Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Through the Seasons: Enduring Classics at Solstice by Ilustrado

For decades, Ilustrado in old Manila has been a culinary benchmark for traditional Filipino-Spanish cuisine, it's a legacy that continues to this day...

...at Solstice by Ilustrado. The elegant dining establishment brings together two distinct culinary brands, One Way Restaurant with its modern continental cuisine and the classic heritage Filipino-Spanish dishes of Ilustrado. Solstice by Ilustrado is an addition to the expanding line of dining concepts managed by Ilustrado, adding even more dining options at Rockwell. It's a testament to the continuing legacy of Ilustrado, with its classic flavors preserved with each passing season, and reinvented with a modern and contemporary spin at Solstice by Ilustrado.

Located at 8 Rockwell, Solstice by Ilustrado exudes a modern yet comforting vibe, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass walls draping the spacious interiors with natural light. With two levels, diners have more seating options ideal for large informal gatherings or more intimate arrangements.

It's the perfect setting for the merger of two iconic and well-loved culinary brands. Ilustrado's President, Bonifacio V. Pimentel (L), welcomed guests for the exclusive sampling of their signature dishes as refreshing beverages, like their signature Apple+Kiwi+Ginger Cooler (P 220), were served (R).

My dining experience at Solstice by Ilustrado began with their signature Chicken Liver Pate (P 250), an elegantly plated starter with chicken liver and pork, herbs and spices, grapes, homemade cranberry jam, and crisp crostini. The blend of  chicken and pork liver combine for rich and rustic flavors, capped by the contrasting tartness and sweetness of the homemade cranberry jam for balanced flavors. Solstice by Ilustrado also offers a wide selection of fine wines to complete your dining experience.

The Spinach and Feta Fundido (P 295), a creamy dip with fresh spinach, melted feta and mozzarella, served with freshly baked pita offers modern global flavors, just one of the many international dishes in Solstice by Ilustrado's wide repertoire of dishes. The creamy spinach and feta dip delivers a creamy richness from the feta cheese followed by the clean notes of the fresh spinach. The soft and chewy pita completes the dish.

The intricate Baked Eggplant in Filo (P 420),  a thin and crisp filo case stuffed with eggplant, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and creamy feta cheese with a side of fresh greens, is another dish reflecting the wide range of culinary styles at Solstice by Ilustrado. The rich and savory notes of the eggplant, olives, and feta cheese come through with a flavorful punch, intensified by the bold flavors of the sun-dried tomatoes. The paper-thin filo is crisp, adding texture with every bite. And that's just for starters...

The refreshing Calamari Salad (P 360), a mesclun of local, organic garden fresh greens with broiled calamari, goat cheese, crisp bacon bits, and herbed croutons, drizzled with a tart pesto citrus dressing, adds fresh and clean flavors to the table. The addition of broiled calamari adds a subtle briny sweetness to the salad, with the creamy goat cheese and bacon bits adding even more layers of fresh flavors.  

Not to be missed at Solstice by Ilustrado is their comforting Pasta Aligue, with soft yet firm noodles draped in indulgent crab fat. Each bite delivers a briny richness perfectly finished by the plump shrimps. Solstice by Ilustrado also has a brick oven for their signature Sourdough Pizza, signature dishes from One Way Restaurant ...

The signature 'Shroom Pizza (P 480) topped with fresh shiitake, king and oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan on a rustic sourdough crust; and the 5-Cheese with Truffle Honey (P 495), with mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, feta, and gorgonzola drizzled with truffle honey, are a winning pair.

At Solstice by Ilustrado, one can find modern dishes inspired by the best of global cuisine, and familiar and comforting favorites. For the mains, dishes that we loved from Ilustrado in old Intramuros were served, including the signature Paella Ilustrado (P 850, good for 2), soft and fluffy rice cooked with Spanish chorizo, prawns, and mussels. A meal in itself, and great for sharing, the Paella Ilustrado brings back fond memories of weekend family gatherings at the iconic institution in the old walled city of Intramuros.

And it's the Callos Madrilena (P 480) that triggers even more memories, the classic stew with tender ox-tripe, Chorizo de Bilbao, and tender bacon slab in a rich and thick paprika broth. Slow-cooked and simmered for hours, the tripe just melts in your mouth releasing its savory notes. The Callos Madrilena has always been a favorite at Ilustrado, and it's great to see an old favorite recreated at Solstice by Ilustrado. 

The Roast Long Island US Duck (P 1,865), tender roasted half duck with ginger lime sauce, honey, and sauteed potato, is one of the new dishes at Solstice by Ilustrado using premium imported ingredients. Delicately roasted, the duck is tender and juicy with a lightly crisp outer layer. Elegantly plated, it's another example of Solstice by Ilustrado's culinary approach to classic cuisine.

The savory richness of the premium duck are complimented by the sweet and tart ginger lime sauce for balanced notes. It's this blend of flavors and delicately balanced contrasting notes that make this dish special.

Then, it's time for dessert...

Cap your feast with their Matcha Cookies and Cream (P 275), a unique blend of matcha, dark chocolate, and walnuts served with a smooth and indulgent panna cotta; and the Mango Jubilee (P 250), with flambeed mango balls, orange liqueur, almonds, and fragrant sampaguita ice cream.

Like fine wine aged over time, the passing of seasons has only made the comforting dishes of Ilustrado so much more special, and with the addition of new and contemporary dishes, Solstice by Ilustrado remains top-of-mind for classic heritage Filipino-Spanish cuisine. The cuisine is modern and progressive, and traditional at the same time, bringing the best of both worlds in one place. With it's name inspired by the shortest and longest day of the year, you can be sure your craving for comforting classics that have endured through countless seasons can be satisfied...at Solstice by Ilustrado. 

Solstice by Ilustrado is located at the Ground Floor, 8 Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell, Makati City or call (02) 802-1891 for inquiries and reservations.

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