Dining Out

La Maison at TriNoMa

Spent most of today shopping at TriNoMa. There weren’t too many shoppers in the morning and it was comfortable. But having had breakfast at 7.00 a.m., by 12.30, I was starving. I wanted to have lunch some place that wasn’t too crowded (ergo, no Taco Bell), where I could eat al fresco (love the cool breeze at this time of the year) and where I hadn’t eaten before. I was really feeling experimental so I decided it would be La Maison. The house specialty was ribs but I wanted something light. Pasta would be nice but I couldn’t find any single serve pasta item on the menu. I decided on a bento box lunch because it had everything. Chicken bento, I told the waiter. Did I want my chicken with rice or pasta? Pasta, I said. Potato soup or clear soup? Potato soup (I am no fan of plain consomme). And a glass of mango juice.

casaveneracion.com Potato soup and black bread

I was reading a book (bought it from a book sale 30 minutes earlier) when the waiter arrived with, “Complimentary black bread, ma’am,” and he served it with something oily on the side. I didn’t touch it then, preferring to have the black bread with my soup. The potato soup arrived, I put down my book and started tearing the bread. I dipped it on whatever was on the saucer beside it, popped a piece into my mouth and… Oh, my goodness, it was good! Never has the saying “Never judge a book by its cover” been more apt. Just because it was black bread didn’t mean it was burnt and bitter. It was soft, sweet, non-greasy and, dipped in the mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (that was what was served on the side as far as my taste buds could discern), just lovely. And the potato soup was just as good — creamy with a hint of herb (probably tarragon) and with bits of mushy potatoes.

casaveneracion.com Chicken bento at La Maison

When the chicken bento arrived, I got a little shocked by the size of the plate. Platter, actually. I wasn’t sure if I could finish everything on it. The salad was topped with curled belly bacon. Looking at the lettuce, I was prepared for something ordinary but the dressing was really something else. Creamy enough to coat the leaves but not as thick as mayonnaise. It was tart and, again, with a distinct taste of herbs. But what I really loved was the pasta with mushrooms and white sauce. The mushroom flavor was wonderfully absorbed by the sauce. Indescribably delicious.

The mussels, smothered with a rich white sauce that had a hint of white wine in it, were a little too overdone for my taste. I don’t like my seafood overcooked.

Ironically, although the chicken was supposed to be the centerpiece of my lunch, it was the item I liked least. Perhaps, one reason is that I really do not like chicken breast meat. But there was also the issue of the too-salty gravy that didn’t have any distinct flavor. After the marvelous white sauces on the pasta and mussels, the nondescript brown gravy just tasted flat and unappetizing. The chicken was the only thing I didn’t finish.

casaveneracion.com Brewed coffee, La Maison, TriNoMa

To conclude my La Maison lunch, I ordered brewed coffee. Served in a coffee press, I actually enjoyed two cups of coffee. Not the best coffee in town but it was real and strong brewed coffee. None of those anemic looking — and tasting — brown liquid that some restaurants like to pass off as freshly brewed coffee.

The bill was P550. A bit pricey, I must admit, but everything considered, the price was not arbitrary especially with the satisfactory service. Next time I go to La Maison, I’ll bring my hubby and the girls. And, next time, I’ll have the ribs.

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