The Manila Hotel’s famed Champagne Room has a rich history in Manila’s social scene. Diners share resplendent memories of romantic dinners, proposals, celebrations, and milestones over a fine meal. In the ’70s, the restaurant welcomed a stream of Manila’s stellar society figures, politicians, foreign dignitaries, and businessmen who enjoyed par excellence private dinners amidst an elegant and beautiful ambience, and basking in the music of Joe Nicolas and The Manila Strings, an orchestra of eleven violinists and members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, a violinist and a pianist serenade diners with pop ballads, and at the time of our visit, Christmas carols.
To date, this premier restaurant remains a timeless beauty and the fine dining restaurant of choice for discriminating diners who put a premium on impeccably-prepared dishes, outstanding service, and understated luxurious ambience.
The interiors of Champagne Room are so beautiful and fancy, in fact, that it’s a popular location for wedding proposals. At the very least, it’s perfect for a romantic date night—whether you’re just trying to impress the girl on a first date or are celebrating a relationship milestone. It has that Great Gatsby feel to me, although at the time we went, the Christmas decor was already put up, and to complement it, the festive aroma of cinnamon greets one upon entering the threshold.
The Champagne Room further elevates the dining experience with its new menu of indulgent selections paired with well-curated wines. The cold and hot appetizers set the tone for a fine meal with varied preferences such as the Cold Smoked Duck Breast and Roasted Kumara Winter Squash Soup, which were both part of the November Degustation Set Menu, which my fiancé and I tried on our dinner date there recently. The degustation menu changes every month, so make sure to inquire about what’s in their lineup for December if you’re trying it next month. For P3,100++ per person, you get an appetizer, soup, sorbet, main dish, and dessert, plus your choice of coffee or tea and pralines.
The Cold Smoked Duck Breast was served with Pear Waldorf Salad in Blueberry Dressing. I don’t usually like duck, but the smoky flavor of the Cold Smoked Duck Breast took away the gamey taste. It’s so savory and tender, I actually finished the entire thing! I surprisingly enjoyed this premium cured meat. The salad it came with is delicious, a palate cleanser after each bite of duck. There’s a hint of sweetness with a fresh taste from the pear, resetting your taste buds for another go at the duck. It has celery and fresh blueberries, crunch from walnuts, and delicious bacon bits. It’s also good to have a bit of the salad and the duck in one bite, with the blueberry dressing lending a hint of acidity.
The Roasted Kumara Winter Squash Soup, meanwhile, was thick, hearty, and warmed the tummy and soul. My fiance said it’s his fave. It had an interesting texture from sunflower seeds and a big chunk of fresh-tasting local lobster.
You can also add a glass of red, white, or sparkling wine to your set menu for additional P500++, and since we’re at the Champagne Room, we wanted bubbly. We picked their sparkling wine, which is from Spain, to pair with the dishes.
We had Red Dragon Fruit Sorbet as a palate cleanser before the main course. It had an interesting texture, much like the fruit it’s made of. It’s not too sweet and definitely fresh tasting (it had a sort of veggie aftertaste), and it certainly cleanses the palate.
The main course offers refined palates exquisite choices that include Roast U.S. Prime Beef Rib and Surf And Turf—which in the November Degustation Menu features Pan-seared Scallops with Crispy Fried Pork Belly Sous Vide served with delectable garlic chives potato puree, Pommery sauce, Madeira Sauce, baby carrots, and French beans.
I had the Surf and Turf since it’s what’s included in the Degustation Set Menu and I wanted to try it, of course. Make sure to read the fine print since Surf and Turf is usually steak and prawn or lobster, but in this case, it’s Pan-seared Scallops with Crispy Fried Pork Belly Sous Vide. It was a huge slab of savory pork, but it’s best to eat it while hot, since the meat can get a bit tough and dry if you wait too long like I did (I prioritized taking photos of it, sadly). The garlic chives potato puree remedied this, however, as it’s creamy, delicious, and enhanced the taste of the pork. The scallops, on the other hand, are soft, fresh tasting and lightly salted, and pan-seared perfectly.
It’s not on the menu, but if it’s available, you might want to ask for the Beef Tenderloin, which is way better than the pork! It’s so amazingly tender (we asked for medium rare doneness), it practically melts in your mouth, and I dissolved into a puddle of ecstasy at first bite. The meat is so delicious, flavorful, and sinfully so juicy. It barely even needed the gravy it was served with. So yes, now that you know of this, ask your waiter if you can have this as your main dish when you get the set menu.
Warm Chocolate Pudding
To cap off a gastronomic meal, you can indulge in the Baked Alaska (which is also available at Cowrie Grill, The Manila Hotel’s premier steak house that I reviewed here) and Warm Chocolate Pudding, which is part of the November Degustation Menu. I enjoyed the light and creamy nougat ice cream that went with the pudding because of its interesting crunch and texture. Meanwhile, the warm pudding with Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sauce is also not too sweet, and a great ending to an eventful dinner since it’s not overwhelming. The texture and look of the pudding are similar to a cake or cupcake. I always include both the pudding and the ice cream in each bite, so there’s a mix of hot and cold in my mouth for that balanced pairing.
I enjoyed the dessert with tea—one has a choice of chamomile, peppermint, earl grey, or green tea. This was served with a few pieces of chocolate pralines, which at that point I was too full to eat, so I just had them to-go, along with the Red Velvet Cake they treated us to, on the house.
Champagne Room is open for dinner from 6PM to 11PM, Monday to Saturday. For inquiries or reservations, contact The Manila Hotel at (632) 527-0011 extension 1300 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.