February 4, 2016

Gourmet Bar and Pool Lounge at Novotel Hotel Manila

Whenever I hear or pass-by Cubao, a mix of memories and emotions come over me. One of the good memories was that when I was little, my family and I used to go there to watch the annual Christmas On Display show. Also, fond memories of concerts and shows at the Araneta Coliseum were etched in my mind. Then when I grew older, Cubao slowly lost its charm because it became outdated and other shopping destinations have emerged. It has also been a notorious place for pick-pockets and other unwanted activities.

Not until recently that Cubao was slowly revived to its former glory. A new mall was constructed, the Araneta Coliseum was renovated and there was Cubao Expo, which became a destination for artists, musicians and foodies.  Now, you will not recognize it as the Cubao it once was. New buildings have been risen and establishments have been constructed in the area. 

On what was once the Araneta Coliseum's parking lot now stands a very new, hip and posh hotel named Novotel Manila. It is a 3-billion hotel project which opened on October 2015 and will become the first businessman’s hotel in Quezon City. Novotel Manila, is a member of the  global hospitality giant Accor Group, which also the company behind Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

Novotel Manila houses 4 dining destinations, namely Food Exchange (the buffet restaurant), Gourmet Bar (gourmet food) and Pool Bar and Lounge (offers BBQ and drinks) and Premier Lounge. (for bespoke private and exclusive dining and events). I was fortunate to be invited to try their menu offerings at Gourmet Bar a couple of days ago with other Zomato.

The Gourmet Bar offers gourmet cuisine. This is a  a chic and relaxed dining area in the hotel where one can enjoy freshly brewed coffee or a refreshing drink; delightful bar favorites like tapas, mozza, bocadillos and reinventions of Filipino dishes with fresh organic ingredients to go along with your own signature mix.

Gourmet Bar is a place where you can eat as much as you drink. The design of the area is very open and inviting yet with the spirit of cocooning and comfort. The atmosphere is nothing but sleek and relaxing. As for the food, Novotel Manila keeps it authentic and fresh by hiring world-class chefs and farming most of their own ingredients.

For this foodie meet-up, we were served with Gourmet Bar's best-sellers: 

Complimentary Bread and Butter 

Gambas - this tapas dish is packed full of flavor and not too oily

Norwegian Smoked Salmon with Chives Burrata and Avruga Caviar - in house smoked  salmon and chives burrata garnish with crispy violet potato and avruga caviar. Salmon is one of my favorite fish in the world, so I'm giving this a thumbs up; I didn't taste much of the caviar though. 

Dinakdakan - grilled pork head parts with calamansi and soy sauce foam. This dish reminded me so much of sisig because I've tried other dinakdakans and they tasted different from this one. The dinakdakan I know is sour, this was quite salty but I enjoyed it anyway. 

Black Linguine with Talangka Paste - home made black pasta with talangka (crab) paste local farmed rocket and crispy Maya-Maya cubes.Gourmet Bar makes their pasta fresh. This by far is my fave of all the dishes that we got to try. It's weird, but I love how the pasta was quite chewy, the crab wasn't over powering and the Maya-Maya definitely added texture to this pasta dish. 

Pizza Pampanga - mozzarella cheese, pork tocino, longganisa. This is an innovative twist to the usual pizza. The only thing that I didn't like is that the longganisa used was sweet, and I am not a fan of sweet longganisa's. I wish they'd used the salty types  to balance everything. Just my two cents though.

Poletto Alla Griglia - grilled organic baby chicken from Pandora's farm served with roasted rosemary potato and lemon wedges. The chicken was marinated for 24 hours and roasted under fire hot grill. You can definitely taste the flavor and smokiness in the meat, but TBH it was quite dry.

Ginataang Halo-Halo - a concoction of Filipino flavors cooked in coconut milk. This local dessert always brings me back to my childhood. I was looking for more ingredients like jackfruit; though this was great. 

Chestnut Panna Cotta
- a chesnut flavor panna cotta with raspberry sauce. I honestly was not able to taste the chestnut flavor, but among the desserts served, this is my favorite.

- mixed fresh fruit with tiramisu espuma. A good average dessert that just makes you want to order coffee so as to complete the experience.

Mocktails: Virgin Madras (cranberry and orange juice) and Unleaded Cucumber (fresh cucumber, fresh lime, mint leaves, top up with soda)

Cocktails: Cosmopolitan
(vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau), Frozen Margarita (tequila white, triple sec, lime juice, orange juice, sour mix), Strawberry Daiquiri (white rum, fresh strawberries, triple sec and sour mix)

We also get to visit the Pool Bar and Lounge at the 6th floor where they serve barbecues and drinks. During the day this area is a perfect setting to bask under the city sun and at night transforms into an outdoor club.

I was not feeling well that night that I had to leave; so I was not able to try what food and drinks are offered at the Pool Bar and Lounge. I'll probably just go back one of these days to check it out.

All in all, it was a great dining experience; especially that you get to meet new people who share the same love for food just like myself. I would love to go back and check out Novotel's buffet restaurant and the pool lounge bar. Also to have a staycation one of these days. Novotel is definitely a great addition to the food and entertainment scene in this area of Metro Manila; Cubao will never be the same again.
Gourmet Bar and Pool Bar and Lounge | Novotel Hotel Manila
General Aguinaldo Ave, Araneta Center, 
Quezon City, Philippines
Phone: (02) 990 7888
Website: www.novotel.com/gb/discovering-novotel-hotel/gourmet-bar.shtml

For more information and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Gourmet Bar - Novotel Manila Araneta Center Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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