The Bellevue Hotel located at Barangay Doljo is a self styled five star hotel that has been a controversial addition to the accommodation scene on Panglao.
We say ‘self styled’ as there is no actual (credible) rating system for hotels in Bohol let alone the Philippines. Saying that though the Bellevue is certainly a far cry from the run of the mill resorts on Panglao with its grand entrance, modern architecture and squeaky clean layout. Anyway we are not here to review the accommodation standards, we will leave that to others.
Before we get into the review let’s just go back several months. We have visited the Bellevue before but decided to wait to review the restaurant giving them time to move from their soft opening to full service. We were also hoping that their other restaurant offerings would be up and running so we could review a broader range of food styles. As it happens not much has changed over the last several months. The other vaunted offerings such as the ‘Cena Fusion Cuisine’ and the ‘Marea al fresco dining’ have yet to materialise which seems strange when you consider how long the resort has now been open.
So our review has to be content with the offerings at the ‘Lamian World Cuisine’. We find the choice of a restaurant’s name is always fascinating. In this instance it is not only fascinating but equally confusing as Lamian is actually a type of Chinese Noodle which has no bearing on what you will experience at the Bellevue.
Our evening started with cocktails on the deck of what we think will become the al fresco dining area. The outlook from the deck is stunning, we sat taking in the view across the immaculately clean beach towards Cebu and the ever deepening rich sunset with lightening playing in the distant clouds. We noticed guards posted at each end of the beach and we sincerely hope that the management of the Bellevue are not playing the exclusivity card of stopping locals and non guests from promenading along the beach as has been tried by some of the more unscrupulous resort owners. For the record there is no such thing as a private beach in the Philippines. The law allows for access along the whole coast. If someone tries to stop you, you may wish to remind them of these facts. Back to the cocktails which were as equally as delicious as the sunset but slightly more expensive than the usual offerings on Panglao (actually three times the price but well worth it for the view).
After our cocktails we adjourned to the restaurant deciding to sit outside and enjoy the evening breeze.
While waiting to place our order we were pleasantly surprised by being approached by a Bellevue employee who we know well from his time in another restaurant we regularly visit. He has joined the Bellevue team to broaden his experience and from what we know of him he will be an excellent asset to the Hotel. On the subject of service and staff we can happily report that the staff are all courteous and friendly albeit they still seem somewhat nervous. This is nervousness is alway evident when you ask of the wine list and see how they manage the de-corking and subsequent service. Wine will inevitably become a more routine beverage at restaurants around Bohol so it is well worth management providing comprehensive instruction to their staff.
The menu offered at the restaurant is a typical mixed bag of fruit trying to be all things to all people which is an obvious challenge for any chef of a resort restaurant. This aside it is not hard to find something that will attract you. The offerings range from pizza to pasta, Pinoy fare, seafood and burgers. The prices are ‘highish’ for Bohol but unfortunately something we will see more of as the tourism industry grows on the island.
So to our meal. This evening we ordered the sushi and sashimi plate to share as an entree and my partner and I stuck with the seafood theme with her ordering the salmon and me the garlic prawns.
The Sushi and Sashimi arrived beautifully presented with nicely cut pieces of tuna and salmon and accompanying wasabi soy and calamansi. To our horror the plate also included some ‘crab sticks’ (kamaboko) which is a faux seafood replacement made from pulverised white fish flesh. What on earth is the chef thinking? Bohol has an abundance of quality (and cheap) seafood to choose from there is simply no need, or excuse to fall back on this ‘fast food’ mass produced product! Other than the aforementioned crab sticks the sushi and sashimi was fresh and lively, served at the correct temperature and with some care in regards to knife skills (not master sushi chef refinement but passable all the same)
Our main courses arrived all to quickly (yes, this is one of our pet hates) and we were presented with two very appealing looking dishes. The salmon was served on a bed of mashed potato with an accompanying citrus sauce and the prawn dish featured a number of succulent prawns on a bed of a ratatouille like mound and topped with an incongruous salad basket. Presentation wise the dishes looked the part…..but. The salmon was heavily overcooked and was dry and tasteless. My partner liked the sauce and mash but was underwhelmed with the salmon. We actually wondered if the salmon came from the buffet as we are a loss how you can overcook a piece of salmon to that degree. My prawns were a contrast of flavours and not necessarily in a good way. The salad cup atop the prawns had a cloying balsamic syrup and did nothing to enhance the flavour of the prawns. The prawns themselves were succulent and perfectly cooked but were overshadowed by the tomato based ratatouille concoction. All in all it just didn’t work. With seafood like this ‘less is more’. If the dish had been served with the mash that my partner had and a fresh garlic sauce it would have been stunning. We decided to leave the desert menu to our next visit. Hopefully on that visit the other dining options will be up and running and we can give the Bellevue another go.
To sum up, the Bellevue is in a stunning location and it is obvious that no expense has been spared in its construction and layout. The place is well worth a visit for a cocktail on the beach but it’s not a place (at the moment) for a special trip for the food.