Back again up in the highlands

28 06 2010

Tender and juicy U.S. Rib Eye Steak from the kitchens of The Highlander Steakhouse at Tagaytay Highlands.

NOTHING COMES between me and my meat.  Good steak, that is.  So even with the alarm that had to be raised due to Taal Volcano’s heightened activity, I had to be at Mama Hen’s lunch treat in Tagaytay Highlands.  It has become a tradition with her.  And traditions are nothing if not to be kept and observed.  The simmering wrath from the innermost core of the earth be damned.

A panoramic shot of Taal Volcano

The meal started with the complimentary house bread, which, I surmise to be a French baguette and a Tuscan round served on a wooden cutting board.  It was like having a taste of France and Italy, just a cut of the bread knife away.  Unless there would be focaccia, I would always gravitate towards the Tuscan round.  And as a force of habit, I smothered each piece with mounds of fresh butter that I would first allow to come to room temperature – which, suprisingly, was easily achieved in the cool Highlands air.

Complimentary bread – a smallish French baguette and a Tuscan round.

 

The bread comes on a huge chopping block.

 

A close shot of my fave Tuscan round.

We did away with the salad course and opted for soup instead.  What came to the table was a dish so pretty I initially felt I didn’t have the heart to disturb it.  I’m used to French onion soup having a beautiful finish of a bread “crust” and melted Gruyère cheese on top.  But I’ve never expected much of Cream of Mushroom Soup.  The Highlands Steakhouse’s rendition came in a heavy mug lidded with perfectly puffed puff pastry.  With one careful swift motion the wait staff made, my nose unconsciously followed an invisible trail of buttery goodness that could only come from pastry hot and fresh out of the oven.  And the moment it hit the table, the domed crust that glistened under the light conjured up images of chicken pot pie made with organic Dorset puff pastry.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I punched through the protruding fullness – undeniably bearing luscious smears of golden butter – and saw steam quickly escaping from the inside, clearing to reveal the creamy goodness of a melange of fresh wild mushrooms, most likely white button, swiss brown, cremini and baby bellos.  I loved how the soup was generously seasoned with plentiful crackings of the pepper mill.  I first tasted a piece of the puff pastry on its own before pushing the rest down into the soup.  What resulted was one of the most comforting, heartwarming, and really chunky good soups of recent memory.  In deference to our hostess with the “mostest”, Mama Hen, I kept myself from licking the last remaining drop from my mug.

Punching through the puff pastry dome.

Good thing the pièce de résistance finally arrived, lest I ended up committing a gastronomic faux pas.

The steak was actually a hefty portion of U.S. Rib Eye – easily anywhere from 10 oz. to 14 oz. – well-done this time.  It bore perfect grill marks that proved the meat was turned only once, making sure that the natural and flavorful juices were preserved inside the meat and not dried out.  Mama Hen chimed in that the true test of a chef is not when he makes rare steak when all the blood oozing out onto the plate could belie how well (or not) the cooking was done; but when he is asked to make well-done steak when there is always the risk to cook it to the point of being rubbery tough.  I’m not complaining about my steak!  It was flavorful, quite tender, and had perfect marbling and really tender, juicy fat.  It was so good I felt like committing a sin with each piece I cut and stained with just the right amount of the mushroom gravy.

Now that's lunch! My steak and choice of sides.

 

Side number one was buttered steamed asparagus spears. The corn on the cob comes with.

 

A look at side number two – the very yummy mushroom ragout!

The plate came with the requisite corn on the cob (really sweet!) and a choice of two sides.  I asked for buttered steam asparagus spears and the mushroom ragout.  I chose the stew of shiitake and oyster mushrooms to help tie all the flavor experiences together – from the soup, to the main course, to the sides.

As always, thanks for the wonderful, fabulous lunch, Mama Hen!

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.


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2 responses

28 06 2010
Chax

nagutom na naman ako dahil sa blog entries mo!

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29 06 2010
melai

oh my! may resto sa may MOA na parang Tagaytay Highlands Steakhouse ata ung name if I’m not mistaken… parang gusto ko tuloy i-try.. hehehehe… sana kasingsarap din… 🙂

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