Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Overnight at the historic Luneta Hotel

For my mom's birthday, she wanted to try out Luneta Hotel, which was originally built in 1918  and was regarded as one of the most elegant hotels in Manila. It was one of the few buildings that survived World War 2 but fell into disrepair over the years. 
Old photo of the original hotel from the lunetahotel.com website


Fortunately,  its new owners restored and retrofitted the hotel with the approval of the National Historical Commission and after 7 years, it reopened in June  2014.

The weird thing was, we couldn't find their website or contact number. We tried a number we found on the web, but it turned out to be a different hotel.
 Luckily for us, we were able to find its official website at www.lunetahotel.com
I think the staff were still getting their bearings when my mom made a phone reservation because the price quoted for the 3 rooms was different from the one we were to pay when we got there.




The rooms had very modern amenities like LCD TVs, a digital safe, and a refrigerator
It's a good thing they didn't have any other guests at that time so we were able to get 2 executive rooms and 1 deluxe room at their promo prices of P3,850 and P3,050 respectively. That's good for 2 people and 2 kids with breakfast. On their website, the regular price would be P5,500 for the executive room and P4,400 for the deluxe room.


 The only difference I could see between the two rooms was that the executive rooms were slightly larger, had a view of Luneta Park and had a bathtub. The deluxe rooms had windows that faced another building at the back of the hotel.
 Check out the chic toiletries from L'Occitane.
The toilet and bath were very clean and new.
Minibar had wine and  Perrier . Ooh lala! 

No instant coffee here, just TWG tea!

The 2 Summit bottled water were  free, thank goodness!

The new owners decided to keep the rooms as they were so the halls are rather narrow. They removed the spiral staircase but added an elevator.

  BUT the main advantage of the deluxe room is that it didn't face T.M. Kalaw road which was rather noisy at night. The rooms do not block the noise outside so if you're a light sleeper, I suggest you pick the deluxe rooms. I was in the executive room and I hardly slept at all because I could hear a radio or loudspeaker blaring from Luneta Park all through the night!
 The rooftop has been turned into a bar called Filomena's Garden.
Exterior of Filomena's Garden.


The staff who was cleaning the 6th floor when we got there informed us that the tiles on the walls were from the original building and were integrated into the redesign of the walls.



Old steel grilles from a Church in Malabon adorn Cafe Yano on the first floor


 Beside the hotel is the old Luneta Theater, which is now the dormitory where the hotel's staff stay.
 And on the other side of the hotel is a huge skyscraper that dwarfs what was once Manila's tallest building



 For breakfast, one can choose brewed coffee, or hot chocolate. They also gave us some tea biscuits to munch on as we chose our Filipino breakfast
 The meals are huge! I was quite full after eating 4 pieces of longganisa, 2 eggs and a cup of rice.
 Mama had the beef tapa. It's a good thing this was complimentary. Otherwise, expect to pay P585 for all this.
 Fruits in season to end the meal. We decided to have our other meals outside either at  Family Mart or a nearby chnese restaurant because the reviews on the web weren't too favorable and the prices were prohibitive. I think a full course meal was at P800+ per person!
 One of the cool activities you can do here to take advatage of the beautiful facade is to wear vintage-looking clothes and take black and white photos!


 I was sleep-deprived that morning so I wasn't able to art direct these photos like I wanted to.
 Take some from your room's porch, too, and pretend you're in Paris!
All in all, an overnight stay is fine at the discounted rates if you're a history buff.  While the facade and lobby are beautiful, I wish the rooms had more touches of the Old Manila. Maybe some vintage paintings or photos? Also, if they want more people to dine at Cafe Yano, they should really look into smaller, more affordable meals. Maybe just 2 pieces of longganisa, 1 one cup of rice, and coffee for P200? Most importantly, they should sound-proof the windows! 

