‘Twas our second night in Cebu. My friends and I were still under the charms of Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. Outside it was a bit chilly and starry. All thoughts of the chill in the air melted at the sight of the sizzling Brazilian show.
As we had gotten ourselves familiar with the 11.5-hectare resort, every stop transported us to some interesting place. Prior to going Spanish and Italian, we went Brazilian! Plantation Bay showcases six themed buffet dinners daily except Sundays – Viva Espana, Sahara Nights, Hawaiian Luau, Rockin’ USA, Filipino Fiesta and Brazilian Fever. The Palermo Restaurant was just a stone’s throw away from the resort’s open stage.
At exactly 6:30 PM, we found ourselves blending in with the “feverish” crowd. Everyone was fascinated by the show. I was later informed that most of the performers were the resort’s staff!
Plantation Bay’s founder, Manny Gonzalez, wanted the staff to discover themselves and earn extra from performing. Work-life balance? More like work-life integration! Now who wouldn’t want to “work” in this first-class service-oriented, people-oriented resort?
As mere spectators of this sizzling hot show, we tried hard to resist the smell of barbecue, Brazilian empanadas, desserts and black lechon (teaser!). In a few minutes, we would be dining at Palermo.
Hannah, the PR Officer had earlier hinted about how good the resort’s home made ice cream was. The sight of the Dulce de Leite parfait on the Brazilian buffet table made me oblivious for a moment. Luckily, I broke away from its lure just in time!
As the show ended, our foursome walked towards Palermo. As we stepped in, that time capsule effect came into play. From the loud Brazilian vibe, we entered into a room of subtle romance. The sound of the piano, the subdued lighting. Candles and flowers accompanied the table setup.
With recommendation from the waitstaff, we finalised our orders without delay. And the romantic mood carried on…
We were offered complimentary house bread with olives. Most of the resort’s breads are baked in-house. Mmmm…these breads were soft, flavoured by complementing herbs and spices. A perfect way to start the meal!
For tapas we had selected Jamon Serrano, Gambas and Fabada.
The ham was mild but flavourful. Tasty but not too salty. Did I like it? Yes, especially with olives.
Before the Fabada was served, the waitstaff approached to ask if I wanted a glass of wine. As I flicked through the wine list, he happily suggested Protos Tempranillo that will go very well with the Fabada. It’s always nice to have an experienced waiter suggest an appropriate wine so I took his advice.
“Ma’am, here is the Fabada!”, the waitstaff announced. I was enjoying the fine texture of the bean and meat combination and the subtle flavour of the stew. My friends took the whole plate of Fabada out of sight.
“It’s all mine!” he announced,
It had been love at fist bite and he didn’t want to share!
I laughed, I was happy he enjoyed the dish, but I would be making sure he shared!
That said, I was not giving away mi vino. There would be no sharing this time. As I swirled and smelled the wine, I breathed the aroma. The Tempranillo was an intoxicating sweet, fruity, floral infusion. The taste was exactly as the aroma. A delicious light red and a fine choice of wine!
Another star fell from the heavenly kitchen to our table. The famed Gambas! Everyone dug their forks in and voila! The shrimp along with the chillies vanished. No trace but just a clean plate! We all concurred – this was the tastiest Gambas we’ve ever had.
Now, the Italian pastas…
The resort advocates home made food, whenever possible. It is apparent in their pastas – both pappardelle and ravioli were made by the chefs. The pappardelle with chicken breast was good but the excellence award goes to the crab ravioli!
The crab meat stuffing tasted so fresh. It retained the sweetness of the crab meat. Lightly salted and spiced. The fusion of the cream sauce and caviar took care of the balancing. I loved this dish!
On the Palermo menu, there is an array of cocktails, such as Plantation Bay Colada and Margarita. My friends ordered some but I was busy savouring my lovely wine.
We all wanted to retire early that night so we could witness the glorious sunrise the next day. Time for some home made ice cream. Along with Strawberry we also sampled another dessert – Banana Toffee Tart.
We enjoyed the Banana Toffee Tart but the homemade ice-cream was the dessert show stopper! Creamy and smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. It was made using fresh strawberries. No hint of artificial flavouring it was icy, dessert perfection!
It was such a fully satisfying evening. A huge variety of hot and cold, sweet and savoury. A bit of Brazil. A sampler of Spain. An inkling of Italy.
In just a brief stroll we were back in our large well-appointed room at the Nile Hall with a stunning view of the lagoon.
With that, I leave you with an old hotel jest:
“And will there be anything else, sir?” the bellboy asked after setting out an elaborate dinner for two.
“No thank you,” the gentleman replied. “That will be all.”
As the young man turned to leave, he noticed a beautiful satin negligee on the bed. “Anything for your wife ?” he asked.
“Yeah! That’s a good idea,” the fellow said. “Please bring up a postcard.”
Gourmet Getaways dined as guests of Palermo Restaurant. The opinions contained in this review are written without bias and in accordance with Gourmet Getaways’ disclosure policy.
Palermo Restaurant @ Plantation Bay Resort and SpaMarigondon, Mactan Island Cebu, Philippines 6015 T: +6332 505-9800 F: +6332 236-4821 Café Bar: Open 6AM – 11PM Tapas and Pastas: Open 5PM – 11PM
Air conditioned. Closed on Wednesdays.