ORGASMIC. That word was racing through my head while driving home. The satisfaction I had with the banquet at El Viento was almost similar to that after having sex. But that will be for another post.
El Viento Restaurant and Pool Bar is not as popular as, say Cafe Marco, the hotel’s signature food and beverage outlet and known for its sumptuous, buffet, said to be the best in Cebu and winner, 5th Best Restaurant in the Philippines by the Miele Guide.
This doesn’t mean that El Viento Restuarant and Pool Bar is any lesser. But based on my experience, it can be one of the best affordable restaurants in Cebu City. In fact, one can eat at any Marco Polo Plaza Cebu FnB outlet or order room service with menu from any of its in house restaurants and bar.
Located at the pool bar but just beside Cafe Marco, most of its patrons are in house guests and foreigners who prefer it al fresco and those who want to hit the pool and enjoy the food at the sides. Groups also come here for the in-house pizza and beer as there are nightly bands playing. Or just have a cup of coffee and enjoy the fast and free wifi.
It started to rain just as me and my host Yumny, were seated. After a little chat, soup came on white china. Steaming, the Daily Composition is a broth with minced ingredients. While I would have preferred it less salty, although it was just a little tad salty, I liked its subtle flavor and mild spiciness. The different texture of the tofu, mushrooms, carrots and beef played out well. Its not watery either, just the right consistency.
That’s hefty, I exclaimed when the salad, Bresaola of Beef was served. White wide plate with a shallow depression. It was quite pretty to look at. Four round almost paper-thin pieces of bresaola (salted and air cured beef with minimal marbling from Valtellina, a valley in Lombardi, Italy) neatly arranged, each topped with a slice of poached pear (done with red wine).
Fresh and crisp field greens, including arugula, topped with caramelized balsamic onions then finished with thin strips of sinkamas (yam). Roasted chopped cashews and crisp capers are then sprinkled and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar completes the dish. The salad was quite interesting.
Other than what can be expected with the greens and balsamic vinegar, it was the interplay of saltiness of the bresaola and the cold sweetness of the poached pear that gives this particular salad body. Intersperse this with the greens and it was memorable. Even till now, I can still recall the suppleness of the poached pear in my tongue.
I like thin crust pizzas. And prefer it meaty. When the vegetarian pizza was served, I was not so enthusiastic. But a bite is enough to convince me that vegetarian pizzas are also okay. There were tomatoes, artichoke and olives. Broccoli, cucumber and green pepper. And more.
While the flavor of meat and its cured incarnation gives these well loved dish oomph, it was the interesting texture of the different types of vegetables that you have to be aware of followed by the subtle flavors they add up to the entire pizza experience. And you won’t be disappointed with this one.
But after two slices…
…another dish came.
I remember Yumny telling me before we were seated: I have something for you to try.
I saw the Ultimate pizza burger in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s FB page before and being a burger person, the sight of it was enough to raise my eyebrows. Now, it was infront of me. Mine alone and not for sharing. The piece de resistance. Side dishes are handcut french fries with catsup dip and coleslaw which were just okay.
The pizza burger? Imagine this, first, the pure beef burger patty is par cooked. Next it is grilled. Once done, patty is topped with mozzarella cheese and pieces of salami and subjected again to heat just enough for the cheese to melt. Place this on a bed of lettuce, tomato and onions then serve with sesame seed challah (plaited white leavened bread usually made for Jewish Sabbath) bun top. Usual preparation time is 20-25 minutes. And the wait is all worth it.
I was raving at the juiciness of the well done patty. It’s balanced and well flavored, just as what an honest to goodness burger should be without any pretense. The pizza connection is a nice touch. But I had to slow down and chat in between so that I can finish it, an unthinkable waste for such a good fare if I will leave even a tiny portion.
An hour before, I was at the Lobby Lounge checking out the dessert display. One of the cakes that I was really excited about was April’s Cake of the Month which is Green Tea Mascarpone. Wow. That was enough to make me salivate. Other than that, there were the popular ensaymada (Filipino brioche), chocolate cake and baked cheesecake, which was what was eventually served. (Well, I still have time to go up Marco Polo and get a slice of April’s. – done)
I was already full. But the cheesecake was there. Round, cylindrical. Encrusted with chopped nuts from all sides and at the top. Tempting and taunting me. A ceramic spoon filled with fresh mango puree seem to guard it. You can elect to have a dessert spoon full of the baked cheesecake or drizzle it with the mango puree. Your take.
The cheesecake alone was velvety. Smooth to the tongue, easy on the palate. It’s sweetness is subdued. But a drop or two (or three or four) of the fresh mango puree elevated it to something rich. The syrupy concoction was luscious enough and because its mango, tropical goodness. We paired it with premium Caffé Mauro brewed coffee.
This lunch was something that left me thinking about it for hours! About the satiating experience, about the interplay of texture and flavor, the burger, the smooth cheesecake. Or the bresaola. Looking back, I was glad that the vegetarian pizza was chosen. It was preparing my palate for the grand burger.
Is this something that I will come back again? Definitely! And I will explore other dishes in the El Viento menu. Now, what about the price point? If you think that because Marco Polo is a five star hotel, it has five star prices. But a cursory look will indicate otherwise. You’ll even be surprised.
It’s safe to say it’s upper mid-priced. Case in point? The Ultimate Pizza Burger is pegged at P395. Go to spankingly new Caliburger at the swank Century City Mall, in Kalayaan Ave, Makati City. They have the double cheeseburger served with too salty fries and a drink. Eating it is messy and smaller in size too. Now compare that with this one. P395 for a really good burger, fries and coleslaw. It’s even way better tasting. The baked cheesecake is around P135+. Coffeebean and Tea Leaf as well as Starbucks have comparable items at the same price points.
The venue of El Viento is also great: al fresco, beside the pool. It’s nice to gather with buddies and have pizza and buckets of beer while smoking. You can even enjoy the sight of those bathing in the pool as well as see a portion of the city below. But the ceiling above the covered portion needs to be remedied. It’s frayed at the edges and can be a distraction to the wonderful food experience.
Thanx to Marco Polo Plaza Cebu for the lunch.
El Viento Restuarant and Pool Bar
Nivel Hills, Cebu Veterans Dr, Cebu 6000
Daily 10.00H – 24.00H
Cebu: (63 32) 253 1111
Manila: (63 2) 887 1263