This is what’s it’s like to dine in a ‘vubble’
An option are poolside cabanas that are partially enclosed with tempered glass panels
It’s unwise to say things are back to normal a year after the pandemic lockdown, if one bases this on the heavy traffic situation or the horde of pedestrians on the road. Things are certainly not back to normal, but still we find ways to live our lives as normally as possible.
This could mean scheduling socially distant lunches with friends outdoors or taking a brisk walk outside with a mask and shield on and a bottle of hand sanitizer at the ready.
Hotels and restaurants have to think outside the box, taking into account safety protocols to attract the attention of potential customers.
When they reopened late last year, Hilton Manila offered clear domes that were arranged around the poolside it shares with Sheraton Manila.
The igloo-like “Vubbles” were booked solid during the recent Valentine’s weekend. Guests dined on a three-course menu (starter, main and dessert) that included welcome cocktails and handmade pralines. Priced at P18,500 for two, it still managed to snag couples who wanted to celebrate in the privacy of their own Vubble.
Last week, Hilton Manila gave this writer a preview of their three-course cabana dinner menu that is less expensive at P9,500 for two, and is set up at one of three poolside spaces.
The area is not exactly a cabana; it’s more an umbrella-covered, semiprivate spot partially enclosed with tempered glass panels. A table is set up in the middle, and perched on the ledge is a Bluetooth speaker where couples can connect their mobile phones and listen to their own Spotify playlists.
Executive sous chef Lord Bayaban explained that the grilled Angus rib eye served with mashed potato and vegetables is butter-aged for 32 days before being grilled to the customer’s preferred doneness.
“Some chefs age their beef for up to 100 days but I find that 32 days is enough. The butter encasing the beef keeps it moist,” Bayaban said.
After letting it rest but just before serving it, he tops the steak with salt flakes to impart a pleasant crunch and flavor.
It’s worth noting that the bread basket served once guests are seated is exceptional and varied. I must have eaten three: a soft dinner roll, and two firmer ones dotted with nuts and sunflower seeds.
The dinner includes a choice of red or white wine. Red might have been the expected choice to pair with steak, but the balmy weather merited a crisp cold white. INQ
Hilton Manila is at 1 Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay City. Tel. 72397788.
Raoul J. Chee Kee is a Lifestyle writer and desk editor.