Food

The Best French Restaurants in Manila

C'est délicieux!
IMAGE KAI HUANG
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French food, though not as mainstream to Filipinos as ItalianSpanish, or Japanese, is slowly gaining traction. This year’s Gout de France, an annual worldwide event celebrating French food saw 26 chefs participating in the Philippines, a notable increase from the six participants who joined in 2015. For a country that’s continuously bombarded with new food concepts left and right, it’s about time we turn our attention to the so-called “Mother of all Cuisines,” a heritage so important that UNESCO placed it on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010. 

Though probably not as life-changing as a UNESCO announcement, here’s our listwith entries ranging from casual to fine dining, classic to modern, they’re authentically French. Here, in no particular order, are our favorite French restaurants in Manila. 

1| Sagana Epicerie and Bistro

Upon entering the warm, wooden interiors of Sagana, the guest is greeted by organic produce from all over the country such as strawberries and zucchini from the Cordilleras, garlic from Batanes, and cherry tomatoes from Baguio. Working with the concept of terroir or “from the soil,” Sagana highlights the abundance of Filipino farms, while also showcasing Chef Marc Aubry’s expertise in French fare. This is Aubry’s third French concept, after the now defunct Je Suis Gourmand and Champetre.  

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Photo by Kai Huang.

Esquire Recommends:

  • Beef onglet
  • Algerian couscous 

Net One Center, 3rd Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City

2| Mireio 

Named after an 1859 poem by Nobel-Prize winning Frederic Mistral, Mireio is inspired by Mistral’s ode to his beloved Provence, showcasing the best soul-food hailing from the region. Chef de cuisine Herve Clair is a Provencal native, and he takes pride in creating dishes inspired by the home-cooked meals his grandmother made. He describes the restaurant's food as simple, serving to highlight the best flavors and fresh produce found in the south of France.

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Photo by Kai Huang.

Esquire Recommends:

  • Duo de saumon frais et fumé  (fresh and smoked salmon tartare)
  • Filet de bœuf nourri à l’herbe, gratin de pomme de terre truffé, sauce vin rouge (Pan-seared beef tenderloin with a side of black truffle potato gratin and red wine sauce)

 9/F Raffles Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati 

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3| Bistro Manuel 

Culinary power couple Ariel Manuel and Mia Ayuyao-Manuel give Bistro Manuel the same energy, passion, and care they once gave the greatly missed Lolo Dad’s. The fuss-free, classic dishes we have come to love are hereno experiments, just well-crafted French food that won't disappoint. Its interiors are just as straightforward as its dishes, a simple, mostly white space adorned with dark, elegant fixtures; always a classic. But let’s make it clear, Bistro Manuel is not Lolo Dad’s. “It is irreplaceable,” Mia once said in a 2016 Esquire feature. While the predecessor can never be replicated, it’s good to know the quality remains the same. At the end of the day, it boils down to great foodwhat more can you ask for?

Photo by Kai Huang.
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Esquire Recommends:

Lamb and Lamb with Lamb

Roasted Duck Breast

Bistro Manuel, alongside the Ayuyao-Manuel’s other concepts, Sippery and Taperia Poblacion, are all located on the second floor of Six Axis Center, 4347 B. Valdez Street, Poblacion, Makati.

4| L'Entrecote Bistro and Upper Room

“Entrecote” is a term for a beef steak cut from between the ribs, or a thin, boneless rib-eye. The L’entrecote concept refers to restaurants popular for having only one thing on its menusteak and fries. However, BGC’s L’entrecote adjusted the concept a bit to accommodate the Filipino taste. In 2013, it added other French staples like the creamy Pan Fried Foie Gras, and literally doubled down on its main event with the L’entrecote Double, a certified Angus sirloin steak weighing nearly double the original size at 12 ounces. With dishes made from recipes that have been painstakingly improved upon for years, it’s no surprise that L’entrecote is one of the few Burgos Circle establishments that are still standing today

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Esquire Recommends:

  • L’entrecote steak
  • Crisp French duck leg confit

Bellagio 2, Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

 

