THE new name of luxury in the Timog area of Quezon City is Luxent Hotel – and I thought that Makati, Ortigas Center and Alabang had dominion over luxury hotels! I’ve also always simply associated Timog Ave. and the nearby Tomas Morato Ave. as restaurant rows and nothing more. Well, last month (April 2013), I ‘discovered’ Luxent Hotel, a modern, contemporary 16-storey hotel tucked in a corner of Timog Ave. in the South Triangle area of Quezon City, just a stone’s throw away from the Timog Rotonda. It’s like a modern oasis in a concrete jungle lined by restaurants, bars, clubs and night spots.
Opened in July 2012, the hotel houses 117 guest rooms, a small but visually breath-taking infinity pool with a transparent glass wall, a kiddie pool and a fully-equipped fitness center, two café-restaurants on the ground floor, and four function rooms – aptly named Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn – that can individually accommodate 50 guests and collectively seat 300 in a ballroom-style setting.
Parking, too, always presented itself as a problem whenever we had coverage or shoots in the Timog area of Quezon City, but it’s not a problem for Luxent Hotel guests because , apart from its already sizable parking area fronting the beautiful glass-walled hotel, it also has a secured multi-level indoor parking area so guests are assured of their – and their vehicles’ – safety..
Guest rooms at Luxent Hotel come in Superior Rooms (with two Queen-sized beds that can accommodate a maximum of three adults and one kid), Deluxe Rooms (with one King-sized bed), Executive Suite (with one King-sized bed and a bathtub), and a Presidential Suite complete with a master’s bedroom, a living room and a dining area plus a Jacuzzi tub.
All rooms are equipped with LCD flat-screen TVs with cable and DVD player and WiFi Internet connection.
Very particular with the bathrooms of hotels where I stay, I particularly like Luxent Hotel’s Superior Room because it has a spacious enclosed shower room, unlike the bathrooms of a few other hotels which have a shower above its bathtub. I don’t mind not having a bathtub, which is rarely used anyway unless you have all the time in the world to spend dipping in the bathtub, but I’m not so fond of having the shower above the bathtub because you have to hop into the bathtub before you can access the shower, and usually the bathtub cum shower is separated from the rest of the bathroom only by a shower curtain. If the shower curtain is positioned in a slightly wrong way, you end up getting water from the shower dripping all over the bathroom floor, and it can get messy. With an enclosed shower room, the chances of getting the rest of the bathroom messy are significantly lower.
Tomas Morato and Timog avenues are known as restaurant rows, where diners go to satisfy gastronomic cravings, but Luxent Hotel stands up to the challenge when it comes to dining because it boasts of two dining outlets. One is Lush Bar and Restaurant, which serves as the Lobby Lounge whose extensive a la carte menu is a lot more than just cocktail drinks and fingerfoods. The other is Garden Café, also on the ground floor, which serves buffet breakfast and dinner and, this month, will start offering buffet lunch as well.
Menus of both dining outlets have been drawn up by Executive Chef Jonathan ‘Boom’ Jota, whose brings with him long years of experience in the restaurant industry. I met him a few years ago when he was corporate chef of a known group of restaurants which runs a number of concept restaurants, and we were happy to see each other last month in his new corporate home – Luxent Hotel.
For Lush, he has put together a very impressive and extensive menu that covers appetizers, soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches, flatbreads (read: pizzas!), pasta dishes, main courses, all-time Filipino merienda favorites and desserts.
On the day my husband Raff and I had lunch with colleagues from Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin and Business Mirror at Luxent Hotel last month, Chef Boom laid out a feast. He got our appetites going with Nacho Oh My (Php350), a huge platter of yellow and blue corn nachos topped with chili beef, capsicum, Jalapeño, bacon bits, salsa, sour cream and cheese sauce. There were about 10 of us at the table, but we almost couldn’t finish it because it was a huge platter indeed. I liked it a lot, with the crunch of the nachos contrasting – but marrying well – with the tomato salsa, sour cream and cheese sauce.
