Food Is Making This Classic Quezon City Hotel Relevant Again
The effort to attract passersby with faded tarpaulins offering happy hours and room rate deals ironically help Hotel Rembrandt blend in the background. You could call it a Quezon City institution if only it hasn't become such a blink-and-you'll-miss-it establishment. However, recent developments just might bring this aging hotel back from the woodwork.
"We plan on renovating the rooms slowly," owner Kristine Singson Meehan shares. "The lobby lounge, too, which will be tricky since it's always busy. But, we think it's really time."
Their signature restaurant The Penthouse is one the first of many dank, forgotten rooms inside the hotel to have received that spiffing up. "My dad (Congressman Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur) likes to hold meetings here," admits Meehan whose Artstream Hospitality Management Group, Inc. also owns and operates Le Monet Hotel in Baguio and Vitalis Villas in Santiago Cove, Ilocos Sur, among many others.
The walls with Old World moulding are painted a stark white, providing perfect balance to the royal blue upholstery and carpets. A fresh, clean scent permeates the air—it's a welcome change from the stale cigarette smell of the piano bar of old. Now, The Penthouse is a legitimate restaurant serving Continental-Northwestern cuisine by thirty-something chef Chester Delos Velas.
Chef Chester has made the rounds in Vancouver's most illustrious restaurants- including Yew at The Four Seasons and Japanese stalwarts Minamu and Miku. His resume also boast stints at DB by Daniel Boulud at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands and Allium in Chicago.
He had already previously helped in Artstream's kitchens, but the experienced and well-traveled chef decided to settle in Manila to make a home with his wife whom he met at Le Monet. The Meehans were only too happy to get him back on board to give the Hotel Rembrandt's kitchen a much needed upgrade.
While attracting a younger demographic might mean offering new things, keeping the regulars happy is a greater priority. Chef Chester remedies this disparity by keeping things familiar as he gives the classics a fresh turn. He achieves this balance with starters such as fried potato batons topped with truffle oil and Parmesan, as well as an assortment of sliders. The pork belly version is indulgent and already turning out to be an early favorite. The chef also indulges his more creative side with the tender and inspired pulpo with roasted califlower and aioli.
Linguini with mushroom cream sauce
The chef's experience with Vancouver's premier sustainable seafood ambassador Chef Ned Nell taught him to understand the power of simplicity, allowing good quality seafood to take the spotlight. Salmon—poached quickly and seasoned simply—shines over a creamy binatog. Tuna steaks fried in a light batter is a clever take on a familiar fish, served with mushy peas as they would fish and chips in English pubs.
Angus Rib Eye
Peas also add verdant freshness to an otherwise rich linguini with mushroom cream sauce, topped with a saucer of crispy-fried pancetta. It's perfect as a hearty lunch or a side dish to be shared along with their certified Angus rib eye. Grilled to your preferred doneness and served with fried potato hay and greens, the steak is simply seasoned and tender, allowing the flavors of good quality American beef to come through. At 20-ounces priced just above P2,000, it's an amazing deal that's too good to pass up.
You have two choices to ending your meal. You can have a refreshing mango cheesecake or maybe a few rounds of G&T. The Penthouse is stocked with some small-batch gins along with more popular brands such as Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire. Connoisseurs will be please to know that their growing collection includes German-made Monkey 47, Cruxland, and Four Pillars. "Gin is very popular now," Meehan observes. "And, besides, we like drinking it."
Younger, gastronomically adventurous Quezon City dwellers have often complained that if they want to indulge in fine, western cuisine, they need to trek to the south towards Makati or BGC. However, there are many restaurateurs and hoteliers like Meehan who are attending to these new demands of a market which used to be perfectly happy with their tea houses, kebab joints, and Filipino fare. The resurrected Penthouse of Hotel Rembrandt is a strong sign that elevated palates are developing in the North and young talents such as Delos Velas are staking their claim on the once impenetrable, hyper-conservative area. "Culinary wasteland," these snooty southerners like to say about laid back QC. Well, not anymore.
The Penthouse at Hotel Rembrandt is at Tomas Morato Avenue extension, Quezon City.