El Cocinero by Chef Arnaldo
La Bella Residence, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Neogan, Tagaytay, Cavite
- 2 Reviews
- 0 Recommend
- 2 Reviewers
- Business Hours
- Reopens: 10:30a - 10:00p
- 10:00a - 10:00p
- 10:30a - 10:00p
- 10:30a - 10:00p
- 10:30a - 10:00p
- 10:30a - 10:00p
- 10:00a - 10:00p
More Business Info
- Take Out:
- Outdoor Seating:
- Lunch, Dinner
- Good for Groups:
Most Recent Reviews
One of Tagaytay's hidden gems! I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
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Tagaytay continues to grow with new dining spots specializing in different cuisines. One of the newest dining places is El Cocinero by Chef Arnaldo.
We came to learn of El Cocinero through a food article published about new Tagaytay dining places. The prospect of authentic Spanish cuisine in Tagaytay certainly was promising. Albeit run and owned by a Filipino Chef, the thought of him having lived and cooked in Ibiza, Spain for some 14 years was certainly something hard to resist.
The place is a hidden away from the renowned dining spots along the Tagaytay ridge. Located in a new property development (La Bella Residence), El Cocinero is one of the 3 commercial spots currently operating inside the development. Sticking to the theme of the development, El Cocinero exudes a lovely modern Mediterranean theme. It's Santorini inspired design was a predominantly white airy structure with white washed walls, colorful tiles, metal and tile seatings, colorful baroque glass lamps, and bold colorful accents with digitally printed wall murals and artworks.
While waiting for our meal, we were given a quick guided tour around the restaurant and the neighboring commercial cottages by the Chef's friendly and engaging wife, Marissa.
El Cocinero is a small two story structure. It's colorful accents and lovely outdoor terraces made the place quite picturesque and looked perfect for dining and some intimate evening night caps. The place was adorned with digitally printed artworks of Picasso (we were told they purchased these expensive prints). They intend to change the art pieces every six months and feature artworks of renowned Spanish masters.
Interestingly, we were told that one of the the requirements of the developer was that no trees were allowed to be cut down just to give way to the structures. So don't be surprised if you find a living tree trunk jutting out of their dining area and another tree trunk passing through the roof of their toilette.
The neighboring commercial cottage was a cute whimsical curio shop owned by Derek Ramsay's mom. A short walk across the tree covered garden was a structure that housed a shop called Bodhi selling organic products and likewise housed a zennish-hipster library. They sold /rented out a collection of books including self improvement/meditation books (they require you to enter barefooted and lounge in their rug and throw pillow lined sitting area while enjoying herbal tea and coffee). The gem of this structure was its roof deck (I highly recommend you check it out). After some flight of stairs up the structure, they have a cozy small roof deck lounge with tule covered thick sofas. A favorite nook of visitors for some tranquil "me-time" while they read books amidst the tree tops.
The owner had originally opened El Cocinero in Nasugbu Batangas before opening the Tagaytay spot. His first hole-in-the-wall Nasugbu branch became quite popular due to the authenticity of his Spanish cuisine. He was also a popular chef of choice for catered fine dinners amongst families with rest-home properties around Batangas' exclusive beach front subdivisions (Tali, Punta Fuego, Calatagan, etc). Being quite popular with that exclusive circle, he was personally invited by the owner of La Bella Residence Development to open the first food spot in the new sprawling property.
We indulged ourselves with a number of Chef Arnaldo's Spanish specialties.
For starters, we were served fresh home baked baguette with 4 special dips made by the Chef ( I particularly loved the aioli and the balsamic reduction dips).
We loved their Verdura Y Gambas for our appetizer. The dish, quite Mediterranean in color and flavor, was made of grilled and seasoned fresh mushrooms, zucchini , tomatoes, sweet red and yellow bell peppers, and succulent shrimps. The ingredients were lightly tossed with EVOO and topped with grated Machego cheese.