Also on the table was SAM (Php395), a spinach, artichoke and mushroom dip served with Tuscan bread and potato chips. The Tuscan bread slices went very fast so I had my spinach dip (which is more like a spread) with potato chips. Also whetting our appetites was Wrap Me (Php395), crispy lettuce, minced chicken, turnips, desiccated coconut, roasted nuts, water chestnuts, Hoisin sauce, Ranch garlic and chili garlic sauce. Its name fits it to a T, since diners get to make their own soft tortilla wraps with putting together what they like from the deconstructed ingredients.
Soup came in the form of Pier 21 (Php250), a generous serving of creamy clam chowder in a huge bread bowl. It’s definitely “to share.”
We also tried Oriental Mango Chicken Salad (Php395), mixed lettuce and red cabbage with capsicum, cucumber, marinated grilled chicken, salad beansprouts, cilantro, mango, Mandarin orange and caramelized walnuts served with citrus lime and peanut dressing, topped with crispy wanton strips. It had a lot going in there when it comes to texture, flavors, aroma and mouthfeel. It came, not quite surprisingly, together harmoniously.
Then it was time for the main course, which consisted of Sinfully (Php540), seared salmon topped with garlic Parmesan dressing, steamed asparagus and battered potato; and D Butcher (Php475), Kurobuta Pork Belly braised in 12 spices and served with Oriental salad and garlic mashed potato.
Also on the table for tasting and sharing were Carbonara (Php375) and Seafood Cioppino (Php425), both House Specials among the pasta selections on the Lush menu, plus Lumpiang Ubod (Php195), heart of palm, cilantro, carrots, roasted garlic nuts, served with peanut caramel sauce; and Pancit Puti (Php195), bihon noodles stir-fried with wood ear mushrooms, egg, roasted garlic, chicken strips and chives.
But the crowning glory, the shock factor, to our feast of a lunch was dessert: Mega Halo-Halo (Php275). It was HUGE! The giant cocktail glass was filled with 18 mixes of tropical fruits, carabao’s milk, dulce de leche, with mantecado, ube and mais ice cream scoops and toasted corn flakes. You definitely have to share this one!
With such a full lunch, it was beyond me how we got to have dinner later that day – so we delayed having dinner by first walking around and shooting the buffet setup, the dining area, and had some of the buffet items plated for shoot.
Buffet dinner at Garden Café is very reasonable at Php899 on weekdays and Php999 on weekends. For this summer, Luxent Hotel’s Food & Beverage manager Maria Paz Melendrez has slashed it even further by offering buffet dinner at Garden Café at Php599 net, Mondays to Thursdays, and Php699 net, Fridays to Sundays, while kids aged 6 to 12 pay only half the price.
For its price, the buffet dinner lays out a very impressive spread. The appetizer area offers a whole range of sushis, sashimis, makis and temakis presented on sushi boats, plus platters of Edamame (soy beans), Spicy Tuna Sashimi (tuna sashimi mix topped with crunchy tempura batter bits), Kani Salad (crabstick, mango and lettuce salad topped with tobiko or fish roe), Cha Soba and Assorted Tempura.
Hot dishes in the chafing dishes include Baked Macaroni, Seafood Gambas, Fish fingers with Honey Mustard Sauce, Pork Hawaiian, Beef Tenderloin with Asparagus, and Seafood Szechuan, plus Roast Chicken on the carvery and an interactive grill for meats and seafood. Cakes, pastries, a halo-halo bar and fresh fruits form part of the dessert spread.
Garden Café also serves buffet breakfast for in-house guests and walk-in diners, and the buffet breakfast, priced at Php399 (Mondays to Thursdays) and Php499 (Fridays to Sundays) also offers quite an extensive spread – a salad bar, appetizers, hot dishes on chafing dishes with rice, a full selection of breads, an egg station, cakes, cupcakes and fresh fruits.
THE NAME OF LUXURY
With the summer vacation almost over and the new schoolyear almost here, it should be nice to take advantage of what’s remaining of the summer season by going on a luxurious staycation right in the heart of Quezon City’s bustling Timog area. Beat the heat and bask in the air-conditioned luxury of Luxent Hotel, enjoy its facilities like a good workout in the gym and a good swim in the pool, which takes on a different character during the evening – with a transparent glass wall and lighting that gives a cool underwater view, and dine leisurely on delicious but affordable gourmet food. Indulge. If you’ve been working hard, you ought to give yourself a much-deserved break.
(Luxent Hotel is located at 51 Timog Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City, with contact number 922-8888.)