Meat Mastery: A Look Into French Bistro 'Atelier Vivanda' by Chef Akrame Benallal (Opens February 2)

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A new French steakhouse helmed by two Michelin-starred Chef Akrame Benallal opens this week.

Atelier Vivanda first opened its doors in Paris in 2012, followed by a second branch in 2014. Just last year, the chef expanded the brand to Asia with a branch in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. This is not the chef's first foray into bringing his brand of food into Asia, as the widely acclaimed French chef earlier opened his Paris-born Restaurant Akrame, his Michelin starred restaurant, in Hong Kong. If Restaurant Akrame is a testament to the chef's finesse and creativity, expect his French bistro to be like so, but in a more warm and casual setting -- it's a steakhouse after all, and it will serve you the most exquisite combination of meat and potatoes to make you feel right at home.

Here's a peek into their specialties and what you need to try once Atelier Vivanda open to the public this February 2, 2016.

The menu and food formula here is simple: for P2,500, one gets to choose a starter (L'entree), a meat dish (La viande), its potato side (L'accompagnement) which allows unlimited servings, and a dessert. One of their starters is a dish of Soft boiled egg with cottage cheese, homemade mayonnaise and mushrooms that begins your feast on a high note -- the earthy slices of mushrooms meet with the silky and velvety textures of the egg without being too indulgent. There's still some steak, after all.

Soft boiled egg with cottage cheese, homemade mayonnaise and mushrooms

The potato accompaniments for your steak at Atelier Vivanda is exemplary -- the starchy sides, even if by their nature (and name) are meant to be the assisting dish to your hefty protein, are transformed into superstar sidekicks. It's not your typical steak-frites kind of pairing or haphazard slices of fries and chips here. We get the French way of potatoes, like Gratin Dauphinois (thinly sliced potatoes and crème fraîche), incredibly creamy deep fried potato puffs called Pommes Dauphine, and golden bars of Pommes Darphines, shredded potato cakes with onions, chives, and Brie. Again, these potatoes in many shapes and textures come in unlimited servings, and best when dipped into Chef Akrame's homemade ketchup with berries (so addicitingly good).

Pommes Dauphine

Pommes Darphines


Atelier Vivanda Manila will also feature a cheese bar on its second floor, from their French brand Brvt, the wine cellar of Chef Akrame known for their fine selection of wine, cheese, and charcuterie.

A sampling of French cheeses by Brvt
Fourme d'Ambert

Soon, just like in the other Atelier Vivanda branches, products curated by chef Akrame such as his Caractère olive oil and homemade Ketchup will be for sale. Meanwhile, these are incorporated into some of the dishes in the restaurant, and specially crafted steak knives are also brought into the Manila branch to assist in slicing your meats.

Caractère pepper-infused extra virigin olive oil
Homemade Ketchup
Custom-made knife

Meaty options for the set meals include Black Angus Skirt Steak, Black Angus Chuck Flap, Yellow Chicken Breast, Duck Breast, Veal Rump, and Iberian Pork Chops. For those hankering a juicy hamburger, the restaurant serves Le Croquavor, their reinterpretation of the burger.

And then, there are steaks. It's a steakhouse after all, and one must not skip sinking their teeth into the succulence of properly cooked beef. Steaks here are made to shine in their own beefy glory -- the meats take center stage because it is prepared well, without any flavor distractions of being over seasoned nor coming to your table with a slew of sauces. The XL Black Angus Rib Eye pushes on your palate with distinct flavors from Chef Akrame's pepper-infused olive oil, and the rest is just meaty and juicy goodness of steak.

XL Black Angus Rib Eye

If you want extra handsome flavors, though, go bold with their Holstein Beef, bone-in rib eye which is dry-aged for 50 days, lightly crusted in salt and the pepper oil, giving a depth in flavor in every bite that is just begging to be paired with a good glass of wine.

Holstein Beef

Save some space for dessert: there are a couple of sweet endings that you must try. There's a classic Creme Brûlée so silky and sexy, perfect with its mild sweetness and crisp just-burnt sugar crackles. It is heaven in every spoonful, and the contrast in textures so playful on the palate.

Creme Brûlée

There's also an exceptional Custard Pie, which combines warm pie and cool citronella sorbet on a plate. The mild sweetness and push-pull of this dual temperature dessert by Atelier Vivanda stuns with its subtletly in flavor and presentation. The custard is creamy, generous with vanilla bean, and held together by a stunning flaky phyllo crust. While it seems to lack attractive colors and flourishings compared to flouncy cakes and other desserts, allow your mouth be introduced to this delicate dessert that exercises delicious restraint.

Custard Pie

Atelier Vivanda Manila opens to the public beginning Tuesday, February 2, 2016. The restaurant is located at U-A8 Forbes Town Center, Forbes Town Road, BGC, Taguig. Call 02-VIVANDA (848 2632), 0918-VIVANDA (848 2632), visit www.ateliervivanda.com, Like Atelier Vivanda Manila on Facebook ("Atelier Vivanda Manila") and follow on Instagram (@ateliervivandamanila) for more information.

 

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