glass! There are 24 varieties to choose from, usually 16 red and 8 white. You can opt to get a tasting portion which is approximately 25 ml, half a glass at 75 ml and a full glass which is around 125 ml. The prices are displayed immediately when you make your choice, so there are no surprises.

I must tell you that the wine selection is pretty impressive! These guys know their job and do it well. I tried out a Shiraz that my students had told me about called "The Dark Side of the Moon" and it was terrific. However, since I'm really a white wine woman, I chose a Chardonnay from the Beringer winery which was excellent.

If you're looking for something different to try on a date night, or just want to try something new, CAV is the place to go. Do make reservations though as the place is packed almost every night of the week. The guest list there looks like the pages of "Town & Country" or "The Philippine Tatler" but there are also a lot of regular folks like myself who are just plain curious foodies or wine enthusiasts.

Right next door to CAV is the newly built The Spa with snazzy, sleek interiors and whose treatment range is fantastic way to end the night after a great meal with wine. That however, will be reserved for a different blog entry, sometime soon.

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