My friends are here on holiday and in their must-try list is dining at Antonio’s in Tagaytay.  But which Antonio’s?   There’s Breakfast by Antonio. There’s Antonio’s Grill. And there’s “the real” Antonio’s.  

It was a no-brainer to decide which.    It was a fine day to delight in foie gras, tinto verano, minted veal cheeks, roasted bone marrow, escargot, and duck breast.  Lunch or dinner here is definitely a major, major treat.  The only major, major problem is deciding which dish to try.  And I have not even considered the problem of deciding which appetizers to try before the main entree.  

Chef Antonio was around hopping from table to table when we arrived.  He made it “easy” for us to order our usual favorites while checking out some food discoveries and novel concoctions from the kitchen. He convinced us to try the Tinto Verano and promptly explained how easy it is to make:  just a full-bodied Merlot, some soda, juice from 2 lemons, a few lemon slices to garnish and ice cubes for a cool drink!  In ordering the Roasted Bone Marrow, Chef Antonio didn’t have to convince us much.  We were suckers for anything sinful 🙂 But it made us feel less guilty to hear Chef Antonio explain that he had a batch of medical doctors savoring this very flavorful dish and even ending up convinced that this dish is actually good for our health!

Tinto Verano, myEyeglasses, myMedications

And who can say no to Chanterelle  Mushrooms with Braised Foie Gras gracing the top of this appetizer? Or ignore the escargot swimming in the finest olive oil and herbs? For sure, this lunch is a 3 hour affair to do justice to this lovely spread of appetizers, soup, salad, main entree and delightful desserts.   After all, we need to digest and leave room for the equally savory (and sinful?) dishes and it would be an epic fail to leave a single morsel of food on the plate after each serving.  Today, they served Roast Tomato Soup and Antonio’s Mesclun Salad with Glazed Walnuts and Dried Currants.   The Raspberry Vinaigrette is exactly how we hoped the salad to be dressed.  

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Foie Gras+Tinto Verano+Escargot+Roasted Bone Marrow: And these are just appetizers!

I always agonize over the menu.  Invariably, I end up ordering my fav Roasted Duck Breast Infused with Truffle, Goji Berries, Seared Foie Gras served with Braised Red Cabbages and Mashed Potatoes.  When it comes to steaks and foie gras, I trust only Antonio’s  and Lolo Dad’s.  As expected, Chef Antonio Escalante did not disappoint. For carnivores, you may also try Antonio’s Trio of Beef Medallion Gratinated with Assorted Mushroom, another morsel of beef (?) and a Lamb Loin. On my 1st time here, this was what I ordered, though I remember the trio to have a light portion of grilled seabass then along with the beef and lamb. The 2nd and 3rd time around, I went bolder with the Pork Knuckles (the finer , classier version of our Crispy Pata) served with sauerkrat and potatoes, and the Osso Buco.  

Roasted Duck Breast Infused with Truffle with Goji Berries, Seared Foie Gras Braised Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes(my fav

Minted Veal Cheeks & Goat Cheese Ravioli on Creamed Crepes

This time around,  we tried a novelty.  The Minted Veal Cheeks and Goat Cheese Ravioli in Creamed Crepes was light, creamy, flavourful, delicioso! If you think you’d want to load up and try more appetizers and go easy on the main entree,  this dish is just right for you.  Oh, the steaks here are oh so good. If you have a big appetite and think you can survive loading up on all those appetizers, soup and salad,  go ahead and let those steaks touch your lips.  It is good for 2 so be sure to team up with someone.

Antonio's Desserts!

The intervals by which they serve the appetizers, soup, salad, main entree ring perfect. These guys surely know their stuff.   They must have pored over books on how long it takes to digest food, or how long it takes before a new food subject can start up another conversation.   We were just about ready to leave the subject of veal cheeks, duck breast, and lechon when we were given the menu to order our desserts.   We all agreed we should each order a different dessert so we can try all.  The Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardammon and Creme Anglaise wins hands down.  So with the Panacotta Sampler.  What have we not tried yet?  We ordered the Chocolate Mint Parfait , Felchlin Maracaibo Chocolate Terrine and the Grilled Sugar Cinnamon Pineapple.   You can ignore that last one.  Not that it wasn’t good, but it simply pales in comparison with the parfait and the choc terrine which was served with double cream and sprinkled with roasted pistacchios.  Yummmmmmmy!

So, three hours was how long we took and enjoyed our lunch.  If you must eat here,  be sure you are in good company.  If not,  you may end up rushing through your lunch or dinner for lack of things to talk about.   And that would be a great disservice to how much effort went into every dish.   Besides, what is good food without good company?  

Postscript: We didn’t order that lechon. The group seated to the table next to ours did. Obviously, we couldn’t get our eyes off that carving table.  Hmmm, perhaps next visit…………

Choices: Al fresco dining overlooking the garden, dining in any of the airconditioned rooms, or dining by the koi pond.