My wife and I previously tried to dine at Antonio’s, a hidden gem, but our adventure turned into a travesty as we missed our appointment due to crazy, crazy traffic heading to Tagaytay (thanks PNPA!) and the wrong marker on Waze/Google Maps. We decided to leave earlier this time and grab a map off Antonio’s official website.
We received a gift certificate to Antonio’s at our wedding earlier this year. We were saving the certificate for a special occasion and on July 4 (Happy American Independence Day) we decided to celebrate our 36th month as a couple.
Antonio’s has received stellar praise from magazines and websites. It was proclaimed to be the best restaurant in the Philippines and one of the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia, according to 300-plus industry experts across Asia (Source:http://manila.coconuts.co/2015/03/09/asias-50-best-restaurants-2015). As a lover of food, how can you not be excited about this?
My wife and I fell in love with Antonio’s the moment we arrived. The restaurant is classy and it caters to the upper echelon of Philippine society (whatever that means). Right away I felt out of place and waited for someone to tell me to tuck my shirt. But whatevs…
We arrived early and were encouraged to roam the grounds. I’m glad we explored the area, because apart from the restaurant itself, the garden and lanai lounge were way too nice to ignore.
Around 11:30 a.m., we were escorted to our table at the left wing of the restaurant. Since it was just my wife and me, we were seated by the window with two emperor chairs. It was our first time, so the waiter guided us through ordering. He explained that each entree is a set that comes with an appetizer (bread), house salad, soup of the day, a dessert, and coffee/tea. Each course can be upgraded to suit your taste. Steak is a popular dish, but my wife and I chose to be more adventurous. My wife had roast duck and I had lamb ribs.
Nothing too exciting about the bread (except that it smelled and tasted of olives!). The house salad was delightful — it was an assortment of leaves (organic mesclun), blue cheese (bleu d’Auvergne crumbled), glazed walnut, dried currants and cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette. The soup of the day was a creamy tomato soup, which was absolutely delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
For their entrees, I’m almost certain it’s served differently from time to time. My wife and I usually do research before we visit a restaurant, and what I received was different from what I saw on blogs and different than what’s described on Antonio’s website. I ordered the Lamb Ribs (P1,650 + 10%SC) which was supposed to be deboned. But I’m so grateful that mine wasn’t. I easily slid off the meat from the bones. It was that juicy, that soft. And the taste! Indescribable! Clearly the best ribs I’ve ever tasted! It came with a side of, what I thought was rice, but found out later was pasta shaped like rice (Risoni). The pasta was a bit strong for my taste, but it ended up complimenting the ribs quite well.
My wife ordered the roasted duck (P1,850 + 10SC%). At first, she was hesitant. Usually duck is dry and has a strong taste. We usually have to drown roast duck in other ingredients to make it edible, but Antonio’s duck was on a different level. It was juicy! It didn’t have a strong duck taste! It was really good! It came with a side of very mashed potatoes, what we thought was a type of cabbage, and pan seared foie gras. I haven’t had foie gras before, but once I found out what it is (fatty liver) I was shocked. I hate liver but the chef made it taste good!
We received a separate menu for the dessert. My wife ordered the Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardamom Creme and I ordered the Bombe Alaska with Raspberry and Dark Chocolate ice cream. Both were terrific. To top it off, we both ordered coffee.
You really have to appreciate Antonio’s food, service, decor, and atmosphere. It’s an experience. Everything was memorable. And now I want to go back.
I highly recommend this place if you have 2-3k in disposable income. A piece of advice for those who are curious:
-If you’re following Waze or Google Maps, search for “Antonio’s Cabana”and not “Antonio’s Restaurant.”
-Make a reservation. They ask you at the gate and won’t let you in without one.
-Ask the waiters about the food. They’re more than helpful.
-It’s best to go during the dry season when it’s cool. They only have one air conditioned room, and you won’t be able to enjoy their garden if it’s raining.
-It’s not accessible by public transportation. Trust me.
-Antonio’s is hard to find. They have limited signs. If you’re on Nasugbu highway heading towards Batangas, take the right at the Radar/Dome. There’s a big white sign saying ” Antonio’s” and below it another sign saying ” Cabana.” After that, just follow the signs saying “Antonio’s.” The gate doesn’t say “Antonio’s,” it’s just labeled with a fancy “A.”
-Antonio’s is strict on attire. Strictly smart casual — no form of slippers, beachwear, and gymwear allowed.
-Antonio’s will message you twice: once after you confirm your reservation and again the day before your appointment.