Chef du Partie By The Same Owners of Mamou Offers Full Flavors Packed in Small PlatesSeptember 18, 2014
Metro Manila spoils the diner with choice: the city is now more than just a melting pot of cultures; it is a bowl overflowing with everything from international franchises, to comfort food pubs, to specialized restaurants. This challenges each new restaurant to introduce something that will last or stay with its target market or at least survive in the dining scene. Chef du Partie is one new business that steps into this expanding scene with the concept of small plates and a global table.
Three well-known women in the industry, Malou Fores of Mamou, Katrina Alcantara-Kuhn of Mesclun Bistro and Chuck’s Deli, and Kristine de Gallego-Locsin of (the now closed) LU, bring their love for New York, Paris, and Manila in Chef du Partie or CDP. The interior tries to marry the foreign cities with its clean, gray walls, simple tables and chairs, and the ceiling’s ornamentation. The al fresco seating is also just as cozy given its location in Powerplant, but it might not be as comforting during a storm or during moments of high traffic along the road.
All items on CDP’s menu are served in small plates, a concept that draws from the way tapas and antipasti are presented. Small plates are applied to all kinds of dishes at CDP, from pastas, salads, to seafood and meat dishes. The items on the menu vary and come from a wide range of cuisine influences, as the restaurant intends to serve a global table to its customers.
For our visit we ordered the Tripa (PHP 545) and Pig Ear Fries (PHP 195) as our appetizers, and the Black Stew (PHP 455) and Sancocho (PHP 595) as our main viands. The Tripa kicked our meal off to a good start. The tripe pieces were soft enough to chew, without being too gummy. The grana padano’s complimented the sourness of the tomato stew. The mint gremolata added a nice zing in between bites of the tripe stewed in tomato, and the result was a medley among all the ingredients.
The Pig Ear Fries are probably more familiar to the Filipino palate, but this dish has received more popularity recently, across hip dining rooms in the USA. Pinoys will enjoy the crispy crunch of this appetizer and the slightly acidic touch as one dips each ear into the anchovy vinaigrette. Since the ears are deep fried, this dish succeeded in being a small plate for sharing.
Unfortunately, the main dishes disappointed in both size and taste. Although we knew that the plates would be small, the servings we got seemed too meager against the PHP 500-600 cost. The Black Stew is basically baby squid in ink, and the menu differentiates it from the more familiar adobo pusit only with the inclusion of chorizo and aioli bread. But we couldn’t taste much of the chorizo and the stew itself was bland. The aioli bread ended up tasting better than the stew.
The Sancocho, a Latin American dish that’s traditionally a soup or stew with meat and vegetables, is presented in CDP with chicken, beef, and pork parts on top of brown rice and flavored with avocado salsa. The menu description states pork stew as part of the Sancocho, but the serving we got was dry and consisted only of the meat and the vegetables. The meat parts were too salty, but the avocado salsa was able to contrast the saltiness. The dish also seemed too large for a small plate: the chicken and pork parts looked crowded in the bowl and the limited space made it difficult to cut and divide the parts among us. The amount was also shockingly too small against its PHP 595 (almost PHP 600!) price, even if shared among two or three people.
Looking at the overall experience, CDP did not disappoint in terms of taste and the ambience. The staff was very friendly, prompt, and accommodating. Some of the dishes missed a note or two in flavor, but the Tripa and Pig Ears Fries were worth it. But the total amount your bill can reach, especially considering the serving amount, could throw off customers who are after serving size and quality. The PHP 300 to PHP 600 price range is normal in other restaurants, but then, they don’t hold back when serving the viand, side dishes, and sauces. Time will only tell how the small plates concept will fare against the Metro’s growing dining scene.