As we were staying at The Forest Lodge for 3D2N on a weekend, we grabbed the opportunity to dine in at what’s regarded as the best fine dining restaurant in Baguio City: Le Chef at The Manor, Camp John Hay. This all-day dining hotel-restaurant offers both Filipino and international cuisines by Chef Billy King. It’s open daily from 6AM to 11PM, and serves breakfast (buffet style), lunch and dinner.
Going to fastfood restaurants and those you frequent when in Baguio City may be tempting, but absolutely if you only have a few days to visit and tour the City of Pines and want to eat well, it would be a mistake to miss dining here. Le Chef at The Manor has landed features in travel magazines and online sites many times over, and after experiencing it for the first time, we say the hype is well-deserved. Make a reservation as this restaurant books up well in advance.
Review of Le Chef Restaurant (The Manor, Camp John Hay, Baguio City)
We walked from the parking lot of The Forest Lodge and were led to The Manor’s garden, restaurant and bake shop. Elegant and classically beautiful. That’s how I’d shortly describe the atmosphere and design at Le Chef inside and outside. There’s little lighting in the garden area but it was enough to set a romantic mood right while enjoying the cool air of Baguio.
As we stepped inside, we found that the ambiance is one that spots a rather relaxed setting. It’s an ideal venue to host an executive lunch, an intimate family gathering or a memorable date. The restaurant is partitioned into sections with wall dividers, giving diners a sense of exclusivity while all being in the same room. The nice presentation on the dining table highlights the exquisiteness to expect from the meal to come. This is really my kind of place. 🙂
Service was great from reception to the end. We received warm greetings from the staffs and the manager upon arrival, and they presented only friendly and attentive stewardship.
For those celebrating their birthdays, an acoustic band serenades them a song and this shows how Le Chef wants to please customers and make them happy on their special day with dedication. I also noticed that the staffs take effort in speaking to diners between service unobtrusively to make sure that the food was cooked well and requests are attended to promptly without fail. Now that’s commendable.
Warming us up for dinner was this basket of bread with Le Chef’s specialty dip. Boring, right? Wrong. These breads were perfectly soft and light, and the dip was flavorful. This complimentary starter kicked off the meal just right, while we were waiting for the actual courses to be served.
Topped with toasted almonds, Le Chef’s bowl of Broccoli Cream Soup (PhP 160) was as delicious as a simple plate of broccoli gets. It had this pure and eye-popping green color with chicken broth that’s nice and aromatic. The contrast of the rich texture and flavors of the cream soup and the crispy almonds helped make it remarkable.
Dressed impeccably, the Caesar Salad “The Classic Way” (PhP 220) came with Romaine lettuce in anchovy dressing, with croutons, bacon bits and Parmesan cheese carvings. We loved every minute eating this salad. The greens were so crunchy and so fresh that your lips will water and your eyes will pucker. If green stuff isn’t your thing though, then maybe pass.
Well seasoned and beautifully presented, the Pan-fried Halibut Steak in Pommery Mustard Sauce and Penne Pomodoro (PhP 720) was straight-up amazing! One of my go-to’s has always been fish, and this is one you definitely don’t want to miss. The pasta was also excellent, a heartier content of the dish than you might think. You could use some carbs anyway.
We carried on, with more wisdom than sense of adventure. My mom had the star dish, the Malaysian Goat Curry with Biryani Rice (PhP 495), which looked interesting on Le Chef’s menu. The classic aroma of curry was present. The meat had a staggering tenderness so our teeth could gently bite it down. To goat meat lovers, I bet this will be your heaven. In my case, I thought it was better to cash in my digestive bandwidth elsewhere.
Served with pickled green papaya and steamed rice, these Char-grilled Baby Back Ribs in Fennel Barbecue Sauce (PhP 540) were not what we came to Le Chef for, but they were the best of the bunch out of our orders. Smoky with just the right spice, the baby back ribs were not tricky to eat as they’re fall-of-the-bone good. The sauce was less sweet than I expected; it was alright. We really liked this a lot, though not quite as much as the steak….
I’m not even gonna hesitate. The MANOR Steak (PhP 880) is one of the best steaks we’ve tried. My boyfriend had sampled a lot of versions of steak in many restaurants and he told us this one has his seal of approval. It was an incredible cut of medium rare meat, which arrived at the table perfectly cooked and juicy. Home-fried potatoes and grilled tomatoes were sitting on a side. Yes, they were nice as well, but we’ve hardly noticed them as we were too busy shoving slices of steak into our mouth. 😉 Even if my taste buds don’t often agree with meat, they did this time. The MANOR steak was delicious with a capital D.
Since Le Chef lacked selections for vegetarians, the most they could offer my dad who’s a strict vegetarian was the Brown Rice Selection – Vegetable and Mushroom (PhP 320). The minimal description didn’t need to take some decoding. With an elegant display, all ingredients were as you know they would taste like, and nothing was deceptive.
For desserts, we shared the Banana Split “Le Chef” (PhP 220)—three flavors of ice cream, sliced bananas, cream, nuts and cherries on top. As a punchy, sweet combination with a spectrum of textures, it won our hearts and minds.
Also a hit, the Cherry Cheesecake was a very pretty and fairly tasty CHEESY bite. It was smooth, creamy and everything I’d look for in a cheesecake. I loved the thin graham-cracker crust at the bottom. Yum!
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
We’ve traveled six hours from Manila, and we just wanted to maximize our vacation stay in Baguio with great-tasting food. Pleased and satisfied, we didn’t go back to the Forest Lodge hungry with these heavy and impressive entrees. Le Chef’s menu is by no means exorbitant especially for a special occasion, and by the standard of the variety of food matched with good quality, is actually good value.
If you are going to stay or just arrange a visit at Camp John Hay, I recommend that you make a reservation at Le Chef Restaurant and do so for dinner. It’s better to go with a larger group and order as much as you can realistically handle, and then have some desserts. 🙂