I posted earlier that we toured Istituto Culinario but I failed to mention that just right beside the school is Brasserie Cicou, a restaurant owned by institute partner Cyrille Soenen. Monsieur Soenen worked for years in the kitchens of Hotel Ritz in Paris, Duc D’Enghien, Le Drouant, and many more Michelin-rated restaurants before moving to the Philippines to be with his wife. He opened Restaurant Cicou in Hotel Celeste, Makati but it closed late last year. Brasserie Cicou is a resurrection but with a more French provincial, homey slant.
We went to Brasserie Cicou right after the school tour for degustation and I found almost everything served that night exquisite. My favorites were the egg cocotte with squash foam, cromesquis of sea urchin, chorizo de palmito, pork head pate, pork knuckles terrine, onglet poeler and pork rillette. I immediately sent an SMS to my foodie friend Eloisa and told her about the food I was eating and how toe-curling good they are. Since she trusts my recommendations, she immediately agreed that we must come there and dine as soon as possible. My friends and I are like that, we talk about our next meal when we haven’t even finished our current meal. Oh foodies!
Ambiance, Design & Space
Wednesday, I called Brasserie Cicou to make a reservation for Friday night. When Friday came though, we didn’t have to reserve since the restaurant was half empty. I think Filipinos generally avoid French food, thinking it’s too sophisticated or expensive. I have to admit some French restaurants give off that aura but Brasserie Cicou is not too expensive. The lay-out and decorations are simple and homey, not snooty at all.
Brasserie Cicou is big. I think it can sit 50 people comfortably. Furniture is wooden and rustic. Lamps are scattered all throughout the restaurant and the lights can be dimmed to fit whatever occasion.
The staff are very attentive and they know everything the restaurant has to offer. Their pronunciation of the different French cuisine is precise. They also know how to pair wine with our orders.
Food and Price
So there we were on a Friday night. We took Lorelene, another friend, with us. I was saddened to learn that most of the food during the degustation were especially created for the event and I couldn’t order them that night. The food we got more than made up for this though. We decided to just try their tapas because we couldn’t decide on our main course. We will save it for our next excursion.
L’Assiette de Pates (P310) is their pate sampler. It consists of Pork Rillettes, Pate en Croute and Pork Head. It comes with fresh baby pickles and mustard. We loved all the pates in this platter. My favorite is the sinful Pork Head because of the big chunks of fat.
Arlettes of Chorizo (P190) are toasted bread topped with chorizo bits. It was crisp, light and simple but still flavorful. This is a good appetizer because it won’t dampen your appetite.
Merquez Sausage on Toasted Baguette (P190) is an explosion of flavors one you pop one in your mouth. This mixture of lamb, beef, and spices is so perfect with the Cabernet Sauvignon we had.
Egg Cocotte with Three Cheeses (P200) is one of my favorites. This dish served in a ramekin is oh so creamy and delectable. It is heavy on the stomach but that’s good. The three cheeses didn’t overpower the taste of the egg so the way it was cooked was perfect.
The Marinated Sardines and Herbed Goat Cheese in Toasted Baguette (P190) was a wrong choice. It didn’t go very well with our other choices but on its own, it would have been good. The sardines completely washed out the taste of of our other food.
Blood Sausage with Mashed Potato and Caramelized Apple wasn’t in the menu but they always serve this according to the waiter. I was looking for blood sausage that’s why we got this. This is hands down the best food we ate that night. The blood sausage is so earthy. Try eating this in different ways: blood sausage and mashed only, blood sausage and mashed with rock salt, blood sausage and mashed and the caramelized apple…so many combinations possible and all different results! You’ll think you’re eating different kinds of food when in fact it’s just one dish. I will definitely order this again on my next visit because it made Eloisa and I cry. It was that good.
To top the night off, we had Kouing-Aman (P280) for dessert. I wanted to share with Eloisa but she was being greedy and wanted one all to herself. Kouing-Aman is a decadent dessert made of caramelized laminated sweet dough and is served with salted caramel ice cream. It is very rich, it melts in your mouth, and the salted caramel dough and ice cream are sublime. I was able to finish mine fast but Eloisa only finished half of hers because it is very rich. See, Eloisa, I told you we should have shared.
I highly recommend that you try Brasserie Cicou even once. Try French provincial comfort food at its finest. It will be an unforgettable culinary experience and it will be better if you share the experience with friends.
57 Annapolis St.
Greenhills, San Juan