Friday, September 17, 2010


It's quite a tall order for a restaurant to call itself THE FRENCH CUISINE RESTAURANT for so many reasons. For one, you present yourself as THE one. Therefore, anyone going through its doors would understandably have very high expectations of such a restaurant, especially if you have seen its stall at the Salcedo Saturday Market and heard of its formidable reputation as a foodie's stall.

Belying its tiangge origins, La Cuisine Francaise is decked out as a full-on restaurant with a menu that features bistro fare. I was excited to see cassoulet, pot au feu and bouillabaise. I was determined to order one and encourage my lunch buddy to order one of the two others. When he asked what pot au feu was and I told him it was bulalo, he smirked. But when I told him that cassoulet had duck, he then got excited. We were given a plate of four canapes as the amuse bouche and we found the bread bad. Not bad as in off, but hard, dry and generic. Not too worry, I ate only the pate and the sausage and skipped the bread. We were then given a bread basket with pretty curly butter with our order of tri-colored fish pate, pork pate with blue cheese and duck-orange terrine. Bad, good, ok.

For our main course, I had the bouillabaise and my buddy the cassoulet. I have had home-made and restaurant bouillabaise. What I like in a bouillabaise is the earthy and robust flavors provided by the spices and citrus, with the added punch coming from the rouille, to complement the fresh flavors of the seafood used in the making of the broth. Sadly, the bouillabaise in La Cuisine Francaise is big disappointment: it had no character, no flavor and no fresh seafood. The scallops were especially tough, rubbery and stringy. And don't get me started on the dismal broth.

My friend was unhappy with his cassoulet, although I thought the duck was ok.

The dessert on display in the chiller looked interesting though. Were I to give this restaurant a second visit, I would probably stick to coffee and cake. Too bad, because the service was very friendly and efficient, and the location is good. If Gordon Ramsay were to come to this restaurant, he would probably suggest that it rethink itself as a simple bistro: no fussy color schemes and potted plants and synthetic fabric for its linens. A more simple wine list (and why is THE French Cuisine Restaurant parlaying American beer?!), a more simple menu, and a more simple look.

La Cuisine Francaise is on the Sedeno side of the first floor of the Paseo Parkview Condominium in Salcedo Village, Makati City.

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