MESCLUN. I usually encounter the term in recipes for salads, which call for mesclun or assorted salad greens to be drizzled with or tossed in the dressing. So, when publicist friend Nana Nadal recently invited us to M Bistro by Mesclun at Eastwood Mall, Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City, to try the food and meet its chef-owner Katrina Kuhn-Alcantara, I half-expected the menu to be salad-heavy and the food to incorporate a lot of salad greens and vegetables.
But ‘mesclun’ also means ‘mixture,” and it can be a mixture of different things – a mixture of ingredients, a mixture of cuisines, a mixture of different travel and culinary experiences.
M Bistro by Mesclun turned out to be all these. There were four salad selections on the menu, allright, most of which had mesclun greens as a major ingredient, and the menu combined a mixture of cuisines, including Japanese, French, Italian, German and Filipino. This combination of cuisines has been influenced by Chef Katrina’s many travels abroad and the many dish ideas that she has picked up along the way. And rightly so because M Bistro, whose M is short for ‘mesclun,’ is not cuisine-specific. Which means that you cannot define the kind of cuisine that it serves as solely Italian or German or French.
“The menu is predominantly European-influenced, but we have some Filipino and other dishes as well. I like to mix dishes – the Old World classics and the New World refreshing. Mesclun is a chef-centered concept that has been largely influenced by my personal career and artistic evolution,” explains Chef Katrina, whom I have previously met in the Serendra-The Fort store of her other restaurant, Chuck’s Deli, whose hefty gourmet sandwiches I definitely love.
On the menu are Escargots (Php345), which is French-style snails with garlic-parsley butter and baguettine, and Yakuza Chicken (Php295), Japanese style marinated chicken fillets served with katsu sauce, among the interesting mix of appetizers. Chef Katrina also offers different variants of both Flammekueche (Php295 to 345), which are Alsatian flatbread pizzas with homemade crème fraîche and onions, as well as Sourdough Pizzas (Php295 to 345), whose crust has been made using Chef Katrina’s own sourdough starter. There are also a number of pasta dishes and a mix of main dishes, not to mention huge brioche sandwiches and an Angus burger, on the menu.
A closer look at the menu will reveal several very interesting items. I had a good laugh when Chef Katrina started talking about two of her appetizers, Buffalo Balls (Php315), actually chicken meatballs with buffalo sauce and blue cheese sauce, and Andre’s Poke (Php345), which is Hawaiian-style tuna ceviche with soy-sesame dressing, sriracha mayonnaise and crostinis. Buffalo and poke… And then she had Andre’s Poke, which is just like regular ceviche but with sriracha mayo, served. Everyone at the table, including Gold Quetulio of F&B World and Cook Magazine’s Dino Datu and Yu Kyung Kang (a.k.a. Britney), our newfound Korean friend whose bubbly personality is infectious, had fun spreading the poke or tuna ceviche on the crostinis and then biting into them.
Chef Katrina let us all try her French Onion Soup. I don’t like eating onions, especially raw onions and sautéed ones that still have a crunch left, but I like the caramelized onions in French Onion Soup, which simply melt in your mouth and go harmoniously with the melted cheese crust covering the soup. M Bistro’s French Onion Soup is one of the really good ones I’ve tasted.
The menu also carries a number of dishes that clearly show how Filipino ingredients and or dishes can be incorporated into, say, Italian pasta fares and Western mains. Check out Sisig Spaghetti (Php245), which is pork sisig with light cream sauce and chicharon bits sprinkled on top of spaghetti; Guava Pork Adobo (Php345), pork adobo cooked with guava and served with rice pilaf; Sarangani Bay Apahap or Local Seabass (Php595), smoke-infused baked apahap fillets, French beans, light ginger-soy-sesame sauce, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper and cilantro; and Wild Ulang Thermidor (Php795), river prawns prepared, thermidor style, and served with black ink seafood risotto and grana padano slivers.
Got to taste both the Sarangani Bay Apahap and the Wild Ulang Thermidor and loved them both. I liked the combination of the smokiness of the fish, the lightness of the ginger-soy-sesame sauce, and the freshness of the French beans, tomatoes, bell pepper and cilantro, and how these different flavors melded beautifully together in the Sarangani Bay Apahap.
The Wild Ulang Thermidor had just the right sweet-salty flavors and, served in twos per order with perfectly cooked al dente risotto, was an awesome one-dish meal. You can have just that and be totally satisfied.
For our meal-ender, we had M Bistro’s homemade gelato in different flavors.
M Bistro, by the way, was an offshoot of the first Mesclun restaurant, called Mesclun Restaurant + Café, which opened at The Linden Suites in October 2012 and has since served as the main dining outlet of the hotel in Ortigas Center. Mesclun Bistro in Serendra then opened in May 2013, followed by M Bistro by Mesclun in Eastwood in December 2013.
It’s worth checking out.
(M Bistro by Mesclun is located at the Ground Floor of Eastwood Mall, Eastwood City, Libis, Quezon City, with telephone number 900-0503.)