Fascinating ideas at the ‘White House’

January 26, 2013 § Leave a comment


STILL waters do run deep. At The White House, creative eddies are at work to bring bashful chefs’ ideas to culinary life.

There are some restaurants that are big in concepts but appalling in taste, almost as if they are too lofty in their culinary ideas to care for satisfying the palate and the appetite. And then there are those big in taste but offer nothing memorable. Thankfully the quiet top of a hill inside a newly-developed posh village in Bajada that is the reticent White House is neither of the above. Long after the meal, we would still be able to vividly recall its remarkable concepts, fascinating ideas and above all — we foodies have appetites to fill after all — the lip smacking taste.

The new menu is a marked departure for the young chefs (Cathy BInag, Nino Laus, Justin Sison and July Taguran) who began their career emulating the high-horse ideals of fine dining restaurants. Dare we say this — their latest offerings signify a coming of age for the island’s culinary talents. And Davao City is ready for a fine dining restaurant that serves a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine, says Chef Cathy Binag, the White House manager.

A great meal fascinates at the first instant and in White House’ case there were plenty of such instances. Shall we begin with the starters/aperitif. The first is smoked Toro tempura Roll with braised gobo and corrots served with Ponzu Sauce.

The other is the Trio of Oysters with a sampler of balsamic mayonnaise. The Trilogy of Foie Gras is a pan seared Foie Gras set on a nasu miso; Poached Foie Gras set on onion steak in teriyaki balsamic sauce; and Torchon of Foie Gras with sake-poached fruits.

For soup, we were served French Onion Akadashi Miso Soup, while Duck Breast Pastrami Salad Roll laced with mixed greens, grille watermelon, orange caviar, fried vermicelli in orange amazu dressing wrapped Vietnamese rice paper came for the salad part. These set mood for the main course.

The Oven Poached Halibut in Umami Broth, had assorted mushrooms, mixed vegetables, Chinese chorizo, Manila clams and a hint of matsutake and truffle oil. There is a measured salinity that somehow makes you want to eat every spoonful very slowly in order to catch every nuance.

The second is Mequite Grilled Wagyu Rib Eye — a Mesquite grilled prime rib gratinated with raclette cheese served with haricot vert, roasted garlic bulb and wasabi tempura onion rings seasoned with pink Himalayan salt and garnished with dehydrated potato sheet. The beef was slow cooked so that it retains its juices to deliver a very succulent bite.

The Wagyu Top Blade, thinly sliced which we were made to cook in Ishiyaki Stone right on our table, was an interactive experience. The stone looks like a mini chocolate cake that measure three inches in diameter. We didn’t care to confront the dilemma for we are already into anticipating the next dish.

The Ebi Tempura Saba was infused in truffle topped with grated Foie ras and served with quail egg.

The dessert were Vanilla Cheesecake with Yamamomo and Mixed Berries, Compote and Mango caviar set on Green Tea Dacquoise.

Just when you think the meal is over, the waiter comes over with a plate laced with nana Bread served with Homemade Chocnut Ice Cream, Salted Dulce de Leche and Rhum Raisins Coulis.

The waiter appears every now and then with a pitcher of water infused with lemon and other greens, and refills our glasses.

This is a restaurant that you don’t just come and eat and luxuriate in its surroundings. More than that, The White House, which opened in August this year, is a place to be bewildered by a lot (plethora) of ideas. From the looks of it, there will be many more to come.

The White House is located inside the Camella Northpoint. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dinner.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 16, 2012.

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