Sunday 15 April 2012

Spices: L' Incontro

I was sad when I found out that my favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian resto which I frequent, Cafe Othello has closed down. I got more sad when I read about that the Martinel's passing on the reigns of L'Incontro to a local chef. Cafe Othello and L'Incontro are sister restaurants.  I'll always remember the gracious Mrs. Martinel who would always invite us to dine in L'Incontro as she gives us extra servings of bread and pesto dip or home made potato chips and puff pastry for dessert. When I saw a 7-course meal deal from Deal Grocer, I knew I had to get it to finally dine in L'Incontro.

The restaurant looked really nice and classy, with its high wood ceiling and spacious area it felt like I was eating inside a log cabin.

Inside L'Incontro

There were two choices, the regular menu and the vegetarian menu. The seven course dinner cost Php1.250++

Menu A - Regular Menu
Menu B - Vegetarian Menu

Upon being seated, a plate of crunchy Baguette and bread sticks with a tomato and pesto dip is served. Both dips tasted great that I had to ask for another round.

Complimentary Bread with Pesto and Tomato Dip

I was surprised to see that the wines are moderately priced so I decided to get a bottle of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Italian red Wine. It tasted mellow thus it paired with both menus relatively well.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

The meal starts with a Glass of Prosseco, an Italian sweet sparkling white wine.


For the Amuse Bouche, a plate of Mussel Piastra was served. The mussels was cooked and seasoned perfectly. The mussels was plump and juicy and it can be easily taken off its shell. Cooked with white wine, bacon and breadcrumbs, it tasted simple and delicious.

Mussels Piastra

For the vegetarian Amuse Bouche, a beautifully plated Eggplant Caprese was served. Strips of white cheese and tomatoes in the center of a sliced of rolled eggplant. It didn't just looked beautiful, it also tasted like it.

Eggplant Caprese

The Zuppe (Soup) Course was a rich and flavorful Puree of Roasted Squash. I'm not a big fan of squash but the bright golden soup was delectably sweet and savory. One of the best pumpkin soups I've tasted.

Puree of Roasted Squash

The Antipasto ("Before the Meal" Course) was the restaurant's bestseller for 11 years. The Crespella Ala Funghi En Tartufo is a Smoked Ham and Cheese Crepe with White Wine, Mushroom and Truffle Sauce. I was caught off guard when I had a whiff of the aromatic Truffle Oil, when I looked to my right the server was still a good 10 meters away holding out the dish. The heavenly scent got stronger and stronger as he approached, it whetted my appetite more. The savory Crepe was astonishingly superb. The salty smoked ham and melted cheese inside the crepe complimented the bits of mushroom and the Truffle cream sauce so well.

Crespella Ala Funghi En Tartufo
The Vegetarian version had no smoked ham inside.

The Intermezzo (Palete Cleansing Course) was a Raspberry Sorbet served in a Martini Glass. The Sorbet that I've tasted are usually artificially flavored and rougher in texture. L'Incontro's Sorbet was creamy and tasted like the real fruit.

Italian Raspberry Sorbet

For the Primo (First) Course was the Gnocchi Gorgonzola. The pasta dumplings texture and consistency was spot on. It was soft, fluffy and pillow-like. Gorgonzola Cheese are quite salty I wish they added cream or white wine to mellow out the saltiness of the cheese sauce. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the dish, it was just a tad salty.

Gnocchi Gorgonzola
For the Secondi (Second) Course a deconstructed Osso Bucco was served. Normally, I wouldn't order this, I'm not a fan of Osso Bucco. This is because I find the Filipino counterpart of the dish, the Kalderetang Baka more savory. But L'Incontro's Osso Bucco has a secret weapon that blew me away. At the side of the tender chunks of flavorful beef shanks atop the delicious Saffron rice was a whole Bone Marrow with the fatty marrow on top. The marrow had an unbelievably crunchy outer crust and a melt in your mouth center. I've never eaten marrow with an added crunchy texture like this, truly amazing.

Deconstructed Osso Bucco

The Vegetarian second course was Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Panko Crusted Goat's Cheese with Truffle Honey and Roasted Red Beet and Spinach Risotto. The Portobello Mushroom was grilled perfectly, I just wished that they served it whole and not chopped. The goat's cheese croquettes paired with the honey truffle nicely, the sauce mellowed out the goat's cheese strong pungent flavor. I found the Risotto more sweet than savory, I felt that adding red beets wasn't really a good idea.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Panko Crusted Goat's Cheese, Red Beet and Spinach Risotto

For the Dolce (Dessert) course a simple Vanilla Panna Cotta was served. The Panna Cotta was done really well, simple and smooth. I like that it wasn't clawing sweet like the other Panna Cottas I had before.

Vanilla Panna Cotta

The proper way to end an Italian meal was with a shot of a Digestivo or a digestive. A shot of a cold and sweet Limoncello.

After the meal, I felt happy and sad. Sad because I wished I got to dine here before the Martinel's sold the place. And happy because the new owner, Ms. Tina Pamintuan has kept her promise to keep serving great tasting Italian food.

Adress: 207 Nicanor Garcia (formerly Reposo) Street, Makati City
Tel No: 02 899-0635 / 899-0638

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