Friday, January 26, 2007

Cebu

This week we ventured to Cebu (123 Market St). The massive space previously housed World Fusion and Rococo. We were excited to try the restaurant because the chef was from Cuba Libre, one of Philly's best restaurants.

Dave's Take:

The building was very open and inviting so I was surprised when I kept needed to slide my seat in for people to get by, especially when there were only 3 other tables at the restaurant. The decor was cool at first glance but then you notice things like the half vase on the wall with extremely fake looking flowers. Wine list was reasonable with a good selection of Spanish and South American wine. Still very hopeful. The appetizers were a let down. Especially since I was craving some good Ceviche and got what was really just seared tuna with some sauce and little gelatin cubes that taste like gummy bears. Don't get me wrong, I love gummy bears, but not when billed ceviche. So far, not that big a fan. Here comes some redemption. The skirt steak entree was good. Marinated and grilled, piled on top of mashed potatoes that had a hint of wasabi and generous lumps of back fin blue claw. Final thoughts: 2 out of 4. Outlook: This is a doomed space and it needs a dynamite or creative revamp to survive. This is not it. Let's hope the next restaurant is.

Jess' Take:
We got an appetizer trio, or what they call the Cebu Trifecta, getting to taste the Shanghai Lumpia (by far the best of the three), Ceviche Kinilaw (which, as Dave mentioned, was really seared tuna) and Tokwa. This ended up being a most cost effective way to try the three appetizers. They were nothing special, but we were starving, so we scarfed it down. Also, they served guava butter with the bread... pretty tasty. My big mistake was ordering the Paella. I was intrigued by the description, but it turned out to be very unenjoyable. Very fishy tasting and dry. I ended up eating a good portion of Dave's dish (more than my allotted 20%!). No dessert included chocolate, so we declined, which was a good move once we got the check and realized how much pricey it was. Over all I give it 2 dry mussels out of 4.

Wade's Take:

It had me at hello. At first, anyway. Walking into Cebu makes you feel grand. The beams of colored light, enormously high ceilings, snaking wooden bar and gargantuan vases make the ambience memorable (with some cheesy details).

Cebu’s interior makes for great distraction up and away from your plate. I guess it's needed, because I liked only about a third of the dishes I tasted.

Of the three appetizers we tried – only the Shanghai Lumpia was memorable. There were three sauces served – one tasted like some Bath and Body Works product a sorority girl would rub on, the other was too tart, but at least the third was a spicy concoction to my liking.

When it came to the entrees – guess what? I only truly liked Dave’s skirt steak. Jess' Paella was subpar. The Kare Kare was good, but if I’m dropping these kind of bucks I want something more than what tasted like Philipino potroast.

We skipped dessert – where are the chocolate options, I ask?

Even after all that - I’d give it another shot. Cebu is one of those places that is your back-up to your back-up. When out-of-town guests demand ethnic food in Olde City, and Morimoto and Cuba Libre are full – I guess that’s when you head to Cebu.

Two oxtails out of four.

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