Dinner Date Guide: Antonio’s in Tagaytay
Fall in love with the best restaurant in the Philippines
By Arete Mequi
February 12, 2016
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and we believe the same thing can be applied to a woman too. After all, everybody loves great food. When a man and a woman go out on a date, it’s a must that they share a meal together. And when great-tasting food is paired with a lovely ambience, play a Barry White song and you’ve just perfectly set the mood for some romance.
And the romance couldn’t get any better when you’re in Antonio’s, a rustic farm mansion in Tagaytay that’s been turned into a fine dining restaurant. It has been named the Best Restaurant in the Philippines by S. Pellegrino and the first Filipino entry to be included in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. It also ranked 17th in Asia’s Top 20 Restaurants by the Miele Guide in 2013. With these prestigious accolades, Antonio’s is arguably the best restaurant in the Philippines.
If the thought of having a romantic dinner date in the country’s best restaurant excites you, then allow us to walk you through with this simple guide. Read on and you’ll be sweeping your date off their feet in no time.
First things first
Antonio’s is strictly by reservation. You can visit this link in their website to reserve a date. Do this at least 2 months in advance so you’ll have a better chance of getting booked. Attire is also strictly smart casual so make sure you dress up and you look sharp before heading out.
How to get there
Antonio’s is located at Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City. It is nestled in a remote area so finding it can be a bit tricky. To get to Antonio’s, make your way to Tagaytay Rotonda first. From there, head on to the direction leading to Batangas. Just go straight ahead, passing by Taal Vista, Casino Filipino, and Bag of Beans. Keep going until you see Antonio’s signage to your right. Turn right and just follow the signs along the winding road that will lead you to the restaurant. It’s a long ride but it’s been said over and over again that the road trip to Antonio’s is always worth it. For those without private cars, there are tricycles near the Antonio’s signage that can take you there. And don’t be surprised if the driver asks you, “Do you have a reservation?”
Once there, you’d feel like you’re in the hacienda of a very wealthy friend. The restaurant exudes a homey atmosphere—beautifully furnished, adorned with lush gardens, antiques, artworks, and family photos. The only thing you’ll hear is faint lounge music and the water from the koi ponds around. No Barry White songs playing here (obviously, we’re fans of the "Godfather of Love") but you and your date will be charmed by the romantic vibe created by the dim lights and the elegant ambience.
What to order
Antonio’s specializes in European cuisine, infused with Filipino and other Asian elements. You’ll find different kinds of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood dishes on the menu, but if you haven’t eaten lamb or duck before, then you’ve come to the right place. Try the pommery rubbed roasted rack of lamb with the amazing beurre blanc (butter sauce), which is so tender that you’d want to eat lamb every day. Meanwhile, have your date enjoy Antonio’s version of duck leg confit, a traditional French duck leg dish with crispy skin and succulent juicy meat. The kitchen is manned by very skilled chefs, and your standards when it comes to delicious food will be raised for sure.
For a restaurant of this caliber, you shouldn’t be surprised when we say that the food will require saving more than a few pennies. An entrée for one person will set you back about P1500 to P2300. A serving of their steak is good enough for two persons and costs more than P5000. They also have a selection of delectable appetizers that range from P180 to P850. For those who wish to pair their meals with wine, a glass of red or white costs P250 to P500.
Why it’s worth it
It may be pricey, but dining in Antonio’s is totally worth the scrimping. For one, you’ll have a full meal just by ordering the entrées since they all come with the house salad (from the freshest ingredients grown in Antonio’s farm), soup of the day, coffee or tea, and a choice of their lovely dessert—our recommendations would be the Felchlin Maracaibo chocolate terrine with double ice cream and the panna cotta with honeycomb caramelo. The service is also impeccable, courtesy of the restaurant’s well-trained staff. We’ve tried some of the poshest and most inventive fine dining restaurants in Metro Manila, but there is something that warms our hearts and makes us want to go on a road trip to Tagaytay whenever we look back on our own experiences in Antonio’s. Apart from the food, maybe it’s the exclusivity of the place, or the fact that some of us indeed fell in love while dining in this very restaurant.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted when you arrive by Chef Antonio "Tony Boy" Escalante, the man behind this remarkable restaurant. Chef Tony Boy is not only an award-winning chef but a master at being a gracious host as well. He earned his chops in the Regency Park Institute of Tafe in Australia and in the now defunct Mandarin Oriental in Makati under some of country’s best chefs. Feel free to ask him for a selfie with you and your date; he’s a celebrity among the foodies and restaurateurs in the country.
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