Happy 2015! This is my first post of the year, so it has to be special, right? 😛 I’ll skip sharing my New Year’s resolutions because honestly I can’t think of even one, haha. I haven’t blogged in the past two weeks because I was busy watching my diet closely and working out in the gym every other day without fail for muscle-toning. Diet and fitness hold a large part of my lifestyle, so I figured that ending 2014 with those would feel right. Anyway, enough word on that and let’s go down to business!
Last Sunday, we had lunch in The Nest “Dining in the Sky,” an all-day dining establishment perched on the topmost floor of Vivere Hotel.
Vivere Hotel is a towering five-star deluxe hotel in Alabang that’s considered as one of the first hotels developed in the area. At its 31st floor sits a restaurant which was used to be known as Sky Lounge. In its 12th year in July 2013, the restaurant underwent reconstruction, redesign and re-conceptualization not only in terms of theme and decor but also in food and drinks. The owners decided to name it The Nest, a place where guests can feel comfortable and right “at home.” Warmly welcomed by courteous staff and relaxing atmosphere, I was quite convinced.
Review of The Nest – Dining in the Sky (Vivere Hotel, Alabang, Muntinlupa)
There’s something in distressed white walls echoing the muted palette of furnishing that gives a calming and relaxing vibe. The Nest in Alabang, being positioned on top of the hotel building, offers a secluded and peaceful refuge to rejuvenate in a tranquil backdrop.
The restaurant is broadly divided into interrelated yet seemingly distinct spaces, i.e. the bar, semi open-air in-room dining area, two function rooms which can fit 30-50 people, and the al fresco setup with a mesmerizing view of the city and an infinity pool.
The combination of imagery, the color palette used, and the strategic placement of key functional elements all contribute towards a very classy and lovely ambiance. I find The Nest as an ideal place for romantic dates (celebrating Valentine’s Day or anniversaries), casual family dinners, business meetings, feasts and holidays.
Just note that it’s not totally advisable to grab a table outside on a windy day no matter how much you want to appreciate the urban landscape. The strong winds tend to blow away the table napkins and anything light. Plus, you’ll hate it when the wind messes up your hairstyle and disturbs your dining experience altogether. Your options? Either be fine with it—tie your hair in a bun or back to a ponytail and put hairspray—or just ask if you can transfer inside.
Stay-in hotel guests can enjoy breakfast buffet from 5:30AM to 10:30AM. At this time of the day, the bar counter expands to form buffet tables, and some dining sets are moved to provide more space for buffet dining. By lunch (11:00AM to 4:00PM) and dinner (6:00PM to 1:00AM), The Nest transforms to a fine, a la carte dining with specialties of international cuisine and a superb list of bar drinks.
Mellow and jazz music is played live by a pianist and saxist tandem from Mondays to Saturdays from 7:30PM to 12:30PM. Eat and be entertained. 🙂
As a restaurant in a five-star hotel, The Nest in Alabang serves mixed cuisines to stimulate the appetite of both Philippine locals and foreigners who come for a visit. The following featured dishes are mostly their best-sellers—all wonderfully executed.
Salads and appetizers are not mandatory, but they’re great to whet one’s appetite. We started our heavy lunch with Mango Salad with Scallops (PhP 475). I absolutely loved the crunchiness of the mixed greens and the sweetness of the strawberry vinaigrette combined. The grilled scallops wrapped in spinach and bacon tasted salty. Its saltiness was nicely complemented with Hollandaise sauce that was just slightly tangy.
Another salad dish that came visually striking was the Crispy Catfish Salad (PhP 390). When I saw that the Thai noodles were mixed with strips of green mangoes, I simply chuckled to myself at how ridiculous these two would fit in terms of flavors and appropriateness. But hey, taste was delightful, and I surprisingly liked it. Toppings were made with crispy fried flakes of catfish meat, onions, peanuts and cilantro leaves. Get it if you can, especially during summer months.
If salads and greens don’t do it for you, find yourself freedom. The Nest’s Beef Salpicao (PhP 450), their best-selling sizzler, must be a hit for beef lovers. It’s prepared with tender U.S. beef chunks cooked in lots of garlic and served with mashed potatoes. Sauce used was mostly of Worcestershire, a bit like pepper steak. I liked that the garlic chips didn’t have that garlicky aftertaste. The mashed potatoes on the side were pretty good, too, as they were not too mashed but turned out rather like pillowy mounds of soft potatoes.
While falling some way short of spiciness as in my expectation, the Buffalo Chicken Wings (PhP 380) were tasty and yummy nonetheless. Served with blue cheese dressing, this dish certainly weighed on the savory end.
Moving to the main courses, first to arrive on our table was the Crispy Binagoongan (PhP 450). This local dish can trigger a belt-loosening euphoria. It was flawlessly made with lechon kawali simmered in shrimp paste and tomatoes with lady fingers and chili. I recommend biting into the crispy skin of lechon kawali with white rice, bagoong, veggies and then the mangoes in one spoonful. So Filipino. So good.
The Bistro Steak (PhP 1155) would please the palate of most. Cooked to perfection, the 225-grams succulent strip loin was tender and deliciously juicy with each cut oozing in goodness. Taste and texture were just as amazing as it looked! The steak was accompanied with creamy mushroom and peppercorn demi-glaze sauce and mashed potatoes. Note that this is a must-order in The Nest.
The Pan-grilled Chicken and Garlic Steak (PhP 380) tasted like it was properly marinated in barbecue sauce. Topped with lots of roasted garlic chips and served with steamed white rice, the grilled chicken thigh steaks were juicy and the flavors blended well. As comfort food, this deserved a big thumbs up.
The least that I liked was Vongole (PhP 310)—fresh homemade linguini made with fresh clams stewed in white wine, tossed in olive oil, butter, garlic, and chili. Without adding salt, pepper and chili flakes, the pasta was too bland without any punch of flavor. Adding one squeeze of lemon didn’t help either. I’m sure I won’t get this next time.
For dessert, we had the Frozen Brazo (PhP 220), a frozen version of the classic Filipino dessert called “brazo de mercedes.” It was made with soft and fluffy meringue, layers of graham crust, custard, mantecado (vanilla butter), and flavored ice cream. We enjoyed the variation in textures and levels of sweetness, which made it calorie-worthy! 🙂
Containing a rich chocolate molten core, the Molten Lava Cake with Salted Caramel (PhP 220) was truly decadent. The crust had a beautiful crisp texture that acted like a gentle casing to contain the warm and dense chocolate within. This cake had just the right level of sweetness to please our palate without any satiation. Loved it.
If you want something lighter and less overwhelming, the Mango Creme Brûlée (PhP 220) must be perfect. Leaving a good impression, the sharp tang of mangoes harmoniously pieced together with the creamy custard and crisp caramelized sugar on top. This dessert tasted too good to resist. 🙂
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Items on the menu are generally not over-the-top expensive. The prices are surprisingly affordable, considering the five-star ambiance, service, and the wide range of delicious food. Portions are family-style (great for sharing), so I’m sure that there will be something that will suit everyone’s mood and budget.
Thanks to Aldous for organizing this event. My family will surely love this place. 🙂