Setting. This is how Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila's 11 million dollar refurbishment looks like— an indoor terrace with water-ringed gazebos, a perfect place for watching the Manila Bay sunset, a staircase circling a vertical Eduardo Castrillo sculpture in the open dining area, and capiz chandeliers and natural light streaming in from sectioned overhead windows and glass-walled lounge. But the main attraction is the hotel's new restaurant, Spiral, featuring 21 open-kitchen stations or ateliers.
Food. I meander around all those spanking new stations before deciding my order. I hesitate before a shelf of quaintly bottled soups and dressings, which I’m told are healthy and organic. Um, no. I linger before the sushi bar, check out the French station, peer down sticky, glistening dumplings, inhale the air near the boulangerie, slide open warmers filled with orange Indian stews, and then stand outside the piece de resistance: L’epicerie, a temperature-controlled glassed-in room containing 27 kinds of cheese from France, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands; 19 types of cold meats; 12 condiments and antipasti; eight ways with olives; and 11 dried nuts and fruit.
You can get your sushi from the Japanese station and have it grilled in another. Wanting to try out the naan, I waited as the cook in the North Indian station slapped the flat dough on the sides of a tandoori oven and then on my plate. At the French station, a divine gnocchi and melted cheese soup with toasted silvers of parma ham were already portioned out in small, lidded treens.
Service. As expected from a five-star hotel.
Crowd. Everyone. On weekends, mostly families.
Price. P2,554 (about US$54) per person for lunch from Monday to Saturday and P2,801 for dinner from Sunday to Thursday.
Verdict. Recommended. Just go and enjoy.
Originally published in Inflight Magazine. Updated May 2016