The Raffles Makati’s upscale brasserie Mirèio has garnered the reputation of being one of the top places in Manila to seek out authentic French cuisine. Inspired by the countryside region of Provençe, the dining experience begins when entering the doors of the eatery located at 9th floor of the luxury hotel. On the walls are commissioned artworks inspired by a poem written by Provençe’s favorite son, the Nobel Prize winning Fredric Minstral. He tells the tale of the Mirèio, a farmer’s daughter passionately in love with a penniless basket weaver named Vincent. As the young girl’s father disapproves of her feelings for the poor man, she travels from Provençe to the coasts of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, visiting all the patron saints and praying that her parents would change their minds. On her journey, she weakens and captures illness before tragically dying in the arms of Vincent.
Each wall in the restaurant symbolizes Mirèio’s tragic journey through colorful murals. Diners are easily transported to the sun-drenched French countryside where the story takes place upon entering. Tabletops are clean with white linens and a single sheet of crisp paper like traditional French brasseries. The 77-seater restaurant is also aromatic with the smell of sunflowers and lavender blooms. In the kitchen, new Chef de Cuisine Hervé Clair is whipping up dishes from his hometown of Provençe. He is a fitting new addition to the Raffles family, bringing in his brand of class and culinary pedigree into the famed restaurant.
Chef Hervé Clair began his career as an apprentice in Les Pins Penches, a gourmet restaurant located at the Château de Toulon in France. He then continued his studies under his culinary idol, the renowned chef Alain Ducasse, in three of his acclaimed restaurants: the La Bastide De Mouster in Provence, the Parisian bistro Aux Lyonnais, and Le Ralais du Parc at the Hotel Marriott Paris. Under Ducasse for seven years, Clair learned innovative new techniques to elevate French cuisine. He went on as the Sous Chef of Michelin-star restaurant Les Fables de la Fontaine in Paris, before joining the hotel industry in 2014 at the Hotel & Spa L’Alta Peyra in Saint Véran, France. Another impressive period in his resume include working as Chef Adjoint at the La Maisson 1888 in Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. This year, he helms the kitchen at the Raffles Makati’s Mirèio, coming full circle and serving dishes from his hometown to distinguished Filipino gastronomes.
At a preview of the new dining menu, Chef Hervé served new signature dishes which are now available at the restaurant. He opened the meal with a delightful appetizer of slow cooked octopus, white bean, salad, lemon confit and kalamata olives. The muted flavors of white bean were complimented well with a flavorful, tender cut of octopus and the zestful sting of lemon. To follow, a traditional Provençal pesto soup enchanted diners. The bright red color of the broth was just as delicious as it was appetizing to look at. The vegetables that accompanied the soup were refreshing to the palette, and recalled the cuisine of the countryside province easily.
For the fish course, a pan seared salmon with wilted spinach, tomato confit, and virgin citrus sauce was available for tasting. The salmon was ideally cooked and melted in the mouth. There was a pleasant surprise with the wilted spinach, which was very flavorful. Although not an unusual technique of cooking (spinach is boiled and then tossed with a dressing), Chef Hervé’s incorporation as a vegetable with the fish is absolutely faultless. When the fish course concluded, server’s brought out plates of crispy braised pork belly with potato, carrot, and green pea fricassee. The glowing brown color of the dish was mouthwatering. When placed on the table one can imagine hearing the crunch at first bite—and there the crunch was. Each bite exploded with pork juices flowing out of the tenderly cooked meat.
As usual, diners at Mirèio always look forward to dessert. One can recall the delicious apple tart tatin they used to serve, so expectations were high. Chef Hervé’s new signature sweet is an extra-large cream puff filled with salted caramel ice cream and nougatine. Imagine this as a little bigger then the palm of your hand. This was the pièce de résistance of the entire menu, and the perfect finale to a fine meal. Each bite of the confection was an experience on its own, as the Chef chose to mix two types of textures in one dessert. The well-made pastry and the soft caramel ice cream went together seamlessly, giving a playful sensation to the tastebuds. It was a dessert I wish never ended. Although it did, and faster than a speeding bullet, as me and other guests throughly enjoyed it and gobbled it up quickly.
Chef Hervé’s official welcoming to Mirèio was short and sweet. Although it’s a thrill to know that he is at the kitchen, available to whip up his interesting gastronomical fare when cravings for French cuisine call. Check out the brasserie this week to experience Provence in Manila through the wonders of food.
For more information please visit mireioatraffles.com.
By Chino R. Hernandez