I generally avoid fine dining perhaps because I’ve been around it so much. It kind of reminds me of work, I spend more money and quite often leave disappointed. There are plenty of casual spots in town I would much rather go to.
Too often they will capture the look of a fine dining restaurant but not the substance, the meat of it. Manila in particular still has a long way to go to start opening true fine dining restaurants. Too often they capture the look of a fine dining restaurant (and the price) but when it comes to the substance, the meat of it, they ring hollow.
Lusso was opened Margarita Fores in Greenbelt 5 in 2009. The name is Italian but the menu reflected more of French or even American slant with a number of classic brasserie foods and sandwiches.
The interior is really well done by Jorge Yulo in beige and amber tones, featuring a large chandelier from the ballroom of the Peninsula Manila. There are nice cushiony chairs and the waiters and the napkins are both starched and pressed.
The service was well-meaning. They clearly had some training and had the best of intentions (which really is the most important thing). However from a technical (timing, communication, service technique) standpoint they were a bit awkward.
I actually got a little bit excited when I saw some of the items on the menu. Foie gras everywhere, bone marrow, confit de canard (duck confit), what’s not to love? First to arrive were the Truffle Chips. It’s an old trick but a good one. Even with the fake truffle oil they just taste good.
Someone at our table ordered the Bone Marrow Vol-au-vent. It really seemed more like a passed hors d’oeuvre than a plated appetizer. I also stole a bite of the Demi Pound Burger (foie gras, cambozola bath, prosecco onions) that Lusso is known for. The burger was good but the foie was also not really detectable. I’m starting to notice an alarming trend develop here.
Of the two dishes I ordered both were disappointing. I began with the Foie Gras Brûlée. Maybe I was expecting something different and maybe I should have asked first, but it was really just a crème brûlée with the addition of a barely detectable quantity of foie gras. The foie was in small pieces in the center of what was otherwise a dessert. It was served with toast points but did not go well with bread. This dish suffers from a clear identity crisis.
So, a swing and a miss. Fine, let’s move on. I was still quite excited for my Confit de Canard. It looked really nice when it arrived and just as I was about to ask for Dijon the waiter brought some French whole grain mustard. Galing! The salad greens were very fresh and dressed perfectly with a nice pungent vinaigrette but the potato purée was completely unseasoned and had a bit of a gloppy texture.
But then I cut into the confit. The skin peeled off in one limp swath. Grrr! Now it’s personal! Clearly the skin had been fried, but then something else must have occurred. Either it was covered and allowed to steam soggy or it was microwaved. Either way I don’t care because they’re both amateur mistakes. The meat was also quite salty.
All mistakes were forgivable up to this point but now they’ve ruined my favorite bistro dish. I guess now I should get to work on a confit de canard to redeem this experience.
In conclusion Lusso might be a nice place to go for a glass of wine in the afternoon with some light snacks. The ambiance is nice and they do have some good small dishes to have with drinks. I would not order the more expensive dishes on the menu because they make big promises they can’t keep. In keeping with the name, Lusso’s menu showcases a number of luxury ingredients. Unfortunately these luxury ingredients don’t really carry a presence to the plate.