One usually reliable and consistently enjoyable buffet dining experience is Makati Shangrila Hotel's "Circles". Most people that I know don't have much to complain about it - or its sister-diner "Heat" (in Shangrila Edsa Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City). I recently took my family here for one of our gastronomic soirees. Unfortunately, it was mostly an underwhelming experience - coupled with a baffling reservation process. If you've been following this blog, you'd know that buffet dining is a common experience for us.
|Makati's Shangrila stands proud in the heart of the financial district.|
In fact, my crustacean made my stomach queasy. The aftertaste lingered long after dinner. There were two entries of lechon (one of which was the piglet, on photo), and both were bland. I distinctly remember one pork dish we enjoyed, but that was mostly it. One main dish in a sea of food.
If you like desserts though, you will enjoy their sweets section. I loved their "ginataan" in its purplish glory.
Their fruit station was also commendable, most especially the mangoes on display - sweet and fresh. There's a table with 3 different kinds of "iced tea" concoctions, including a "green tea". None succeeded to impress. I preferred drinking water instead.
The place fills up fast and reservations are required. What's rather ridiculous was, when I called to reserve seats, I was asked by the lady I was talking to to "come here in the morning and pay a reservation fee" so I could guarantee my reservation. A dining reservation requires my presence at the hotel hours before dining? Is this the alternate world? It felt like being in the Twilight Zone.
Entonces, my calling them for a reservation was almost a useless deal - not to mention a truly ridiculous and tedious exercise to have to go to the hotel in the morning just to reserve seats. It was a preposterous thing. I told her we will be there on the time I required the seats. If we're not, then they can cancel the aforementioned. Simple. "It's regulations, sir," she replied. Then I asked her to get my credit card details for their exquisitely silly, albeit optional pre-dining ritual, for Pete's sake. "We don't do that, sir!" Huh? And can I just say again how truly RIDICULOUS it was?
Talk about an exercise in futility, right?
I told her I do not intend to make a special trip to the hotel prior to the reserved date and time. Either she took note of the reservation or my credit card details - or she declines it! Period. "Okay sir, you have 15 minutes to get to the restaurant on the appointed time - or we'll cancel your reservation," she said. There you go! Wasn't that less asinine? There are less moronic ways to assure reservations.
To be quite honest, it just didn't seem apropos for Makati's premiere hotel to be practicing such preposterous "rules". They require your presence and a special trip so you can go back in the evening for your dinner? What was that? An appointment with the dentist? Visa application at the U.S. Embassy? Screening process for an audience with the Queen?
So it goes. The proof of the pudding was in the eating. And for PhP2,200 (roughly $50) per person for a group of six, the gastronomic experience wasn't all that different from eating at a fast food chain; except that they served more. What happened to their "consistently enjoyable dining experience"? Maybe it was the chef's bad day?
This series of buffet dining was part of our post-Christmas family activity where for two weeks, we'd hop into different buffet restaurants every 4 days or so. In the span of 2 weeks, we dined at Oceano in far away Acuatico Resort; Manila Hotel's Cafe Ilang Ilang (at P3,200 each), Guevarra's by Chef Laudico (which was 1/4 the price of Circles) and this one. Proximity of the dates makes comparison easy. I tried several times to make a reservation at Solaire's "Fresh International Restaurant" but they were either mostly full (on the single time someone came to pick up the phone) or no one attends to their calls. This was baffling to me as well, but hey, I don't care. It's their business if they don't want more customers.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|My buffet haul - the first and last main-course plate. Nothing tasted right. It was a cold plate so do the math. Check the discoloration of the crustacean for hints of freshness.|
|Bounty of the sea. Nothing warm.|
|Ginataan - this should be one of my very few favorites here.|
|The one and only piglet from 6::30PM to 9:30PM. Taste as bland as it gets.|
|Varieties of iced tea and nothing tasted right. Go figure.|