Nestled in the suburb of Alabang 21 kilometers south of Metro Manila, Le Petit Cheri is a casual dining restaurant that promises to give diners a place where they can enjoy a bit of fine French cuisine in a friendly and cozy atmosphere.
Hints of many well-loved sights in Paris can be seen throughout the restaurant’s interior. One wall of the restaurant, near the entrance, was filled from top to bottom with colorful paintings, very much like the art galleries you can find throughout France. A delicately designed black iron railing, reminiscent of the elaborate wrought iron balconies decorating the facades of many hotels and restaurants in Paris, surrounds the mezzanine area. There were even miniature replicas of the Eiffel Tower and mugs accentuating one area of the restaurant just like you’d find in souvenir shops. The only difference is that they are not for sale.
The tables and chairs were arranged in one long line that encircles the main dining area downstairs, giving you a complete view of the restaurant wherever you sit. Simple cream colored chairs and tables accentuated by orange-colored place mats can be found at the ground floor dining area while large cushioned chairs in hues of yellow await you at the restaurant's mezzanine area.
I started my dinner here with a Shrimp Bisque soup, which was made out of pureed shrimp, tomatoes, white wine, and brandy, served with cream and garnished with whole shrimp.
There seemed to have been some misunderstanding between the kitchen and the server attending to my parents and me when we dined here. I had to follow up on the order more than once. By the time it arrived, the soup was already lukewarm. There was also hardly any hint of the taste of the shrimp in the soup itself.
Second to arrive was the Salad de la Mer. Thick slabs of seared pepper crusted tuna steaks and plump shrimps sat on top of thick slivers of smoked salmon, garnished with a bed of romaine lettuce drizzled with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Although this is meant to be a single serving, it’s generous enough to be shared by two people.
Whatever disappointment I initially had with the Shrimp Bisque Soup was washed away as I took a bit of the salad. The tuna was perfectly seared. The light taste of the shrimp, smoky flavored of the salmon and the peppery crust of the seared tuna rounded out the entire dish.
Next was the Duck a L’Orange. Being among the most expensive dish in their menu, but as soon as it arrived, it clear to see that it was worth the price.
We were served a huge platter of thick slices of lean duck breast glazed with orange sauce. The serving itself can feed up to three people. The moist and juicy meat was given a slight kick by the sweet and tangy sauce, mellowed down by the bitterness of the salad greens served with it.
The Coq au Vin was rather interesting. This otherwise classic French chicken stew was not served with the usual accompaniment of steamed potatoes. Instead, it was served with a cup of rice flavored with butter and parsley. No doubt, this may cause some French eyebrows to rise. But, it definitely made this dish more appealing and palatable among Filipinos who’d always love a bit of rice to go with their main dish.
A not-so-traditional way of serving Coq au Vin: steamed potatoes were replaced with rice to suit the Filipino taste.
But the piste de resistance is the array of desserts to choose from their counter. It reflects the restaurant’s owner, Edna Cureg, immense passion for pastries and sweets.
We decided to get an assortment of the French macarons and their Chocolate mousse for dessert to pair with their coffee for our dessert.
Pretty colored macarons of different flavors (clockwise from top): pandan, blueberry, strawberry, mocha, and mango
They may be small, but they are bursting with sugary sweetness in each bite, save for their mocha, which I found rather bland compared to the other flavors. Still, each one is a great accompaniment to their bold coffee.
The Chocolate mousse for me was a feast to the eyes and the palate.
Decadent chocolate mousse: a must for chocoholics.
Each spoonful takes you through waves of varying textures, from the crumbly dark chocolate to the light mousse and whipped cream before reaching the thick and rich chocolate ganache.
French restaurants have long intimidated Filipinos with their very formal atmosphere, strict dress codes, hefty price tags, and menu items that are very difficult to pronounce. Le Petit Cheri broke through this stereotypical image by giving diners a place where they can sample some fine French cuisine within a casual setting. The prices of the food here are still slightly on the expensive side, the menu items are still a challenge to pronounce, and there is still room for improvement in terms of their service. But all in all, Le Petit Cheri is indeed one little darling to try should you ever be in the southern part of Metro Manila.
Unit 8 Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines
Sunday-Tuesday, Thursday from 7:00am to 10:00pm
Wednesdays from 7:00pm to 2pm and 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Friday-Saturday from 7:00am to 11:00pm.