Unbeknownst to most, there’s a hidden gem in Alabang on top of one of the first hotels in the area, redesigned to look like a cozy living room and patio, with a lovely breeze coming in on most nights. One feels quite at home at The Nest, located atop the Vivere Hotel, with beautifully decorated interiors – gorgeous locally-sourced Malaga tiles decorating the entryway, comfortable chairs inspired by woodland forests, and a using a very natural palette in terms of design – all of this looking out over the bay, the picturesque veranda framing the metropolis, which can be very romantic at night.
The Nest has become a favorite date spot with Southerners, as the restaurant perched 31 floors up is known for the generous portions of international fare, delicious cocktails, the savvy jazz band that croons out tunes at night, and the cozy nooks around the restaurant that couples like to disappear to for a romantic meal and every now and then, and at the end of the night, a proposal.
Being nowhere near entertaining the possibility of an engagement, I prefer paying the establishment a visit in the afternoons. Enjoying brunch with the family or an all girls luncheon with a cocktail or two is always a great excuse to get together and bond over good food and drinks.
Nothing makes me happier than a properly executed salad, and that’s exactly what one gets with The Nest’s Thai-inspired Crispy Catfish Salad (Php 390). The usual bed of ruffage is laden with shredded green mango, a heap of delicate crispy fried and flaked catfish meat, shallots, crushed peanuts, and cilantro. The vinaigrette is slightly sour, activating the salivary glands and making you want to go back for more as you wait for the next dish to be served.
Another interesting salad option is the Mango Salad with Scallops (Php 475). Perfectly grilled scallops are wrapped in spinach and bacon before being topped with a torched hollandaise sauce, served with mixed greens, alfalfa, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and mangoes, tossed in strawberry vinaigrette. This has a little bit of everything and is practically a whole meal on its own. I was initially concerned that there was way too much going on in the plate, but once you take a bite one experiences an array of flavors and textures – sweet, savory, salty, bitter, crunchy, and soft – you will definitely end up polishing off the plate.
One of The Nest’s best selling sizzler, the Beef Salpicao (Php 450), really shouldn’t be passed up. Imagine tender chunks of U.S. beef cooked in rich olive oil, served with lots of crispy garlic, chilies, and garlic mashed potatoes. Use a spoon to get stuck in with a little bit of everything with lots of the olive oil and beef rendering, savoring every last bite. This goes exceptionally well with a tall glass of one of their craft beers, so ask your server what’s available the next time you plan on stopping by.
A little less oily but still racking up all that delicious flavor is the Pan Grilled Chicken & Garlic Steak (Php 380) – marinated garlic chicken thigh steaks with lots of garlic chips are served with grilled vegetables flavored with the chicken drippings and steamed white rice. You will be asking for extra rice – guaranteed.
The Vongole (Php 310) is alright, put together with fresh clams stewed in white wine, tossed in garlic, chili, and fresh, homemade linguine. I found this underwhelming at the time, as the pasta was overcooked and the white wine sauce had seeped into the linguine, making it bloat. But then that’s why you get when you let your camera eat first.
If you plan on impressing your date, offer the Bistro Steak (Php 1,155) – a hearty 225 grams of well-marbled meltique striploin with a creamy mushroom and peppercorn demiglace sauce. This is served with corn, asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, and a potato mash.
My personal favorite, and something I will always keep coming back for, is The Nest’s Crispy Binagoongan (Php 475). Big chunks of oh-so-crispy lechon kawali is served atop a bed of bagoong, and served with a side of grilled eggplant, tomatoes and green mango that you can dice and mix to turn into ensaladang mangga. One serving of rice is never enough, and I strongly recommend you share this cholesterol raising dish with someone.
To finish any meal at The Nest, one must try the Mango Crème Brûlée (Php 220). The execution of the simple, creamy vanilla custard is taken up a notch with the inclusion of ripe Philippine mangoes, covered with sugar and torched, releasing the sweetness in the fruit and making for an interesting end to lunch or dinner. The Nest also has lovely Harney & Sons tea selection – the Pomegranate Oolong going very well with this sweet treat.
For the chocoholics, the Decadent Molten Lava Cake with Salted Caramel (Php 220) is a treat, with the ganache center oozing out of the moist cake and onto the salted caramel base.
The high ceilings with its mirrors and big windows let in a lot of natural light into the space, I have already been back to enjoy a spot of tea and dessert with a friend or two. At around 5 o’clock, I would find myself with a cocktail in hand, valiantly trying to finish the big serving of alcohol before I head on home.
My favorite drink at the bar is their Strawberry Cinnamon Sangria (Php 320) made with Merlot, brandy, strawberry purée, a dash of cinnamon, and your required chopped fruit. The cocktail smells strongly of cinnamon and tastes light and fruity, but you can feel the alcohol kick in once you stand up. Stick to one glass if you plan on walking out of the restaurant in heels or it may get ugly.
The Nest’s take on the popular mojito is their Lolito (Php 310), an Asian take that uses Anejo 1800 muddled with lemongrass, mint, ginger, and lime. Slightly spicy, sour, and very refreshing.
Overall, I am very glad to know that the standards of my once go-to dating place hasn’t changed. Not just a great place to bring a date, the restaurant is also very family friendly, as well as a great spot to just get away with friends and chill for a few hours to enjoy the weather. I’m also happy to report that the food and the drinks are still portioned out very generously, with most of the dishes being good for sharing, and the drinks being big enough for one to nurse for most of the night. But of course, don’t let that stop you from ordering more.
The Nest is located at the 31st floor of the Vivere Hotel, 5102 Bridgeway Avenue, Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa and is open daily from 11am – 11pm. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 2 771 7777.