Chef Chris Leaning has been a long lover of the Philippines and has had an extensive culinary career across the country for over a decade with stints in hotels and restaurants in Manila, Tagaytay, and even Palawan. As one of the few members of the World Master Chefs Society based in the country, he recently brought his talents to Planet Grapes as their new Executive Chef to give their menu his signature English touch, reinvigorating their fare with new flavors that appeal to the local taste and, of course, paired well with a glass of vino.
Spanish Style Croquettes
A crunchy start to the meal, these bite-sized croquettes are a savory and gooey treat filled with parma ham for some salty chew and Emmental cheese for a mild creamy taste. The filling is carried by a thick creamy béchamel sauce blending together the flavors of the ham and cheese. The croquettes are served with a dollop of tomato ragout each for some sauce and a slight sour kick to balance the creaminess of the filling. This pairs nicely with their Sand Point Pinot Noir with its fruity and vanilla notes that accent the savory cheesiness of the dish.
Grilled Prawns Salad
This salad brings a vibrant taste of the sea with its grilled warm water prawns brushed with garlic butter for a richer, fuller flavor. The prawns act as the main protein of the dish with the rest of the salad consisting of mixed greens and a simple lemon dressing that highlight the prawns as the main event of the dish. To bring out more of the salad’s profile, you can pair it with a glass of Te Mania Gewurztraminer, a rich and silky white wine with a slight spice of ginger, cloves, and anise.
English Fish & Chips
Now to an iconically English treat, Chef Chris adds a local twist to this dish by using Lapu-Lapu for the fish instead of cod. The meatier chew of the Lapu-Lapu fits the beer-battered treatment as it hold its shape after deep-frying and doesn’t crumble when bit. The chips (thick-cut fries) are straightforward but another good note to the dish is its sauces. You have a creamy savory tartar sauce as well as a deeply pungent malt vinegar that brings out the true taste of the fish. To pair with, a Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc with its fruity and dry flavor.
Prime USDA Ribeye Steak
For the main dish, we got a hefty serving of their Ribeye Steak with its multitude of sides. The 250g Angus steak is served with creamy and rich mashed potatoes, some mixed veggies, and a savory Yorkshire pudding, yet another English touch. It’s served with gravy made from the steak’s juices and horseradish sauce. The dish is a full meal in itself with the steak as the main act. The horseradish adds a kick of earthen spice to balance the juices of the beef. The fullness of the dish is best with a glass of Lady Laroze, rich, smooth, and dense–its strong flavor goes well with the many elements of the dish.
Zucchini & Penne Telephono
This vegetarian pasta dish doesn’t hold back on flavor with sautéed green zucchini tossed with penne pasta and tomato ragout. The dish gets a creamy topping of grilled mozzarella cheese for a charred savoriness. Though lacking in meat, the dish is still packed with flavor from the grilled cheese and tomato sauce, as well as the subtle savory taste of the sautéed zucchini. The warm freshness of the pasta dish goes well with Hugel Pinot Noir that is intensely fruity which goes well with the pasta’s heavy cheese taste.
Warm Apple & Cinnamon Crumble
Chef Chris gives a taste of his homeland with a warming apple crumble for dessert. The mellowed tartness of the apples is complemented with the warm sweetness of the cinnamon. Warming with a crunchy crust, this sweet experience is elevated with a side of vanilla Creme Anglaise for a creamy ending to the meal, which tastes just like Christmas.
Overall, Chef Chris has imbued many English flavors into Planet Grapes’ new dishes while still appealing to local sentiments and taste. A diverse roster of dishes that blend English recipes with local preferences creating a unique experience that doesn’t intimidate but welcomes newcomers to taste their myriad of a menu. Best of all, each dish has a layered flavor profile that is brought out by their wine selection which stays true to the Planet Grapes philosophy of “Wine Without the Drama.”
Planets Grapes is located at Ground Level, High Street Park, Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street Corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City and Level 1, North Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City. For inquiries and reservations, contact (02) 246-9069 ext: 557 for the Mandaluyong branch and (02) 246-9069 ext: 217 for the BGC branch.