Themed restaurants are always interesting to visit but the first question that goes through your mind……is the theme idea designed to overshadow the real star, the food?
In recent years there has been a resurgence of themed restaurants worldwide including Viking Restaurants, robot restaurants, dinner in the sky, dinner in the dark, the list goes on.
Some of these restaurants deliver both in theme and food but most usually fail on one front or the other.
Our visit to the Wine Cellar was not our first. We have dined several times but usually during a featured dining evening such as a holiday celebration or a themed evening such as one of their duck menu evenings. The night we reviewed the restaurant we dined with our other reviewers so we had a chance to try several dishes.
So let’s set the scene. The restaurant is located in the Sunside Resort not far from Alona. The restaurant entrance is behind the bar and pool table and accessed down a set of stairs to the ‘cellar’. First impressions are of quality and an eye for detail. There has obviously been a lot of thought, time and money spent in setting up the wine cellar. The underground nature of the restaurant transports you to, well a cellar. The cellar could be anywhere but its a nice juxtaposition when you consider you are on a tropical island. So far so good the cellar part certainly delivers.
Unfortunately the wine part not so much. It’s hard at the best of time getting quality wine in Bohol so one would hope that a wine cellar would really deliver. Unfortunately the wine selection is quite lacklustre and very German centric. The prices are reasonable but it would have been nice to see a greater variety wines from different countries, regions, new world and old.
Maybe the market isn’t big enough as yet for restaurateurs to invest in large stocks of wine? For those reading this review and are connoisseurs of wine the best wine cellar in Bohol is at the Peacock Gardens at Baclayon.
So to the food. The menu is large but not overly so, offering a good range of options from soups, salad, chicken, pork, beef, fish, asian and snacks.
Our group ordered Singaporean Chilli Shrimp, Chef’s Salad, Steak Ala Peter (we assume the owners name), Chicken Cordon Bleu and Red Chicken Curry. We had every intention of ordering deserts afterwards but alas the mains were so large none of us could contemplate anything else.
Each dish was competent but nothing out of the ordinary. You can tell there is a strong European (German?) influence in the kitchen. Comfort food comes to mind but similar offerings can be found in the other german/swiss restaurants around Bohol. What the food lacked in finesse was made up for in the quality of the ingredients and the serving sizes. This is certainly not modernist or nouvelle cuisine.
Service was friendly and fast (the restaurant wasn’t overly crowded). The only misstep was the steak that was ordered medium rare but delivered raw. Unfortunately the cut of meat used would be impossible to get right without special cooking techniques. It was sent back and quickly returned cooked correctly. In these cases you fear the chef would nuke the meat in the microwave but the chef resisted the temptation and did the right thing cutting the meat and re searing it. The meat was flavoursome and tender. At P590 its hard to believe they can make a profit but hey, who’s complaining. Another strange affectation of the service was that the waitress asked what ‘grade’ steak we would like. We quickly surmised she was asking about doneness. I think the last time we were asked which grade of steak was in a famous Parisian restaurant! On another unrelated note we felt the restaurant could benefit from more subdued lighting as it has a certain cafeteria feel to it with all the lights blaring.
All in all an enjoyable evening and we are sure our readers would enjoy a visit.