MANILA – One of the newest restaurants in the metro is taking its inspiration from the old and distant past.
The aptly named Nostalgia Dining Lounge at the Oakwood Premier–Joy Nostalg Center has replaced Oakroom, which had been the hotel’s main F&B outlet since it opened at the Ortigas Center over five years ago. The new restaurant still carries Oakroom’s stately ambience with masculine touches that suggest power, although it feels airier and brighter now.
The main dining area of Nostalgia. Photo: Handout
The “lounge” in the name is quite descriptive of the interiors since seating at Nostalgia is not limited to the usual dining setup but also includes sofas and armchairs. The focal point is an accent wall displaying a well-curated selection of antiques -- think typewriter, gramophone and old whiskey bottles – that amplify the homey, Town & Country vibe of the space.
Also new are the three themed, private function rooms. The biggest, Old Manila, which can seat up to 14 guests, evokes turn-of-the-century Filipino with framed old photographs, while Cosmopolitan Shanghai, which can accommodate up to six guests, features vibrant upholstery and details and an old-fashioned floral wall pattern.
The most striking of the three is the French-inspired Bohemian Paris, which also seats up to six, and is done in pink with a classic French architectural motif. This would perhaps be the perfect setting to enjoy the special dishes of Oakwood’s resident French executive chef, Jerome Cartailler.
The menu of Nostalgia necessarily features “an array of cross-continental classic cuisine and a touch of Asian,” since it functions as the main dining outlet for Oakwood’s checked-in guests.
In keeping with its name, it also includes the most requested a la carte dishes of its regulars when the restaurant was still called Oakroom. It has also kept the buffet, with an international selection of dishes, including Filipino favorites, which guests have come to expect when dining in a hotel.
Chef Cartailler, however, has included his own favorites based on family recipes from France.
Chef's Terrine. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
A good dish to kick off a meal at Nostalgia is the Chef’s Terrine (P425), which is listed as one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. According to the chef, this pork and veal terrine flavored with Cognac is an original recipe from three generations “lovingly created by my dear grandmother who adored and loved good food, high quality ingredients, and great flavors.”
This is definitely a rustic dish that perfectly fits the restaurant’s nostalgic bent – a nod to the old culinary ways. “A terrine requires time to be prepared, to allow the balance of flavors to blend during the process of marinating to slow baking,” the chef wrote in the menu notes.
Onion Gratine. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
Follow this up with the French classic soup, Onion Gratine (P375). According to Cartailler, the recipe dates back to before he decided to pursue a culinary career.
“I have on many occasions tried to remove my Onion Gratine from the menu, and when I do, I am repeatedly asked for it. So, as a result of its popularity, it is back,” he wrote.
It is easy to understand why people would look for it. It is rich and flavorful and Cartailler obviously didn’t scrimp on ingredients. The blend of Emmenthal cheese gives the soup that gooey, hearty quality.
Berkshire Pork “Milanese.” Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
For the main course, Cartailler served his take of the Italian staple Osso Bucco, listed on the menu as Berkshire Pork “Milanese” (P615) Instead of risotto, however, the chef opted to serve it with gremolata-buttered fettuccine and bone marrow crostini.
Using “only the best quality of pork cuts in the world,” the Berkshire, he braised the meat in a blend of white wine, orange, saffron and tomato. The result is a tender, old-fashioned entrée worthy of the restaurant’s sentimental taste.
(The other chef’s suggestion is pan-seared macadamia-crusted Norwegian salmon at P895. “This healthy dish has been a regular dish from time to time over the past five years but due to its popularity it is back once again. It is also recognized as a favorite dish of our owners,” the chef said of this dish.)
Deconstructed Black Forest cake. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
For dessert, Nostalgia is best known for its deconstructed Black Forest cake (P325). All the components of this popular dessert are here -- the chocolate cake, cherries, whipped cream and kirsch – and even just a single bite reminds diners why this cake – and classics like it -- will never go out of style.
Nostalgia Dining Lounge
6/F Oakwood Premier-Joy Nostalg Center
ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City