The extra spacious Mirèio pre-lockdown days (Photo courtesy of Raffles Makati)
Food & Drink Restaurants

When the food is good and the safety is assured, a fancy date during COVID can still work

At Mirèio in Raffles Makati, a dinner date is well worth the enhanced protocols to enjoy the French-Mediterranean fare, good wine, and attentive service
NANA OZAETA | Oct 29 2020

I didn’t realize how much I missed everything about a fancy restaurant meal until the server poured me that first glass of white wine. It happened one recent Friday evening at Mirèio, the elegant French-Mediterranean restaurant located on the ninth floor of Raffles Makati. Except for a handful of hurried fast food lunches, this was my first time to dine out at a full-service restaurant and it was well worth it—hand sanitizers, face masks, and all. 

In all honesty, I never really hankered to eat out during this lockdown. I was happily resigned to enjoying our family meals, whether home-cooked or ordered for takeout. I rationalized that it wasn’t worth going through the safety measures and risks of transmission just for a good meal when we were already eating pretty well at home.

But after months and months of family dining, my husband and I were in real need of a bit of escape, and Mirèio was an easy choice for our first “date night” since lockdown. We’ve dined there many times in the past and always enjoyed the light-ish French fare, proper service, and beautiful setting. 

Open for dine-in service since September 2, Mirèio has several built-in advantages for a safe dining experience. The main dining area is very spacious, with tables set far apart, and with high ceilings and expansive windows that make the space feel even bigger. The restaurant also converted Mistral, its adjacent upstairs terrace bar, into an outdoor dining area for those who prefer to dine al fresco. 

The rooftop bar Mistral now converted into a safe outdoor dining space for Mirèio (Photo courtesy of Raffles Makati)

Aside from Mirèio’s ideal space, I was also confident the Raffles team would go over and beyond the government-mandated guidelines to ensure the safety of their customers and personnel. As part of the Accor Group, Raffles & Fairmont Makati has implemented Accor’s ALLSAFE label which represents “some of the most stringent cleaning standards and operational protocols in the world of hospitality,” according to a press release. Under the ALLSAFE label, measures include enhanced cleanliness protocols, staff training, and food safety standards, along with new guest contact measures, as outlined on the Accor website. In addition, the hotels are independently certified by Bureau Veritas, an internationally recognized leader in inspection, certification, and laboratory testing services. 

Discreet yet visible signs placed throughout the restaurant to remind diners to keep their distance and sanitize their hands

At Fairmont & Raffles Makati, these measures were clearly in evidence. Even before entering the Raffles lobby, an attendant checked our names against a list of reserved diners, took our temperatures, and had us fill up health declaration forms, before we could step inside. It felt a bit strange, though, to see the once bustling Raffles lobby now quiet and darkened, with Long Bar and Writers Bar still closed, and the area blocked off. Whatever sadness I felt at the empty lobby was soon forgotten, however, upon entering Mirèio and being greeted by masked staff who welcomed us graciously with their smiling eyes. 

Since it was raining, we opted to dine indoors and settled for a window-side table at the far end of the dining room. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, even if a number of other tables were occupied. They were far enough away we didn’t even notice they were there.

Cozy chairs and space aplenty in Mirèio’s main dining room

At our table, we were allowed to remove our masks and face shields, with the provision of a plastic face mask holder to fold our face masks into for our convenience. Our server brought us the menus and poured water, and before taking our order, made sure to mention that, per a Makati City ordinance, we would only be allowed two drinks per person (or one bottle of wine to share between us) with our dinner. While that may have put a damper on some people’s drinking choices, I was more than happy to comply as the server poured me a Château Roubine Blanc Côtes de Provence from France, perfectly chilled, that elicited that aforementioned realization of how much I had missed this kind of dining.

A chilled glass of French white wine to start a relaxed and safe dinner

The Mirèio menu offers a lot of choices, whether expensive indulgences like Baeri caviar and French foie gras, or simpler starters like a Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad or a Zucchini and Basil Soup. Among the mains, there was Grilled Australian Stockyard Beef Rib Eye, as well as a more homey Free Range Chicken Supreme. My husband and I opted for dishes we couldn’t enjoy at home. For me, it was a refreshing Salmon Tartare, followed by Roasted Lamb Filet which, upon the suggestion of our server, I paired with a glass of Zenato Valpolicella red from Italy. My husband kept it meat-free with a Crustaceans Bisque with lobster salpicon and a Pan-Seared Snapper with Romesco sauce.

Salmon Tartare with ikura and yuzu ponzu dressing

We didn’t hold back with dessert, though, as we ordered a must-have chocolate mousse-ice cream-truffle cake extravaganza, along with a lovely Red Berries Mille-Feuilles with Madagascar vanilla mousseline cream with berries compote and berries sorbet.

65% Maracaibo mousse with chocolate ice cream, truffle cake, and hazelnut crunch

If I wanted to, I could micro-analyze every bite, grade each dish, and critique the overall experience, but frankly, it wasn’t that kind of evening. After months of fine dining hibernation, I wanted to simply enjoy this dinner, one that only a professionally trained team can pull off. And throughout the meal, I could only marvel at and appreciate the staff’s efforts to work through the enhanced safety protocols, excel at their jobs, and satisfy their customers.

When our server poured me that glass of white wine, I remembered why I have always loved a bit of fancy dining. It wasn’t just about the dishes themselves, but the tiny gestures and little details that can make such a meal so special. The wine perfectly chilled and poured into a delicate crystal glass, the starched white napkins, the basket of still-warm bread placed at the table, the water goblet constantly refilled. They may seem minor, but they all add up, lending to a sense of relaxation and pleasure that you can’t replicate at home. Worries are set aside, our bleak future is temporarily ignored, and the moment is enjoyed for what it is.

Mirèio is open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday, 5 to 10 pm, and for Sunday Brunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. On October 29, Spectrum opens for lunch from Thursday to Saturday with a new dining concept called “buffet a la minute” offering an unlimited choice of dishes prepared fresh and à la minute for P1,990++ per person. To reserve, visit www.raffles.com/makati/dining