Tip: Stay in the cheaper but quieter deluxe rooms if you're a light sleeper.
       There's no pool so you might want the executive room with the bathtub.
       Be prepared for heavy traffic if you go via Roxas Boulevard.
      We didn't experience any ghostly apparitions during our stay so don't worry!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Random adventures in food

 My aunt sent us a big slab of smoked salmon and I thought I'd make a salmon and cream cheese spread just like the one Chef Jessie Sincioco of 100 Revolving Restaurant makes.
 I made the first half of the salmon as instructed in the box, cooked in butter and lemon. It was okay, but I added lots of fried garlic for an added kick!

For the sandwich spread, I bought cream cheese and spring onion.
 I just chopped the salmon up and added the cheese and spring onion. It was good, but not as good as Chef Jessie's.
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 One of my favorite restos when I'm sick of the usual fast food is Bacolod Chicken Inasal. The food is always flavorful and the prices quite reasonable. I love their Batchoy (solo with egg, P85)
Lemonade at P59 to slice through the MSG :D 
I've also tried their chicken combo meals and I left feeling very satisfied. In fact, the only thing I didn't like is that their buko pandan dessert has kaong or nata de coco bits. I'm a purist. Just the coconut and gelatin, please!
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Another old reliable is French Baker. I always went here back in my college days when I felt like I deserved a reward. They are a tad pricier than most fast food restos, but the food is consistently excellent, just don't ask me if they're really French!
 You can order anything on their menu and I bet you'll be satisfied! Mama ordered the steak sandwich (P110) and she said it was excellent.
 I always order the Burger steak. The beef is so juicy  and the serving is so generous! Really worth it at  P125!
They've also jumped onto the cronut bandwagon but my mom was hesistant to buy a lot for fear of being disappointed. We really shouldn't have doubted French Baker. This was one of the best I've tasted! And at just P68, the best value for money! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day at Italianni's plus some other restos

 We haven't been to Italianni's in quite a while but thanks to a gift certificate from Twinx, we found the perfect opportunity to use it ---Father's Day!

We always order the spinach and artichoke dip (P525).

 Incidentally, a gift certificate for this dish was also what led us to Italianni's the first time we went here! That was sometime in 2000 or 2001, in its original location, before it moved to Greenbelt 2.
We were given the complimentary bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to which Jon asked "Is this for free?" We've been coming back ever since.
Caesar's salad for sharing (P450) 

They've changed the plating so much so that the meals couldn't quite fit out table for four. Mama had to distribute the contents of each dish just so we could have room for the next dish.
Detail: a sign that says the salad is organic

We also had the Farmer's Bundle for P1345 which consisted of:

Baby back ribs--quite tasty and fall-off-the-bone soft;

herbed chicken--- nothing special, just ok;

and the pasta in olive oil and garlic. good, and just a wee bit spicy.  

Mama also ordered the Seafood and vegetables (P450)  which has assorted cuts of fish, mussels and clamsin white wine. Very nice, but made even better by the rice that came with it (So Filipino!)
We also had bottomless/unlimited servings of iced tea and dalandan juice at P105 each.

All in all, the bill came up to P2,365 after they deducted the gift certificate and the senior citizen's discount. Still quite pricey for our taste. The food is still very good  but if you want value for money, check out North Park. It's a chinese reataurant that serves top-notch food at reasonable prices

Shanghai chicken (P283)

Sweet and sour pork (256)

Chow mein (P300)

Ampalaya con carne (Bitter gourd and beef) P234

 No picture of the yang chow fried rice and delicious jasmine rice
The total bill for a group of 5 was just a little above P2,000.

Meanwhile, if you want dessert, Nathaniel's delicious buko pandan is now available in Alabang! 
We went there recently to buy dessert and also try out their merienda meals
Sadly, their non-specialty items are disappointing
The lasagna was good enough, very cheesy (P100)


 But the pancit guisado (P70) and miki bihon were very salty! Maybe so customers would order drinks or their puto pao?
Miki-bihon (P70)

Luckily, my lomi was quite good  but pricey at P95. 

My advice, stick to the buko pandan and maybe try their siomai. The buko pandan juice at P50 is also quite refreshing.

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