There are days when you crawl out of bed and nothing seems to have gone right. Due to certain circumstances, you find yourself unable to sleep and, when you finally do, you sleep through the alarm, wake up late, and find yourself with a number of little annoyances to deal with before you finally manage to get ready for work. On days like these, sulking for the whole day is a tempting option. However, I would suggest you fight off the blue funk by throwing yourself heart and soul into the day’s work. And, come noon, do what I did today: treat yourself to a very good lunch. For today, my venue of choice was Le Bistro Vert.
Le Bistro Vert is run by the same three ladies who brought the popular environmentally-savvy ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle to life in tandem with the owner of the Le Bistro chain of coffee shops. That said, LBV specializes in sustainable food, as seen in their on-site manifesto:
Here at Le Bistro Vert, we want to share with you the joy of eating sustainably …by eating healthier, and enjoying an abundance of fresh, wholesome, locally grown produce. We try to source most of our ingredients from local farmers and producers, community groups, small organic farms or those which do not use any chemicals that are toxic to the environment.
Today’s dominant form of agriculture relies on synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, large amounts of water, major transportation systems and factory-style practices for raising livestock and crops. Artificial hormones in milk, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, mad cow disease, and large-scale outbreaks of potentially deadly e.coli are all associated with this industrial form of food production.
Le Bistro Vert offers a special sustainable food menu which ensures that food products support earth-friendly initiatives and help sustain local farmers. The food on Le Bistro Vert’ s table involves food production methods that are healthy, do not harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities.
LBV’s airy interiors were conceived by green-friendly architect Dan Lichauco and the menus were devised by internationally-trained chef Sau del Rosario. Both the surroundings and the food are meant to give diners a relaxing, healthy, and delectable culinary experience.
To describe the interiors would be to liken them to one’s own living or dining room at home: casual, unpretentious, relaxing – qualities that make the restaurant a great place to unwind for us denizens of the corporate world. The seats are well-cushioned and the placemats are, surprisingly, made of blue denim.
All diners at LBV are served a small bowl of what appear to be crisp-fried potato crisps. But the surprise here is that these are actually made with sweet potatoes as opposed to regular spuds. A bit firmer to the bite than regular chips with the characteristic, somewhat honeyed flavor of yams, these make for an unusual starter for a meal.
This is what I had for lunch: the Inch-thick Pork Chop. It’s a beautifully thick, absolutely juicy pork chop with a good layer of fat – neither too thin or thick – and grilled to smoky perfection. The chop sits on a fluffy cushion of garlic mashed potatoes and is topped by a cilantro-infused mango-tapioca salsa. The chop itself is tender and flavorful; I suspect that all this baby needed was some proper sea-salt, a tinge of parsley, and freshly ground black pepper. It’s so succulent and the savory jus drips into the potatoes below.
Eaten alone, the potatoes are a tad salty, but they come into their own as a real side as the saltiness is balanced by the smoky-rich meat and the sharp tang of the accompanying salsa. A small bowl of oniony-buttery brown rice pilaf rounds out the meal.
I didn’t have it for this particular visit, but I also recommend LBV’s spiced pumpkin soup which comes with a peppery pappadum and a tangy swirl of lime yogurt. This isn’t the classically comforting potage au potiron; instead, it’s an eye-popping puree filled with complex flavors. The traditional spices of Indian cuisine – cumin, coriander, cardamom, and ginger – all come into play, adding a fiery touch to creamy sweetness.
The food is rich, but it doesn’t make you feel bloated or uncomfortably sleepy. Instead, you feel refreshed and invigorated – ready to face the rest of your day.
I look at my plate – which now looks more like the remains of a demolition derby than the beautifully presented savory confection it was mere minutes ago – and sip my deliciously tart cranberry juice (perfect for a sweltering day). And I think that the day isn’t so bad at all.
One other thing… I dedicate this meal to my Mom, our #1 pork chop fan at home. Happy birthday, Ma!
Le Bistro Vert: Streetside – Ground Floor, Forbes Tower, Fraser Place, HV dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati