Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tourne by Chef Sandralyn Hataway at The Fort Strip

I am pretty blessed to have friends who share my passion and love for food. We all get excited over new food finds and our radars get stronger as we discover newly opened restaurants all over town together.

After enjoying our first ever meet-up over delicious President's Steak *drool* at Myron's Place, it was time for another dinner out with my two favorite food bloggers Jin and Leslie and this time, it's Jin's treat.

I first heard about Tourne from fellow blogger Richard who dined there a few days before our visit when he went with his talented and lovely wife Irene and Sister-in-Law. Richard has been raving about the Southern Airline Chicken saying that it is so delicious, in fact it's "the best tasting chicken breast he has ever had". As much as I was curious to try this amazing chicken dish, what held me back was the fact that it was served with cornbread stuffing. Sadly, I am not allowed to eat corn except when it's mashed or cooked polenta-style.

Still, I was so excited to try Tourne that I even made sure to have a light lunch to make space for dinner.

tourne fort strip

I arrived at The Fort Strip at exactly 7PM and as I entered the parking lot, I saw Jin and Leslie already inside the restaurant. I joined them shortly and the stories and laughter never stopped from that point on. Looking around the restaurant, I loved the blue and white plaid table cloth which also matched the tiny patches on our table napkins. It reminds me of a sun-shiney country home.

tourne fort strip

While going through the menu and listening to Leslie and Chef Sandralyn discuss the special meal allowed for Leslie's very strict diet (which, by the way, has been sooooo successful I was amazed at how slim she already is now! *woot woot*), Jin and I enjoyed munching on the complimentary Tofu Chips with Salsa served to us. I love how refreshing the freshly-made salsa which perked up the mild flavor of the healthy chips. We loved it so much we asked for a second round which they graciously accommodated.

tourne salad

After perusing the menu, I chose the Tourne Salad (Php 228) for starters. What attracted me was the inclusion of crusted goat cheese and candied Bicol pili nut. I love cheese and the more cheese a dish has, the higher the probability I'll order it. The balsamic vinaigrette was very light that it went well with the rest of the salad. Little did I know that this was the start of my pili-loaded dinner.


Chef Sandralyn is proud to patronize all local products. From her meats to the teeny-tiny ingredients for her salads and desserts are mostly purchased from local farmers and suppliers. For her, this ensures the quality of her food as she is an advocate for organic, non-artificial processes when growing chickens, pork and veggies.

tourne chicken fajitas pizza

After enjoying the salad, Jin and I shared a Chicken Fajita Pizza (Php. 198). The crust is extra-thin as it's made of tortilla wrapper and I enjoyed the strong flavor of cilantro, bell peppers and kesong puti. I had a bit too much of the pizza that on my nth slice, I saw a curly black hair stuck in between the crust and topping. Yikes! We immediately called the attention of the kitchen staff who hurriedly took that slice out. Sadly, it took a while for anyone to apologize and to make up for that "hairy" experience. Better keep your eyes open at all times!

For my main course, I took Chef Sandralyn's advice and got the Pili Encrusted Tilapia (Php. 270+). I love fish and it wasn't difficult to convince me to get this over the meat or pasta dishes. My fish came in a huge plate making it quite a challenge to get a good shot.

tourne pili crusted tilapia

I love how it was lightly breaded not making me feel guilty after finishing the entire thing. Sadly though, I can't taste the pili which was said to be part of the breading of the fish. What I enjoyed though and I highly recommend that you should try (or if it's not available then you should sweetly ask the Chef to prepare this for you) is the garlic mashed potato. I'm not the type who would save the best thing on my plate for last but this time I did because I just want to savor every single scoop of the mashed potato and I even let it linger in my mouth for few more seconds.

Leslie was right as she took a tiny piece of my fish and said that it was quite lacking in flavor but take this with some garlic mashed potato and swirl it around the red beet coulis then your taste buds will surely be in for a treat. I ate basically everything on my plate save for the three baby carrots which I am not really fond of (Bugs Bunny, they're all yours!). However, it would be nice if the Chef can add a creamy sauce on the side for those who prefers a richer flavor for this dish.

Checking with my dinner mates, I found out that Leslie's Southern Airline Chicken was quite tough and so was Jin's Spiced Chicken. Could it be because of the part that was used? However, Richard had all raves given that they made use of chicken breast for his dish as well. Needless to say, they were not quite satisfied and this calls for dessert which I hope could save the night.

The Sweet Stuff

tourne pineapple cloud

Chef Sandralyn came to the rescue and brought a plate of Pineapple Cloud cake which was complements from the kitchen. I eyed the tiny piece of cake covered in white icing with caution. Just as much as I can't have a single kernel of corn, I'm also not allowed to take in icing as well. The story of my very picky stomach. *sigh*

Carefully, I sliced the cake and tried the chiffon-like filling first. I loved how you can immediately taste the pineapple and after Chef told me to go ahead and try the icing, I took another bite with the icing this time and noticed how light it was as opposed to the heavy sweet cream used in commercial cakes. Still, I proceeded with caution but managed to finished off my share. Yum!

tourne fresh mangoes

Chef was truly supportive of Leslie's strict diet and not wanting her to miss out on dessert, Leslie got a plate filled with sliced mangoes which she generously shared with us.

tourne pili tart

Lastly, we also tried the Pili Pie (Php. 108). This is made of USDA Organic Coconut Syrup and pili nuts from Bicol. This was definitely love at first bite as we enjoyed slice after slice of the pie which was perfectly held together by the flaky tart crust and the generous filling of pili nuts. I am definitely making a mental note to buy lots of pili nuts when I find myself in the Bicol region.

We also tried the Roaster Juan's Tiramisu but it was quite a disaster that luckily, we had this before the Pili Pie which totally saved dessert for us.

Tourne is a very new restaurant that obviously is still experiencing some growing pains. There are still a couple of hits and misses when it comes to the food but what amazes me is Chef Sandralyn's dedication to make things right and the fact that she's a strong advocate for our local produce that I truly admire her for.

Tourne changes their menu every two weeks thus giving us more reason to go back and to give it another chance hopefully with better dishes from salads down to desserts.

Till our next dinner Jin and Leslie, this time it will be on ME! :)

Related post:

Tourne by Jin Loves to Eat
Dinner at Tourne by Shoot First Eat Later

Visit Tourne at Unit 5 and 6, The Fort Strip, 7th Ave. cor. 26th St., Bonifacio Global City. Call them at 555-0267.

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