A. Venue is definitely the next food spot to conquer. It's just a shame that whenever I go there, the place seems desperate for customers. The restaurants, all new, fight for diners as they enter the Makati Avenue mall. There are a few places I would prioritize to try after seeing their menus. Artina Gallery Cafe is one of them.
I knew I had to visit the place. It was an art gallery slash restaurant. Again, the good marketing strategy of making it more than just a restaurant. They even named it so close to art but the gallery concept uplifted the ambience, even though the place was small and not that high end. It was a good place to have a meal with friends, not really a date place. So, after a meeting, we decided to finally try this out for lunch. It had the most customers in A. Venue at that time. Here were the orders:
Let's start with pasta. This is the Linguini with Seafood in Spanish Saffron and Cream Sauce (P290). The linguini was aldente to begin with. There were fish chunks, shrimps, and mussels I think. The saffron and cream sauce was a bit on the salty side, but the mixture was ok (meaning, not that spectacular, and not bad). I don't know if I would react more to this dish since it didn't create any impact (good or bad) on me.
Now for the entrees. When I'm in a new restaurant, I make it a point to talk to a well-versed waiter knowledgeable of the items on the menu. It's because I ask this simple question, "What's the best you have to offer?" Sometimes, I just tell them to give me what they think would delight me most. Here, they answered the Grilled Salmon Fillet with Citrin Risotto, Pesto Glaze and Grilled Vegetables (P360). I was at first hesitant because the name was so pretentious. I think they were really trying to name the dish as appetizing as it sounded. But since I wanted fish, I gave in. A few notes on this. One, the fish was a bit overcooked, which made it dry. Salmon is a hard fish to cook I think, and you really have to have the freshest catch to bring out excellent flavor. Second, the pesto glaze was almost ignorable. Third, the citrin risotto was cooked well, and the lemony flavor blended well with the fish. Of course.
And so, I was disappointed because I expected so much. Moving on, I then tried the other dishes of my colleagues. One was the Grilled Chicken Breast in Rosemary and Garlic Essence with Mashed Potatoes (P315). They really name their dishes well. It came out like any other grilled chicken of course, spiced up by garlic and rosemary. It was again dry and too flavorful. Too much salt or something? The good thing about this dish are the mashed potatoes. Creamy and smooth.
The last entree was the Crisp Chicken Steak with Mushroom Gravy and Rice Pilaf (P315). Again, with a good name, it came out like how it was described. I liked this dish though, since it was comfort food.
I would recommend them to have a nice dessert menu, as the items were uninteresting. They were offering Mary Grace Ensaymadas which was weird. I wonder if Tita Grace had a stake in this. I love Mary Grace, but they should have offered their own desserts. So, the verdict is that Artina wasn't as I expected it to be. But it's alright since I knew I really had high expectations. Artina is a must try when in A. Venue. It is a good place to unwind after a long tiring office day. And bring friends, it's that kind of place.