Located just right across where I work, I was surprised that there's actually a hidden gem for me to discover. It is said that people normally tend to search far and wide when a beautiful thing is standing so close by that we fail to take notice of it. I've first visited Lola Maria last year for a business meeting. We were surprised that the buffet lunch was pretty extensive and delicious.
Fast forward to a couple of Fridays ago, we were invited to a food tasting dinner at Lola Maria Restaurant. For the first time, I was one of the first to arrive -- well there's no reason for me to be late as I literally just had to cross the street to get there. While waiting for the others, I had a good chat with Ginger Villavicencio, COO of The Legend Villas. She told me how the hotel started and the different plans they have for the restaurant. She also told me that they are open to party take-out platters which she later asked her team to display for us to see.
For this evening, we were to sample eight amazing dishes that were created by various personalities. To help me choose which drink to get, I had three shot glasses of the Dalandan Slush, Pomelo Slush and the Pandan Iced Tea. I slowly tried each and I chose the Pomelo Slush as I love the plup of the pomelo mixed with tangy pineapple juice. Very refreshing!
Dinner began the moment Jane, Richard, Rowena and Abet finally arrived. We began with the Vegetable Quiche (Php. 155 / 5 pieces) which was created by fashion designer Randy Ortiz. I love adding a drop of sour cream before taking a bite. It's filled with minced vegetables encased in a crunchy pasty crust. A light and healthy start to our meal.
This was followed with a teeny-tiny Prawn Cake (Php. 225 / 6 pieces) sampler. I remember Rowena commenting that she liked this one as she can taste the shrimp bits instead of just biting into a mashed-up filling. I love the addition of Hoisin sauce giving it a very Oriental feel. Loved it so much, I went for seconds.
I've mentioned a million times before how much I love potato chips and all the more I adore homemade potato chips. My eyes widen when the platter carrying the Fish Pinipig (Php. 210 / 6 pieces) with Lola Maria's homemade chips was placed in front of us. Huge crunchy potato chips that I love. How I wish I can bring a bag home. The Fish Pinipig which is the creation of acress Iza Calzado was pretty interesting. I love how light the aoili was and the fish was sprinkled with paprika giving it more attitude.
To cleanse our palate, we had Calamansi sherbet. Sour and cold, my taste buds are ready for the next dishes up ahead!
Up next was the favorite dish of fellow blogger Anton Diaz -- the Cocido (Php. 360) which is a bowl of beef ribs stewed in rich tomato sauce and cooked with chorizo and vegetables. It comes with a saucer of roast eggplant dip that I liked very much. The sauce was very rich and the ribs literally falling off the bone. No wonder Anton loves this dish! You should have it with rice to truly appreciate the thick sauce and filling.
Following the rich Cocido was my personal favorite -- Garlic & Rosemary Rib Eye (Php650). To be honest, I prefer seafood and chicken over beef anyday. I'm not really a steak fan and I'd leave this persona to my dear husband who appreciate a good slice of beef. However, this is probably one plate of steak I'd love to have every single day. Imagine a generous slice of beef marinated and grilled with fresh garlic and rosemary and served with your choice of mashed potato or garlic rice (I got both!). I love it that it has a small amount of fat adding more flavor to the meat. The lean portion was tender and can easily be sliced using a regular knife. We also couldn't decide where the garlic rice is better than the mashed potatoes or vice versa. Either sidings you choose, you'll surely enjoy it to the bone. Note also that its reasonably priced. Perfect for a quick steak dinner.
I can't believe we've gone through 6 courses already however since it was raining hard outside and we were having a great time sharing stories and giving more foodie tips to Ginger, none of us were ready to call it a night. It's a good thing, Lola Maria still has a lot to offer.
After our plate of steak, out came dessert. A trio of wonderful things consisting of the Ensaymada Pudding, Ube & Langka (Jackfruit) Panna Cotta and the Fried Suman (Sticky Rice) at Tsokolate (Chocolate). I tried the Fried Suman at Tsokolate (Php. 155) first and I was surprise to enjoy the soft sticky rice coated in crunchy deep-fried batter. After this, I had the Ube & Langka Panna Cotta (Php. 120) that reminds me of a glass of Halo-halo. True enough, Ginger told us that it's Lola Maria's way of interpreting our favorite local dessert. The highlight of the platter was the Ensaymada Pudding (Php. 80). Imagine this well-loved pastry on a ramekin baked with soft egg custard at the bottom and topped with shaved quezo de bola. You couldn't get more homey than that!
I'm glad that Lola Maria Restaurant is just a quick hop away. It's a perfect choice for a romantic date away from the hustle and bustle of Makati or Quezon City. It's a great destination for business meetings too -- perhaps you can seal the deal over a plate of juicy rib-eye.
Lola Maria Restaurant is located at The Legend Villas, Pioneer cor Madison streets in Mandaluyong City. Call them at 702-2793.