Ampersand | And More

And. Conjunction. Per se. Intrinsically. And. Per se. Ampersand.

And so it began with a series of dinners called by one of and attended by a congregation of this Island’s Sex and the City spinoff characters. Way beyond ingénue but far from over the hill, mostly single, possibly attached and godmother to innumerable, hence, Tita. And this Tito is all too happy to tag along the Ultimatita on account of the food and drink involved. And The Glamarazzi assembled the group on short notice at this new haunt, Ampersand.

And the former Formo opened up to a beautiful deli-resto-bar chimera with a modern take on an old-world look. The long bar on one side promised a long night and next to that, a truly open kitchen — the first of its kind on The Island, promised epic epicurean delights with a deli display bordering the far end.

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And our gracious host, owner Chandra Mercado, immediately lubricated the guests with cocktails. I was handed a lowball of their Cebu Sour with Bourbon, homemade cardamom syrup, egg white and a local twist to mix by way of mango juice and a dehydrated green mango garnish. Ball ice kept it cool throughout without watering the drink down. Bacardi 8, Calamansi Shrub and Calamansi Liqueur came together in their pleasantly aggressive K9. Hendricks Gin, Basil, Mint and Strawberries combined to come out like an English Mojito with the rather sweet & fruity flavor appealing to the largely female group.

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And with the drinks came Salmon Tartare in cocktail spoons. The chopped, raw salmon gets a bit of a “cook” from the Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette, itself very mellow and only slightly herby still allowing the rich fish flavor, with Sous Vide Egg White as a counterbalance.

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And soups quickly followed, first, with the smoky puree of local squash in the Roasted Kalabasa Soup. The earthy pungency of the Truffle-Scented Mushroom Cappuccino extended to the substance of the soup with its almost meaty taste.

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And when came the mains they did and in a number and succession of one even more awesome than the previous. Southeast Asian, Indian and Mid-Eastern elements and flavors made the otherwise safe choice of poultry rather exotic in their Lemongrass-Turmeric & Ginger Chicken. A base of vegetable julienne and a topping of crunchy fritto misto added texture while some Baba Ghanoush helped temper the spice.

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And a parade of Chardonnay-glazed Salmon, Prawns, Squid & Tuna came crowning their creamy Seafood Risotto. Quite spectacular, the rice and toppings’ flavor did not fall short of the presentation with a bit of the sea in every bite.

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And a swath of beet sauce on a plate echoed the equally daunting color of the lamb done medium in the Thyme & Cumin Roasted Rack of Lamb. But any more heat would have killed the sweetness of that tender flesh. The minutely grainy couscous offset the richness of the meat though the green tea infusion was a little lost among the intensities. Vegetals cut through from the Ratatouille.

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And 32-day dry aged, corn-fed, US Prime Angus Rib Eye steaks came with assortments of sidings: Creamed Spinach, Garden Salad, Steamed Jasmine Rice, Mashed Potato, Pomme Frites. The steak was, again, and as it should be, done medium keeping it gloriously juicy on top of its marvelous marbling.

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And finally an assault of desserts to finish. A Citron-Green Tea Cheesecake eased us from the savories of the mains with the weight and creamy tartness of the lemon-glazed, yogurt cheesecake infused with a refreshingly faint hint of Green Tea

And a light and airy Pavlova held up under the weight of a pile of fresh Strawberries and Mango slices — the sweetness of icing and the sweet-sourness of the fruit bound by a syrup drizzle.

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And a Chocolate Ganache Cake came delightfully heavy as sin in the mouth. A piping hot cup of brewed coffee was called for then and in preparation for the death strike.

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And a Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie had us all keeling from the table. Crusty fudge coated an uber moist brownie bar.

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And drinks poured. And the night went on.

And. Conjunction. Per se. Intrinsically. And. Per se. Ampersand.

 

 

Ampersand / & is located at Banilad Town Center.

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