A few years since opening their doors, La Cabrera (the Argentinian restaurant located at the heart of Makati City) is now a staple in the Manila culinary scene. Night after night, happy diners flock to 6750 Ayala Avenue for their fill of exquisitely made South American food fare. The brainchild of a group of foodie friends, it is the first and only Asian branch of the famous Buenos Aires eatery. Founded by Chef Gaston Riveira in 2002, there are now 10 branches around the world, with the latest expecting to debut in Dubai soon. Riveira’s first branch is a highly reputable restaurant, with patrons lining up on the street for a chance to eat the perfectly cooked steak, which has rightfully made them world famous. The Philippine branch is no different, with Riveira checking in at least once a year to make sure everything is running smoothly.
The restaurant, which has been recognized four times by Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, have recently been stepping up their game. Their local head chef has just returned from a 15-day culinary excursion to Argentina, and has brought home new and exciting recipes that will surely titillate the taste buds of any food lovers. Their recently launched lunch menu boasts new highlights such as the Pamplona de Pollo (Chicken Pamplona) and the Milanesa de Carne Napolitana (Prime Striploin with Provolone Cheese). In addition, La Cabrera is offering their patrons a stellar new Happy Hour Promo. On weekdays, get 40% off on their menu between 5:00-6:30 PM. This doesn’t only include their selection of cocktails and tasty Lagarde wines, but also their food items! Imagine ordering a Ojo de Bife (a large, 400g melt-in-your mouth rib-eye steak) with unlimited sides for such a good prince. Early dinner is in session, folks.
Go Big or Go Home
The new lunch menu offers an array of interesting flavors that is distinctly South American. When starting a meal at La Cabrera, it is go big or go home, because it is suggested to order multiple appetizers. This is because you’re in for a rich meal, and the best way to prepare for that is starting rich as well. Before going heavy on the flavor, try the salad called Ensalada de Palta, Tomates y Albahaca. It is the ideal opener, introducing your palette with a symphony of fresh flavors like avocado, tomatoes and egg. Follow it up with the restaurant’s sinful, yet delightful Camembert with Apple Chutney, which is just the right amount of savory and sweet. Each bite is an explosion of flavor on the mouth. The cheese is smooth and flavorful, and the apple chutney is just the right amount of chunky, resulting to a welcomed and interesting texture. La Cabrera’s fluffy bread basket is also well complimented with an additional order of melted Provoleta cheese with bacon and basil. Don’t be shy, smear as much on your bread as you like. Following the restaurant’s unified theme of using a grill, the latter two appetizers are both prepared in the restaraunt’s specially built in-house grill. The smokey taste is one to savor.
The Stars of the Show
La Cabrera is very popular for their steaks. Lunch there means multiple beef dishes on the table. When the appetizer courses finished, the meats were brought out from the kitchen. All of my companions had wide eyes and frothy mouths because it was a sight to be behold. “The stars of the show are here!” everyone chanted. Each steak in the restaurant is made with love in their large, man-made oven built specially for achieving the perfect medium rare steak with a charred coat on the outside (just as Mr. Riveira would serve it in Argentina)!
The Coullote Steak (served in a very generous 500g cut) is the Pope’s favorite. When it touches your tongue, and begins to melt in your mouth, I assure you, it might be your new preferred cut as well. Excitement arose further when the eatery’s famous Ojo de Bife (Rib Eye Steak) was being carved. No words can describe how tender and juicy it is. The restaurant prides themselves for always cooking the perfect steak. And I agree entirely, because La Cabrera’s track record has been faultless. Whether eating there for a media event or simply going with the family to sooth any steak cravings, they hardly disappoint. The Rib Eye served that day was a very large cut, and the chef shared that it was done sous vide style before going into the grill. It is important to note that one minute too late left on the grill could affect the steak’s doneness instantly, but La Cabrera hits the nail on the head every time.
New menu items that appeared on the lunch menu were the Milanesa de Carne Napolitana and the Pamplona de Pollo. Both of which are inspired and surprising creations. The Milanesa dish is a prime striploin topped with melted provolone cheese. A new personal favorite for me would be the Pamplona. Similar to a chicken cordon blue, it appeared to a round loaf of chicken covered in bacon. When you slice it, you will discover that it stuffed with tomatoes and cheese. Each bite is worth it, as the textures begin to play on your tongue. Chicken dishes like this are often lost when breading over powers it. But not for this one. Each chunk has that lovable, distinct taste of poultry. It is thick and very filling, and very similar to eating a turkey breast, and yet it wasn’t dry. In fact, it was full of flavor. Other new lunch items to note are their new selections of Argentinean salads and pastas. Next time, I will surely try the LC Signature Burger (the menu describes it as being served with Papas Fritas and ailo sauce…just the kind of the thing I could go for on a busy work day).
A Plate of Sweet Joy
Each time I dine at La Cabrera, I look forward to eating a large cut of Chocotorta, their version of the traditional Argentinean birthday cake that playfully mixes mouse, chocolate, and dulce de leche. However, they’ve introduced their new Dulce de Leche Mousse, which was served to us that day. I can report that the dessert truly captures the essence of South American cuisine (dulce de leche being so famous in that region). It was decorated with a sugar shard and a candied orange on top, which were delicious too. Luckily, I still got my fill of Chocotorta as well, because the restaurant now offers a degustation of their desserts in a single platter. It was a plate of sweet joy with a medley of confections covering reach corner. A new obsession I have is their Pavlova, which was fluffy on the inside but hard like a meringue on the outside.
Lastly, never forget to ask for wine recommendations at the restaurant. They are well-stocked with a selection of Lagarde wines that match any and all dishes. The Rose and Blanc De Noir 2014 were fun to drink, especially with the summer’s heat outside. On the other hand, the brand’s premium Malbec DOC 2013 varietal is the ideal pair to the meats served. If you’re a wine and food lover, keep in mind the 40% discount during weekday evenings. It is the right time to binge and treat yourself after a hard day’s work. Because what is life without sinful culinary treats here and there? Or for La Cabrera’s case, we’d be open to doing it every day of the week.
La Cabrera is located at 6750 Ayala Avenue Business Tower, Glorietta Complex, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Philippines. For reservations or inquiries phone 0905 290 0703 or 833 89 46.
Photography by Yukie Sarto