Le Jardin, Bonifacio Global City Review: Savage Garden, A Major DisappointmentMay 2, 2019
- Pamela CortezWords
I try to avoid reviewing restaurants when they’ve just opened, or when I’ve only tried them once. I always try to be objective. In this business, you need to give people a chance. However, if a restaurant is horrible from start to finish, I feel some sort of moral obligation to let them know what needs to be improved. In the case of Le Jardin, every mistake they made didn’t seem like it was due to the fact that they had just opened. From quality of food, to portion size, to deceiving menus, this whole place felt like a trap for those who were curious enough to go there. Le Jardin is one of the most exquisitely laid out dining rooms in Manila. High ceilings, excellent views, Parisian-inspired décor that is tasteful, and not tacky, their interior decorator got it right. Though there is a cheesy display case that is a little out of place in what is meant to be a fine-dining restaurant, it doesn’t detract from the ambiance at all. Once seated, you feel that this could be the start of some exceptional French food, with a menu that reads like an ode to bistro classics. Don’t be fooled, this is the beginning of a dangerous con.
You’re given 3 options. The 4 course menu is at PHP 2800, 5 courses are PHP 3200, and 6 courses and PHP 3600. The menu is divided into hot starters, cold starters, meat, fish, and dessert. Unfortunately, when you try and order 4 courses for your 4-course menu, your waitress won’t let you. Apparently, you only get to choose 3, as your 4-course menu already includes a cheese plate. What if you don’t want a cheese plate? Well, tough luck, this forced cheese course is included on all menu options. The trouble is, the menu says nothing about your 4 courses only actually being 3, and your waitress only informs you when you have finished attempting to order. If they had written it in a way that said one would be ordering 3 courses for 2800, then given the diner a complimentary cheese course, I guarantee that customers would be satisfied, and even impressed.
When their beloved cheese platter was finally plopped down in front of me, our jaws collectively dropped. On the platter, or cheese platito, according to a livid companion, were 3 tiny, tiny pieces of cheese that were easily overpowered by the giant melba toasts beside each. The pieces of cheese were so small that one wouldn’t even fill a standard teaspoon. They are made in house, yes, but to pretend to me that they are 3 different varieties is a complete lie. They are all the same cow cheese, just with different toppings or flavors. I cannot believe that this is mandatory in the 4-course menu I just ordered. I though the cheese course situation couldn’t get any worse, but it did.
We ordered the majority of the menu, but when the appetizers arrived, I immediately knew Le Jardin would only continue to disappoint me. They were miniscule, with the veal tartare as small as a Fita cracker. We were served only two seared scallops, and the lobster salad consisted of half a tiny lobster tail. The scallops, served on a dirty plate, mind you, were rubbery, and had a flavor that meant it was definitely of poor quality. Palate cleansers, described to me as a lemon sorbet, were really blended lemon shakes, with chunks of ice still present.
The mains continued to invalidate the exorbitant prices they were asking for. A passable tuna with foie gras was overshadowed by a sous-vide poulet that was nothing more than honey-basted chicken. While the beef cheeks were tender, the sauce was thin and acidic. Almost everything came with mashed potatoes that were unremarkable in both flavor and texture.
Already angry, I expected desserts to be some sort of respite, as my sweet tooth is very easily satisfied. The lava cake was appropriately fudgy but you could buy similar examples that are larger, tastier, and definitely cheaper anywhere else. The crème brûlée was plain as plain could be. However, it was the peach melba that cemented the fact that I needed to write about this place. Their version of this incredibly simple dessert was far more mediocre than a Jolibee peach-mango pie and sundae combo. It was literally ice cream, covered in canned whipped cream, topped by a singular slice of canned peach, swimming in syrup straight from the very same can. Seriously, believe me. My horrible photos will prove it.
The problem with Le Jardin is, with its strict dress code, fancy interiors, and ridiculous prices, they set a certain standard that customers expect them to meet. You need to be able to live up to what you are advertising. When one comes to dine here, people expect great quality food for whatever they are being charged. At its current state, I don’t know where Le Jardin could fit in the constantly evolving Manila dining scene, where diners’ palates are getting more and more exposed to good food, fresh produce, and great cooking. It is insulting to serve someone who is willing to pay this much canned peaches, and tell them to wear closed shoes while eating it to boot. That’s something I can easily enjoy in my pajamas at home. Something needs to be done about this place. And quick.