The table is set for Baguio’s bounty and the highlands flavors
The crux of international hotel chains lies in the homogeneity of its offerings – it’s good when it comes to expectations regarding service and facilities. However, it’s less than welcome if we’re talking about food. At a time when locavore eating is encouraged, it’s a pity that oftentimes when you eat in different branches of a certain hotel or restaurant chain, you get more of the same flavors, same dishes, same offerings. It’s even more lamentable when we’re talking of Baguio as a branch location, as the city offers a bounty of produce as well as traditional food from the highlands.
Good thing that Executive Chef Alwin Mantuano has a non-conformist bent as well as an adventurous palate. It takes guts to overhaul the menu of Lamisaan, Holiday Inn – Baguio’s restaurant and put into place a food philosophy that reflects the wealth of flavors of Baguio and its neighboring environs. It’s a heady mix of “farm-to-table” and local, traditional flavorful inspirations.
We got started on Roasted Pumpkin and the Forest Mushroom Soups served in Sourdough Boule,; liking the latter very much than the former, we even ate much of the flaky sourdough bread that served as bowls (the kitchen bakes its own breads).
With the abundance of veggies in Baguio, we take on the Carpaccio di La Trinidad with great expectations. It’s a wonderful amalgamation of beetroot carpaccio, fresh salad greens (mainly from La Trinidad, Benguet) with wild fern, watercress, Sagada orange and feta cheese laced with honey-calamansi dressing. We also liked the Highland Greens ala Nicoise, the pepper-crusted seared tuna really melding beautifully with the greens and lemon vinaigrette.
Since we visited on a November weekend, we got a taste of the ongoing Ilocano-themed food offerings mainly built around bagnet. You may think it’s either too overwhelming or too narrow an inspiration when it comes to possibilities but no, we had a great time going back and forth the buffet tables for more of mini pizzas made with bagnet and Vigan longganisa bits; the beef brisket braised in a sauce spiced with Ilocos garlic; even just the plain bagnet slices the skin of which were crunchy, the meat and fat salted just right (the kitchen makes and dries its own bagnet using patis instead of salt, hence the more flavorful salty goodness). It’s so good that we requested Chef Alwin to make some of the bagnet-laced dishes available even if the restaurant shifts to another theme come December.
If you’re hankering for pasta, we highly recommend the Carbonara Nouveau, a chewy, creamy concoction of artisanal pasta with 64 degree eggs and traditional Kiniing bits (local dried bacon). The egg is served sunny side up on top of the pasta for you to break the yolk and mix with the pasta while the bowl is hot. Of all the many dishes we tasted, this one was certainly the most memorable of the lot.
Now, if you want a burger, the Lamisaan Wagyu Burger, is not to be missed. Sure, we’ve heard and sampled quite a lot of Wagyu burgers before but Chef Alwin made good on his promise that this will be different. For starters, he prefers to patronize Kitayama beef (from another highland, this time down south), 1/3 pound of which finds its way on buttery brioche. We had ours served the purist way – with classic dressing, Baguio lettuce, tomatoes, and onions though Chef Alwin’s patronage of my favorite Malagos cheeses surely bodes well for the Four-Cheese version (next time!).
We suggest you drop by at Lamisaan for a taste of and inspired by the highlands next time you find yourself in Baguio.
Lamisaan (an Ilocano word for table) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as for snack; stay-in and walk-in guests are welcome.
Operating Hours: Open daily from 6AM – 10PM.
Location: ground floor of Holiday Inn Baguio
Address: 56 Legarda Road, Baguio City
Telephone Number: (63 74) 6203333
Email: [email protected]
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