Readers may recall that our on previous visit to Linaw we wondered if this would be our first ever 4.5 star review. Unfortunately on that visit it wasn’t to be as an aspect of the food let the overall rating down. Since that review we have visited Linaw several times sampling many of the other dishes on offer. Each time we visited the proprietors and staff exhibited the same high level of service and continued to impress us with the quality of food and attention to detail.
It’s encouraging to see a restaurant not only keeping up high standards but also improving. This is quite a feat when you consider Bohol’s ‘off the beaten track’ reputation and it’s geographic isolation from a consistent supply of produce and trained staff.
Our most recent visit was prompted by earlier excursions and many referrals from other patrons exposing the virtues of Linaw’s ‘order in advance’ platters. We are not usually the type of people that pre plan our evenings as our food predilections are usually spontaneous so its quite a stretch for us to have to book something in advance.
On the night in question we had another couple join us so we made sure we pre booked a day in advance. The resort only requires 4 hours warning but we would suggest unless you are staying at the resort that you give the chef adequate time to prepare.
Arriving at the restaurant we headed down to the beach but the lightening flashing on the horizon gave us fair warning that our anticipated beach side dining may be curtailed. As if on cue the tropical rain stared falling and we were gracefully escorted into the main dining room and our quickly prepared alternate dining positions. The restaurant itself is beautifully laid out and has wonderful acoustics so there is no need to strain to hear the other guests at your table during the dinner party conversation. So not being on the beach was not a penalty. By the way, some restaurants’ acoustics are so abysmal we have been known to walk out early just to get relief from the sub audible white noise.
Anyway…..Back to the meal. Unperturbed by the chaos presented by the rain, the staff didn’t miss a beat and our platter was quickly delivered to our table. What we were presented with was a seafood platter of HUGE proportions. A mass of succulent seafood including oysters, scallops, prawns (actually 2 types), butterfly fan lobsters (also known as Balmain Bugs in Australia), mud crabs (Alimango) and squid. An incredible delectable array of seafood. (Don’t tell your cardiologist about this place).
The seafood was accompanied by an array of sauces and salads and pre ordered side dishes. The pre ordered side dishes were somewhat strange with a confirmation call from the restaurant asking us what we preferred, bread, potatoes or rice prior to our arrival. I would have thought these were all staples at a restaurant of this level. Anyway a small criticism when you consider the excellent evening we had. All the seafood was well prepared yet the mud crabs were marginally overcooked. Mud crab being overcooked is not uncommon in restaurants as it is very difficult to judge the cooking time as the crab continues to cook in its shell on its way to being served. A great tip to minimise this risk is to plunge the crabs into ice just after cooking.
Overall the meal was wonderful and certainly overcomes our slight reservations from our first review. And YES we now have our first 4.5 star restaurant review! Congratulations Linaw Beach Resort! Keep up the good work (but don’t tell my cardiologist)
After a leisurely cocktail at the pool side bar and our entree seated on a beautiful beach under the shimmering moon and stars we were pleasantly wondering “could this be our first review on this site that tops four stars?”
Before we reveal that, let’s just go back a bit. Over the last few months a number of our friends had mentioned the wondrous gastronomic delights that were emanating from the kitchens of the Linaw Beach Resort at Alona. These reviews were reinforced by a number of tourists we had casually met who also mentioned the Pearl Restaurant.
As our readers are aware we don’t usually concentrate on restaurants that are based in resorts but the clamour behind this restaurant was too much to ignore so we decided to venture forth and see what all the fuss was about.
The Linaw Beach Resort would best be described as a boutique resort.
Located not far from the hustle and bustle of Alona Beach on Panglao, the resort is much more than just a boutique resort, it is lesson in how a professional operation is set up and run. Everything about the restaurant, resort and staff screams professional. The eye for detail in every aspect of the resort is amazing and something you don’t often see in Bohol. Little things like the capice shells set in the trifold doors surrounding the restaurant, the linen napkins, fresh bread served with the meal, a real butter knife. Even the lime accompanying our entree was packaged in muslin to prevent seeds falling into our smoked salmon. The list goes on and on.
“Enough of this ranting what was the food like I hear you ask!”
Well dear reader we will get there shortly….Patience.
The restaurant is set in beautiful grounds along a pristine beach with the waves lapping against the shore and the local fishing boats bobbing at anchor just off the beach. The pool takes centre stage in the resort separating the bar from the main restaurant that offers seating options on the beach, on the terrace or within the cosy confines of the main building. Our evenings repast was taken on the beach with the rare pleasure of sand between our toes and a moonlit night.
To the food! After our cocktail at the bar we were seated at our table on the beach by the ever attentive staff. For our meal we chose smoked salmon for starters and my partner for the evening selected the Roasted New Zealand Lamb Rack and I opted for the Fish Platter.
On arriving at the restaurant and reviewing the menu at the bar we were very tempted by the specialities of the house including the seafood platter but we were out of luck as these specials need to be ordered four hours in advance to ensure the kitchen has supplies. Fair enough! So you are warned, if you are not staying at the resort and would like to try these give them a call and pre book (the restaurant web site has the full menu).
Our shared entree of smoked salmon arrived beautifully presented and showing the owner’s European heritage with the succulent pieces of salmon topped with grated egg, asparagus and herbs. The salmon was fresh and perfectly smoked, quite frankly the best we have had in the Philippines. The salmon was accompanied by a small jug of seafood sauce which we found somewhat strange as the dish didn’t need anything else but we assume this is an affectation of other guests’ requests. As mentioned previously the eye for detail was still in evidence with the lime served with the dish contained in a muslin sachet to avoid the seeds.
To the mains but let’s start with my fish. The dish was nicely presented with what seemed to be three different types of fish simply pan fried with a wondrous herb butter. Each piece of fish was slightly overlooked but the pleasure of experiencing the differing textures and tastes between each piece was an absolute pleasure. The confusion over how many types of fish was caused by low light levels on the beach, a full moon would have been better but we would never suggest more light poles. Possibly better oil lamps on the table?
If I was pressed I would guess the fish selection was Blue Marlin (actually usually sword fish) some type of snapper or lapu lapu and tuna. I could be wrong but it was fun trying to guess.
Now, unfortunately to the only sour note to our entire meal. My partner’s lamb rack. First and foremost we should state that we made a dining etiquette mistake. We should have sent the dish back after the first bite as the meat was clearly tainted. Why didn’t we send it back? Well the reason was that we were not sure if the meat taint was part of the ageing process (which some restaurants need to preform to ensure tender meat) or if a heavy marinade was used making the meat somewhat acidic and edgy. By the time we debated this back and forth a half hour had passed with no clear outcome so we decided to give the meal the benefit of the doubt and just enjoy my main and my partner’s vegetables. In hindsight we unfortunately have to report that we think the meat was not up to scratch.
Based on the rest of the meal we believe the lamb was simply an aberration and something that happens every now and again in any kitchen anywhere in the world. But please don’t do what we did. If you ever have a meal that is not up to scratch or worse still ‘off ‘ PLEASE make sure you pass on your comments (constructively) to the kitchen. They always need feedback.
The rest of our meal was very enjoyable we even went so far as having desert (need to do a few more laps in the morning). The deserts selected were crepes and apple pie. Both were beautifully prepared and presented and of huge proportion that we couldn’t finish them. Oh, before I forget the wine list is extensive and of equal status as the main menu. The wines are reasonably priced as well.
So. Is this our first 4.5 star review? Unfortunately not, close though! I am sure our next visit may change that but we shall have to see.
One last thing. If you are looking for the restaurant that scores high on our “magic” scale……this is the one.