First off, a very happy birthday to Aldous! Looking young pa rin because of all the food trips and travels! :p
We celebrated his birthday with a blog event in SOLSTICE by Ilustrado!
Located in Rockwell, you will find that Solstice has the upscale vibe but homey dining experience. Once you enter into the restaurant, you are immediately greeted by smiling staff and live music on the second floor. During the day, it sets a well-lit ambiance that's perfect for lunch dates with friends or workmates. Come night, it has the bolder and more intimate atmosphere for special dinners with family or your significant other.
I love how they took advantage of the space, with a bar and adequate space between tables for room to move around. Also, there is a second floor that holds a private function room, perfect for small gatherings (It fits 10-20 people and there is a fee of 1,000 PHP per head, which is consumable).
We got to meet the partners and talk with the staff, with Chef Bernice D. Pimentel explaining the dishes and how they complement well with the restaurant's vision.
Solstice serves Filipino-Spanish dishes. They also have a wide array of Italian and American dishes suitable for the international palate, but they always make sure to add the Filipino-Spanish flavor into it. The dishes I'll be reviewing are part of their new menu, which was released in their Manila branch (Ilustrado) last Monday, and will be out in Rockwell next week.
Once we took photos and talked with the partners, we settled down and dug in!
We started the night with appetizers, which was the Baked Eggplant in Filo (420 PHP). The baked (and skinned eggplant) blended perfectly together with the feta cheese and black olives. Once you pop it in your mouth, you feel how smooth the consistency is. The Filo case is thin with a crunchy top, which I appreciate because you get a lot of consistency when eating it. Plus, the thinness of the case makes me appreciate the eggplant filling even better (without it falling apart!).
The next appetizer was Truffled hummus with homemade sourdough pita and crudites. But what makes the hummus different is that instead of an olive oil drizzle, they used truffle oil. All I can say is that it truly made me an eve bigger fan of hummus, and eating it is quite addicting! The consistency is great, as it isn't too liquid, but still easy to dip or spread it to your chosen base. I love it with the pita bread or the crunchy carrots and cucumbers!
We had a Norwegian Salmon Ceviche Poke, which is a mix of Hawaiian and Japanese style. It had a mix of corn, carrots, peas, brown rice, tuna, seaweed, and sprouts. It was actually my first time tasting a poke bowl (yikes!), and glad to say I loved it. It was very fresh and I swear I felt a beach or summer vibe because I could taste the sea!
As for drinks, I ordered a coconut-water and strawberry juice (220 PHP). It came in a mason jar and topped with basil. Very healthy and very delicious. The semi-sweet coconut water matched with the tangy strawberry juice and the hint of basil finishes it, making it a less-indulgent yet sweet and refreshing drink.
On to the main course! These are the featured signature dishes by Ilustrado, and I was NOT disappointed!
The Kapampangan Sisig was delicious either crunchy or soft. It isn't your typical mayonnaise with calamansi drizzle. It was spiced well and was not over-the-top in salt.
The Bagnet with KBL (Kamatis, Bagoong and Lasuna) Sauce (450 PHP) was my favorite. It had the right amount of fat to lean meat ratio (Not much fat but enough to satisfy your guilty pleasure!), and with the mixture of sour and savory sauce, it sure hit the spot.
The next dish was the chicken with embutido. Thin skin, a fine amount of lean chicken and mixed with embotido. While the chicken was plain as its own, it bodes well with the soft embotido.
The Roast Long Island US Duck was very interesting. I had duck in Singapore a few weeks back, but I didn't appreciate the taste. Instead of the usual Chinese roasted duck, they put a twist to it, and I found it better. Though I'm still not the hugest fan of duck, I appreciated the taste.
I feel like chef Bernice loves the Callos Madrilena (480 PHP) because of the way she describes it. Slow-cooked for about eight hours, the ox tripe is tender and has the melt-in-your-mouth goodness that makes you want to come back for more.
Of course, no Filipino-Spanish restaurant is complete with the Paella Ilustrado (850 PHP)! This is a delicious mix of both meat and seafood. I'm not a huge fan of rice, but I did like the fact that the paella was less sticky and had less intense flavors that can still go well alone, or with other main entrees.
We got to try their Aligue Pasta, which is now one of my favorites. It was also when I learned that Aligue means crab fat (excuse my sad Filipino). You can see how much crab fat they add into the pasta because of its orange hue, topped off with crab meat and fat. Though a bit dry, I would rather have it this way than add too much cream to ruin the pasta. It was VERY indulgent and heavy, so I recommend you to share this with someone. Yes, share both the deliciousness and the guilt!
There were two pizzas: the Shroom Pizza (480 PHP) and the Chorizo Pizza (460 PHP). The base is made out of sourdough, oven-baked from scratch. The thin crust makes it a bit healthier and with a better crunch. Of the two pizzas, I preferred the shroom pizza because of the white cheese! The Chorizo tasted similar to a pepperoni pizza, but the mix of tomato sauce and cheese with a more unique meat made it another favorite.
And for my favorite part, dessert! I started with the Mango Jubillee (250 PHP). It was such an interesting combination. The sampaguita ice cream was definitely a unique flavor where you can taste the flower. Mixed with the mangoes, they both blend well together. You have sweet ice cream, tangy mango balls, and savory almonds. The perfect dessert!
But though that was delicious, I just had to keep coming back for the Matcha Cookies and Cream (275 PHP). I love matcha, and I love the fact that the green tea flavor did not overpower the chocolate chip cookie. Also, instead of the usual cookies and milk, they use panna cotta instead (very adult-y, LOL!). And I was a bit hesitant, but I LOVED IT! I would rather go for this than have my cookies soggy after dunking it in milk. Simply top off the soft and milky panna cotta on the cookie, and enjoy the chewy combination.
We also had a Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake (250 PHP) (because happy birthday Aldous!). It wasn't heavy, but this is one of the best cheesecake I've tried because of its thick consistency. It was all packed together and tasted similar to a caramel macchiato from Starbucks! It wasn't too sweet, but not bitter as well. I finished it off, LOL!
My experience with Solstice was amazing. It's definitely worth the price, from the quality service to the delicious dishes. I can say that I'm definitely coming back again for date night!
You can make reservations or contact Solstice through their Facebook.
You can also call for reservations at: 0977 748 8861 or (02) 802-1891
Find them in Eight Rockwell, just across the Starbucks One Rockwell branch!