5| L'Epicerie Gourmande

L’Epicerie Gourmande is unique to our best French restaurants list for being the only one that is both a restaurant and a grocery (“epicerie”) at the same time. It traces its roots to the south of France, where the original L’Epicerie Gourmande des Vignes opened in Antibes in 1951. Somehow, this grocery/bar/restaurant made its way to Philippine shores through owners Christian and Valerie Nervegno, Christian being the grandson of one of the original founders. With authentic French food items, wines, and dishes, L’Epicerie is often visited by many a French expat who misses the taste of home. Now with two branches in Manila, L’Epicerie’s casual atmosphere offers a warm welcome to French nationals, Francophiles, and foodies alike.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Le Plateau du Traiteur
  • Truffade pasta

Molito Lifestyle Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa; Serendra Drop-off, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

 

6| La Mere Poulard 

La Mere Poulard in BGC is only the fourth branch of this 130-year-old institution outside of France, and we to consider ourselves very lucky to have it nearby. Famous for its puff omelettes, La Mere Poulard is named after Annette Poulard, who was given the honorary title Mere upon reaching fame for her success in the kitchen. Annette would cook eggs over an open wood fire, creating a massive, frothy omelette, one that is as delicious as it is light. The rest of the menu follows a similar, homey theme, boasting the best of French comfort food. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Puff Omelette
  • Pork Filet Mignon in soy and honey sauce with sauteed potatoes

U/GF SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

7| L'eau Vive

L’eau Vive is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in local French cuisine. Though not as mainstream as the other French restaurants in this list, this Paco, Manila establishment has been entertaining loyal customers for almost 40 years. Run by the missionary workers of the Immaculate of the Donum Dei Missionary Family, L’eau Vive operates as a restaurant for a causeprofits go to its mission to help the less fortunate. The missionaries also operate a carinderia right beside the restaurant where food is subsidized for those who can’t afford fine dining. The menu, written in French with English translations, is quite authenticthe nuns train in France and do rotations in French kitchens to hone their skills.  

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Côtelettes d’agneu au beurre à l’ail (lamb chops with garlic butter and boiled potatoes)
  • Mousse de Foie de Volaille (chicken liver pate and butter)

1499 Paz Mendoza Guazon Ave. Robinson Otis Paco, Manila


8| Dr. Wine Manila 

Though obviously more known for its drinks selection, Dr. Wine Manila also serves delicious French fare courtesy of Chef Julien Lecomte. Guests who come for wine are pleasantly surprised to find a well-stocked menu of fine dining offerings to pair with their bottle, from the well-curated cheese and cold cut platters to the tender, expertly cooked meats in the mains. One of the swankier options among the diverse set of establishments in Poblacion, Dr. Wine is also home to the Kartel rooftop bar, where guests can drink their wines while drinking in the view of the Makati skyline.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • George Blanc’s Mother secret chicken recipe
  • Traditional Strasbourg Choucroute

5921 Algier Street, Poblacion, Makati

9 and 10| Duck and Buvette and Apero

Duck and Buvette and Apero share the same owners in Chef Jacq Tan and Bryan Chua, as well as the same goal of making French food appealing to Filipinos. Both have a casual ambiance, inviting guests with homey warmth and leaving out the intimidating air often related to French dining. Homemade is its trademark, as everythingfrom cultivating yeast, to churning the butter, down to curing the meatsis done in-house to ensure that everything is perfect. It sounds tedious, but to them this is important. When Esquire asked them about the dedication to making things from scratch in 2016, they simply said: “It’s better, you can taste it.” 

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Photo by Sasha Lim Uy.

Esquire Recommends:

  • Duck Confit (Duck and Buvette)
  • Spinach Cavatelli (Apero) 

2/F Main Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas, Mandaluyong (Duck and Buvette); Corinthian Hills, Temple Drive, White Plains, Quezon City (Apero)

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About The Author
Monique Therese Avila
Monique Therese Avila is a self-proclaimed woman-child with a lifelong obsession with chocolate. Her attempts at staying fit are hampered by her part-time gig as a professional food taster.
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