From deep forays into Italian cuisine, I ventured into the French arena this time. Too bad though, because I didn’t bring a camera (again!) when I had an intimate dinner with friends and guests at Claude’s Le Café de Ville last Wednesday.
Living in Davao for many, many years now, Monsieur Claude Le Neindre has given Davao one of the city’s best dining places. He has extensive experience in the hotel and restaurant industry, having been the food & beverages manager of the Pearl Farm, and the general manager of the venerable Insular Hotel, among others. Claude’s is in fact the only authentic French restaurant in Davao. They offer a true fine-dining experience, and have been around since the early 1990s.
Aside from the main dining area, Claude’s also has an al fresco (how do you say this in French?) bar, and a private room good for eight people, called the Zebra Room. That’s where I had a sumptuous dinner with colleagues in the I.T. industry and three Japanese nationals. It was an enjoyable and fulfilling encounter for me: I got to practice my Nihongo, amid good company, and nourished with good food!
The Zebra Room, which is behind Claude’s main restaurant, is perfect for a small family gathering — say, a graduation lunch or an anniversary celebration — or for a high-powered business meeting. Need to impress a client? Claude’s, with their elegant ambience and excellent cuisine, would be the logical choice.
My dinner companions had Claude’s awesome steaks, but I wasn’t really hunkering for beef then, so I had pork stew. It was prepared so that the meat was very tender and juicy, and tasted subtly of some spices that I couldn’t identify. The beans were rather dry for my taste, though. But the sauce was heavenly!
Not very French fare, you might say. But I did have crépes topped with French vanilla ice cream for dessert. And, of course, French red wine. Claude’s house red, a Cabernet-Sauvignon from the south of France, is highly recommended. Its mild flavor and aromatic bouquet will go well with most dishes, even with the restaurant’s blue marlin steak, I imagine.
One of the appetizers that I absolutely enjoy at Claude’s is their Paté de Foie Gras. Unfortunately, my guests were not overly eager about having such a rich item before dinner, so I didn’t order it this time. But do try it when you’re there. It tastes ever so perfectly with their caramelized onion jam.
Claude’s Le Café de Ville is located in the Habana Compound, on Rizal St., Davao City. It’s a petite place, so it would be advisable to call ahead and make reservations — dial 222-4287.