No "proper" meal can end without dessert - especially if you're paying a lot.
Having had a disappointing run at the savory dishes offered by Intercontinental Hotel Manila's Jeepney Cafe - a place that was once revered in Manila's social scene but seems to have fallen out of sync with the times (a good friend calls them "napag-iwanan", or left by time's wayside), I had all but written them off and was not looking forward to a "sweet ending" that usually punctuates a buffet spread.
(See: http://theguywithablog.blogspot.com/2012/03/jeepney-hits-and-misses-first-of-two.html for the first part of the review.)
The eye-catching part of most dessert spreads would be the chocolate fountain/fondue, given its towering stature. I have to say that the presentation here in Jeepney is a little blah, seeing the metallic tray underneath just reminded me of the word generic. In my mind, this is the portion of any buffet to be fun, whimsical and not-too-serious, none of which I saw in this set-up.
Full disclosure: I am not a fan of this particular treat, as I have seen some children in other buffet spreads, dipping their already eaten marshmallow sticks back into the chocolate fountain to get another whiff of the decadent coating. It's no different from fishball eaters dunking their loot back into the sidewalk vendor's sauce choices after their first bite.
They had dainty little "treats" in various colors and flavors.
The top row was a mango based "treat, the middle one being an obviously a chocolate inspired one, and the bottom row as a blueberry cheesecake "mini". The mango concoction was actually not bad, very soft and not cloyingly sweet, a light touch on the palate and not filling, imagine the word "dainty" on your tongue.
Shades of the Kamayan theme from the savory portion, but in this instance, I think the halo-halo (literally "mix-mix") stands as a representative of our local representative for a sweet meal-ender. There wasn't much of a selection by way of condiments to use in the dish (as can be seen from the photo) so I decided to skip it altogether.
Some of the desserts didn't have labels, so I have to improvise and call these "mousse glasses". I got one that was mango flavored, while Art got the strawberry flavored creation. Both of which were actually good, and I liked the strawberry one better.
This was the best dessert from the choices they had, called "Latour", it had a white top that was a cross up between gelatinous and frosted, a chocolate mousse consistency and flavored first layer after that, a thin layer of sponge cake at the bottom, sandwiching a gooey chocolate center. I think most of the night's patrons also had the same idea, seeing as that was the one dessert that seemed to be on the verge of running out.
They also offered a selection of fruits (Art said the pineapple was sour) as well as a healthy fruit salad, no cream, just a light syrup to accompany assorted fruits.
Having been to places like Circles (Makati Shangri-la) and Spirals (Sofitel), I think the Intercontinental Hotel's management would be well advised to take reconnaissance trips to these places, as they are seen as "excellent" buffet spreads, showcasing what people are looking for: variety, exotic choices, and better value if they're going to shell out 4 digits on one meal.
Nostalgia will not ensure your longevity, which is all about the future, the opposite direction of a stately, grandeur past, of which Jeepney rightfully claims. I hope the management takes this constructively, a chance to better what they offer to the public, and especially in Metro Manila, where people fancy themselves food critics one and all, and with so many choices available, the urge for comparison will be a foregone conclusion.
It's time to make sure that you will be competitive to take on the newer hotels and what they bring to the table - literally.
Art was asking me why I was making such a big deal out of it, because we enjoyed ourselves despite the wanting selection that night, and I said it was because it was not the way Deal Grocer advertised their deal. (I'm taking this description from their website itself.)
With an extensive culinary repertoire, Chef Alisdair Bletcher beefs up Café Jeepney’s buffet with newer international food selection like Peking Duck Rolls, Roast Duck, Lamb Kofta with Cucumber and Mint Raita, Braised Beef with Guinness, Onions and Flaky Pastry and Baked Dory with Herb Crust and Roasted Tomato Sauce, Shabu Shabu, Fajitas, Red Chili Crab, Korean Beef Bulgogi, Arroz Valenciana, Fried Pork Spare Ribs with Orange Sauce, Lechon, as well as a wide variety of new dessert buffet delicacies.
The only things I saw that night from that list were the Fajitas and the Lechon.
I don't know if this was what the hotel told Deal Grocer as their offers, or if this was miscommunication on the part of either parties, but you should not advertise this deal/offer/meal as how you did above, if you were not going to give even at least half of the dishes you used to attract buyers of this deal.
The reality rarely matches up with the fantasy.
And in this case, it was dismally disappointing.