Raffles' newly opened Mireio rounds up a year of great food
It's easy to get distracted by the beautiful dining room. The starkness of the white walls, starched linens, and stone counters are softened by the modern art displayed on them. Splashes of colors imply the Mediterranean—its sunsets and its waters—and you can't help but fantasize about a more idyllic setting in the south of France. Or, perhaps you might dilly dally at the terrace, where you can indulge in that delightful tradition of apero, sipping a fruit forward, aromatic concoction as you get lost in your thoughts or that sprawling view of the city. If you're well-versed in poetry, you might even find yourself overthinking the significance of Mistral's Mireio, the namesake of Raffles Hotel's new brasserie.
This counter will be used to feature their breakfast offerings.
A 10-seater private room
Mireio can seat 77 people, and the al fresco balcony can seat around 70.
So many pretty distractions indeed, and if you allow it, you will surely be swept away in a romantic flurry. However, at the very heart of this beautiful and sprawling space at the prestigious Makati address is Chef Nicholas Cegretin's kitchen where he prepares dishes from home and his childhood. A native of Provence, France, the gawky, pouty 30-year-old does have world-class experience to back him up—working in Paris restaurants (namely Apicius and Laserre, both holders of two Michelin stars) and a handful of their five-star hotels, before moving to Marrakech to work his magic at the iconic Hotel La Mamounia.
But, what makes him the perfect fit for Mireio is his pedigree, and he brings with him refined French cooking techniques paired with recipes he grew up eating. He gives us a taste of his tartare—a dish of raw, chopped protein (salmon, this time) seasoned with spices and aromatics which, according to restaurant manager—another Provençal native—Nicolas Bracq, is eventually what they want the restaurant to be known for. He excitedly mentions the steak tartare, hand-chopped tenderloin speckled with goat cheese, among the usual accoutrements. It's something he believes Manila diners would appreciate.
Amuse Bouche with Salmon and Beef Tartare
Foie Gras with Apple Ginger Chutney
Chilled Basil and Zucchini Soup
Chef Nicolas' youth allows him to dare to play around with traditional luxuries, such as pairing an apple ginger chutney with a generous slab of foie gras, then blessing it with a slight drizzle of six different vinegars reduced to a syrupy consistency. We call him out on his heavy hand with the ginger, and the humble chef simply nods and promises to pull back on the Asian root.
The fish and meat courses illustrate the dual character of Mireio: how it promises to be both refined and modern while staying true to its homey Provençal theme. The grilled skipjack tuna—medium-rare and mildly seasoned—is accompanied simply, albeit quite imaginatively, by carrots in three incarnations: puree, foam, and caramel. When asked why he chose the simple crop, the chef's straightforward answer is: "I had to make do with what I have. The dish needs to be good, but I have a budget." This down-to-earth cooking philosophy is evident in other dishes on the menu, too, like the shepherd's pie-like oxtail parmentier (a baked dish of slow-cooked oxtail shredded and topped with a lush, black truffle jus-laced potato puree). It's available family-style, which will surely appeal to meat-and-potato lovers of all ages.
Skipjack Tuna and Carrots, Three Ways
Wines are poured throughout the meal, and there are many bottles to choose from in Mireio's cellar. However, something distinctly Provençal is the heady anise-flavored spirit absinthe, a drink with quite a storied past. Mireio chooses to demystify it, reintroducing it to its diners as a digestive served at the end of a meal. For those who decide to partake, a contraption is placed on a table that releases drops of water over a sugar cube and trickles into a glass of the potent spirit. This makes it more enjoyable to sip on rather then having you end up in a gutter, wasted. If you opt for more traditional endings to your meal, the baba au rhum—a moist yeast cake topped with a house-made mango sorbet—is a more than adequate choice.
Baba Au Rhum
Bracq shares that the brasserie will be serving a continental spread for breakfast, an abundant selection of breads, cold cuts, cheese, and fruits. Guests could also choose a hot meal with it, either an egg dish, pancakes, or Asian options. Lunch and dinner, of course, will feature those Provençal and Mediterranean favorites. He adds: "Our guests have always enjoyed (Fairmont's) Spectrum which has more of a buffet setup. But, I think it's nice that the Raffles finally has its own restaurant to cater to its guests."
Mireio, with its nonchalant elegance, romantic charm, and approachable French cuisine—it's a perfect fit. At a time when eateries are starting to look like warehouses and showrooms, Raffles' Mireio is refreshing in that it looks like an actual restaurant—somewhere nice to wine and dine by your lonesome or with a friend.
Mireio is at Raffles Hotel, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati City.