“Uno de los mejores secretos guardados en Palermo.”
If you travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, you must must eat at a Parrilla (steakhouses). And if you Google Parrilla, Chef de Cuisine Gaston Riveira’s Parrilla La Cabrera should show up in your search results. As they say, Parrilla La Cabrera is “Uno de los mejores secretos guardados en Palermo”, or “One of the best kept secrets in Palermo”.
Why do you ask? Parrilla La Cabrera simply ranks as Number 17 of the Top 50 Latin American Restaurants in the World by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. And for such restaurant to come here to Manila is a great prestige and honor, as it is the only branch here in Asia, skipping the big gastronomic cities Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Yes, it’s more fun in the Philippines.
Ironically, La Cabrera opened on the same day Argentina lost to Germany, last July 15. But obviously, Argentina was a winner in the hearts of foodies here in the metro. La Cabrera is no holds barred, an exceptional steak place that meat and steak lovers must not miss. You’ll find that you’ll get more than what you paid for with their highly considerate customer experience.
Reservations at La Cabrera are a must as they are still on dry run. No walk-ins in the meantime and I highly recommend you to reserve a week earlier if you’re coming in large groups. Then again, La Cabrera is best enjoyed for large groups of people.
As you stepped inside, you will be momentarily swept away with their eccentric chandelier, and old, antique embellishments that make you feel like you’re in Palermo.
We originally ordered for Ojo de Bife, Rigatoni Pasta, Provoleta and Ensalada de Caesar. But our server pursed his lips and told us that this was way too much food for 3 people. I was very surprised at his recommendations. Very few restaurants would interfere with whatever the customer is ordering, but I am thankful for his polite, and assertive communication. I agreed to remove the Ensalada de Caesar from our order, though he originally recommended removing the Rigatoni. I regretted afterwards not listening to him. Well done, a staff that had extremely good knowledge of what his customer truly needs.
PROVOLETA – P890.00
Created by Natalio Alba in 1940, PROVOLETA is a trademarked, Argentine variant of Argentine pulled-curd Provolone cheese that is a usual delicacy in Argentina and Uruguay. Cheese is produced using “pasta filata” technique and served in a hot skillet, topped with chimichurri, which is a mixture of herbs, spices and oils.
Provoleta is best eaten with La Cabrera’s complimentary bread. Eat it quick! Or else the cheese will stick on the skillet. But I have to tell you, it was heavenly, rich and very intense in flavor, and one of the best appetizers there is. Provoleta de Queso de Cabra is also available, with goat cheese instead. (P990). A serving is good for 4 people.
At La Cabrera, you have the choice to eat your own Platos Principales, or main entrees, which can be pasta, grilled chicken and Chorizo Criollo.
RIGATONI – P480
While La Cabrera is not primarily a pasta place, Rigatoni (which is available in Linguine also) is a breather for those who don’t like steak. At a price of P480, La Cabrera’s Rigatoni is a knock-off, and the serving size is way too large for 3 people. I wish I listened to the staff!
On one note, I think that the Rigatoni was undercooked because it was less than al dente and “was just about to be cooked”.
OJO DE BIFE (Rib-eye) – 500g – P2,500
Since La Cabrera cannot have flown in meat from Argentina as that is too far, they settled for USDA-certified Angus Beef instead. La Cabrera’ Ojo de Bife is certainly mouthwatering and sinfully delicious, with a great balance of meat and fat in between.
La Cabrera’s hot and cold unlimited sides should keep you preoccupied from hot cheese dip, caramelized onions, to spicy pumpkin puree and mashed peas. I liked the roasted tomato and pumpkin puree best.
I found myself dipping the steak in hot cheese dip that was very very flavorful and unforgettable. *thumbs up* You’ll find the meat being tender, despite the simplest salt and pepper seasoning on the steak, and you’ll be left speechless.
You can also get the Asado del Centro (500g, P1,580) and Bife de Chorizo (500g, P1880), which are both good for 2-3 people.
Lagarde Malbec and LaMill Coffee French Press
Although the steak is best paired with Lagarde Malbec wines (as the owner is the distributor of Lagarde wines here in the Philippines), you’ll know I’m not much of wine drinker.
La Cabrera also serves LaMill Coffee, and you guessed it right. The people behind Wildflour and Refinery are also part-owners of La Cabrera Manila. I shant tell you what other establishments they own as let’s keep it to a minimum and pure for La Cabrera to shine. You can personally send me an email or drop a comment if you’d like to know.
I enjoyed my french press LaMill coffee as usual, just like I did at Refinery.
If we didn’t get the Rigatoni, I would certainly have room for more dessert, such as Argentina’s famous Rogel de Dulce de Leche or the Panqueque topped with Vanilla ice cream which is a treat for the sweet tooth and crepe lovers.
Complimentary lollipops! *sigh* Who knew that lollipops can be such a simple, delectable dessert? The place is very kid friendly.
The Verdict: Truly Mejores Guardados Secretos
While the service is still amiss, I appreciate the politeness and knowledge body they exude that certainly holds some promise. More often than not, we find restaurants keen on having customers order as many as they want for the purpose of sales. At La Cabrera Manila, I found myself paying on what truly is a good dining experience at a restaurant that puts its customer experience on top of their list, and sales secondary. La Cabrera Manila cuts across romantic dinners, birthday celebrations for your grannies, or simple family reunions with rowdy children, and is not to be missed.
UPDATE: My Second Visit at La Cabrera Manila
We celebrated my sister’s birthday at La Cabrera Manila and I was happy with my decision to celebrate here. This time, we ordered both the Linguini and Rigatoni. For me, the Rigatoni was still tough to chew, so I had it sent back to the kitchen to be reheated. The Linguini, which was also tomato-based, was very al dente and perfect for our tastes.
I was about to order the Bife de Chorizo or Asado del Centro for a change, but rib-eye is my ultimate favorite cut, hence the Ojo de Bife. The Ojo de Bife was still superb and juicy.
POLLITO GRILLADO – P490
On the other hand, we took the liberty of ordering Pollito Grillado and it’s barbeque version, which both were undeniably crisp in the skin and very tender in meat.
POLLITO BBQ – P490
Both of which had sides, and also this time, La Cabrera Manila had the Shitake Chimichurri that was to die for. The Zucchini Hot sides were perfect in my Ojo de Bife and Pollito Grillado combination. I’d recommend any chicken-meat lover to order the Pollito Grillado over the Barbecued version.
ROGEL DE DULCE DE LECHE
Chef Juan Barcos came out of the kitchen to personally serve us complimentary ROGEL for my sister’s birthday. It was extremely sweet, made of homemade dulce de leche and stuffed in layers and layers of paper thin pastry. On top is torched icing that blended well with the paper thin pastry. The Rogel is a traditional Argentinian dessert that is usually served in Argentina weddings, hence the reason for its sweetness that symbolizes the union. Add to that the fact its catered for the truly sweet tooth person, and you’ve got yourself a decadent, symbolistic cake only served at La Cabrera.
LA CABRERA Manila by Chef Gastón Riveira Rating
|Taste and Originality:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Average:||(3.5 / 5)|