The Rollo Pacenta de Asada, which we had to order a day in advance, was simply divine. It was a huge roll of boneless pork (5 kilos to be exact- and was more than enough to serve our group of 12). The dish was deliciously seasoned with a thin crispy golden-brown skin and a succulently tender moist meat. An indulgent pork dish that was reminiscent of a cross between very good Cochinillo, Porchetta, and boneless Lechon . Too bad though, I wasn't able to take of a photo of the whole huge pork roll before they served the dish sliced.
Paella Negra: we loved the Chef's take on this Spanish dish. Served in a paellera pan, the rice dish certainly tasted like nothing was scrimped to achieve the authentic flavor. From the squid ink, the fresh succulent seafoods, the rice grains, down to the socarrat or the thin paella burnt rice crust that sticks to the pan. Spaniards refer to the "tutong" as the "caviar" of a paella dish.
Paella de Marisco: we loved the shellfish paella. The rice was rich with the flavors of the fresh shrimps, crabs, green mussels, and chorizo. The paella spice giving that rich orange hue was likewise delicious. Again perfectly cooked in a paellera pan with the delicious thin "tutong" crust.
It was a good thing that when I booked for our group, Their receptionist recommended that I ordered the paella dishes in advance to cut on the waiting time. Other wise, walk-ins would have to wait some 30-45 minutes for the paella to be cooked. An indication that their paellas were freshly made and not reheated/premade like some restaurants.
Pescado al Horno: the dish was one of the Chef's specialty ( we were told the dish was quite popular in Ibiza). The dish was made of baked fresh sea grouper served over baked potato slices and a side salad. The dish was drizzled with a delicious seasoned EVOO based sauce that had a slight chili kick and served with homemade aioli. We loved the freshness and clean flavors of this specialty dish.
Quatro Queso Penne: This was easily "death by cheese " pasta goodness. Four sharp, creamy, salty cheeses cooked into a gooey , creamy sauce and mixed with penne pasta.
Marguerita Pizza: perhaps the only non-Spanish dish that we ordered to cater to the kids' whim in our group. El Cocinero's take was a thin, nicely charred crust topped with sharp cheese, fresh tomato sauce, and tomato slices. We enjoyed it more with the Chef's home made chili sauce.
Chef Arnaldo's Cheesecake: we loved the baked cheesecake dish. Thick, dense , yet chewy with the right balance of creaminess, sourness, and faint zing.
Creme Brûlée Catalan: a delicious and creamier take on Creme Brûlée. We loved the right level of sweetness and the addicting texture of the pastry.
Chef Arnaldo came out to chat with our group as we ended our meal. It was nice that albeit his culinary connections and experience, this chef remained down to earth , friendly, and quite engaging. It was evident that he was very passionate of his craft. He explained that he did not substitute the ingredients nor did he "shortcut" the cooking process to compromise the authenticity and flavors of his dishes. He stuck with the key ingredients that he used while doing his cooking stint in Ibiza. He stocked up on imported ingredients not readily available locally. He thinks that this was the reason why his discerning Filipino-Spanish clienteles have been loyal to his cooking.
He also told us that he accepts special requests to whip up Spanish dishes not listed in the menu (this must be called in advance). It was so nice that when he learned our group was there for my mom's birthday, Chef Arnaldo had his kitchen whip up an assortment platter of Creme Brûlée and Cheesecake complete with a birthday candle for my mom.
By Tagaytay standards, perhaps their pricing may be considered on the medium-high side (our total bill-- including beverages-- amounted to roughly 1400 per head). But considering the authenticity of flavors , cooking process, and the authenticity of ingredients, I think that the price was pretty much justified.
Finding the place can be a bit of a challenge. It sits at a new compound in Neogan Tagaytay. It is the sitio after the Radar Hill along the main highway. The developer just recently opened a new access road that leads directly to the compound (it isn't updated yet in any geo location map-apps). The new road's landmark is the freshly paved narrow road just beside Antonio's Cabana. Upon entering that street, just follow the marked arrows/signs to the village gate of La Bella Residence estate.
El Cocinero by Chef Arnaldo comes highly recommended to foodies craving for fine and authentic Spanish Cuisine. And if you do plan to visit and feast on some of their house specialties, I recommend that you call them at least a day in advance.
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