Hanging on the walls of Raffles Makati’s newest upscale brasserie are murals depicting a tragic love story set in France’s countryside region of Provence. The commissioned artworks are inspired by a poem written by Provence’s “favorite son” and Nobel Prize winner Fredric Mistral. It tells the story of Mirèio, the daughter of a rich farmer who falls in love with a poor basket weaver named Vincent. Mirèio journeys from the countryside to the coasts of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to pray to the patron saints for her parents’ approval. However, Mirèio weakens on her journey and dies tragically in Vincent’s arms.
The poem became popular throughout Provence because of Mistral’s homage to his hometown and the culture of the French Mediterranean region. Raffles Makati chooses to do similarly by naming their new French brasserie after the literary character. Mirèio features dishes created by French Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Cegretin, offering traditional Provençal cuisine with modern plating.
The mood and colors at midday in the sun-drenched 9th floor restaurant are reminiscent of the French province. White, mustard, teal and gold hues recall an afternoon in the sunny Provence countryside. Tabletops are simple and clean with white linen and a single sheet of crisp paper like in traditional French brasseries. Sunflowers and lavender blooms add an outdoor feel to the 77-seater restaurant. There is a private dining room for more intimate events, that accommodates 10 people co0mfortably.
Images telling the story of Mirèio are found in all corners of the space. Besides the walls, the poem is in flatware of the private salon, and the antique book at the reception area. The restaurant’s logo is fashioned to recreate the handwriting of Fredric Mistral himself.
Chef Nicolas works in a spacious kitchen hidden by hundreds of olive oil bottles lining the walls. The Provence-born Chef recalls dishes from home, invoking the French countryside onto a plate. There is a selection of rich appetizers raging from escargot to beef tartar and lentil soup served with a generous portion of foie gras. Listed here are three recommended dishes to order at the French brasserie:
Traditional Puff Pastry Stuffed with chicken and foie gras
The smell of fresh bread has always been a Mirèio trademark. It wafts through the air straight from the kitchen door and recalls French bakeries at the break of day. It is a treat to order a dish that infuses bread and a favorite protein. The Traditional Puff Pastry stuffed with chicken and foie gras is set atop a poultry foam and mesclun. It is the eatery’s version of a stuffed empanada, although larger in size and elegantly executed, bursting with flavor. Foie gras is not treated as simply a novelty, but as an ingredient to enhance the dish as a whole. It is spread out through the stuffing, making each bite tastier with the French delicacy.
The Butcher’s Cut
Steaks are also cooked in a traditional Provençal style, maximizing the butcher’s cut to its most tender. The large slab of meat sits gloriously on a clean white plate without any pretense. It looks mouthwatering and gorgeous, as steaks should be. The generous cut is served with a selection of side dishes that include a salad and potato wedges. There are no doubts that steak cravings can be satisfied at the French bistro.
The Apple Tart Tatin
French desserts are taken as seriously as the main dishes at Mirèio. The wide selection at the restaurant features Provençal twists on classic confections. Although, the lavender crème brulee with lemon madeleine and roasted compote provencale is as delicious as it is creative, the Apple Tart Tatin is the piece de resistance. A large scoop of Vanilla ice cream sits on a tender, caramelized apple with crust, while thinly cut slices of crisp apple stand firmly around it like a crown. Mirèio would have been pleased.
Mirèio is located at the 9th floor of the Raffles Hotel Makati. For reservations phone (02) 795 0707.
By Chino R. Hernandez
Photography by Hub Pacheco