Friday, January 25, 2008

Carver's Tender Roast

Carver's Tender Roast

Location :
Mall Of Asia, Pasay City
Cuisine :
Menu Price Range : Php 99.00 - Php 169.00
Service Charge: none
Rating : D+

Found huddled amongst the various eateries found in Mall of Asia, Carver's Tender Roast is unique in its offering: fine dining European items such as roast beef and chicken offered in affordable meals inclusive of drinks and sidings. There were three tiers of prices: Php 99.00 for a rice topping meal complete with ice tea, Php 139.00 for a main course, sidings, and an ice tea, and the Php 169.00 feast that included two main courses, sidings and an ice tea.

For their offerings, Carver's was an amazing value especially when you take into account that the establishment did not even impose a service charge. The only question would be if the quality of the food and service would stack up. Unfortunately, this is where this promising eatery began to unravel.

Their interiors were bright, but surprisingly bare. There was a big mural near the entrance, but once you went into the main dining area, the only fixtures you could find were some plants hanging on the wall. There were no paintings or even mock furnishings and the tables and chairs were equally plain, giving the impression that the establishment was more of a cafeteria than a restaurant.

The first indication of that there were problems with their operation, however, emerged when we we sat down to have wait for our meal. The seats and tables were in disarray and the washing station was physically blocked by several seats and tables. To our dismay, we also found a roach scurrying about on their wall - always a bad sign.

Service took a bit longer than expected, but the reason for this was painfully obvious: the entire establishment seemed to operate solely on one server who also doubled as a buss boy. As a result, service was drudgingly slow despite the fact that the place wasn't even close to half its capacity.

Carver's Roast Beef
Price: Php 139.00 (with siding and ice tea)
Rating: C-

Believing this to be their specialty, I had high hopes for this dish. After all, a good roast beef is succulent, tender, and mouth-wateringly delicious. Unfortunately, their roast beef was none of these. It was somewhat stringy and overcooked. The color was a bit too dark, and it was unusually dry. The gravy helped to hide these features a bit, but once you got past the taste of the gravy, there wasn't much flavor underneath.

The java rice that accompanied the meal wasn't bad, although somewhat average in taste, but the fettuccine noodles with white sauce tasted spoiled. When we approached the server about this, he tasted it and said it was just overcooked and that he would be happy to replace it with something else. As such, I've decided to take it out of this review entirely, focusing instead on the roast beef and java rice combination which garnered a grade of C-.

Spicy Garlic Liempo
Price: Php 139.00 (with siding and ice tea)
Rating: B

This dish actually surprised me. At first glance, the liempo bits seemingly drowned in garlic flakes didn't look very appetizing, but I found that the combination was actually quite tasty. The liempo wasn't very fatty and was actually quite tender and juicy (as opposed to the roast beef.) The garlic seems a bit much, but mixed with the java rice, it made for a very hearty meal. The pasta, like the one served with the roast beef, tasted spoiled and was replaced by the server as well. As such, it is not reflected in the review.

Teriyaki Roast Chicken
Price: Php 139.00 (with siding and ice tea)
Rating: D-

Having picked an item from their carver's roast menu (roast beef) and their spicy roast menu (spicy garlic liempo), we decided to go for one of their saucy roast items: the Teriyaki Roast Chicken.

First of all, I have a certain expectation when the word "Teriyaki" is attached to the name of a dish, and that is that Teriyaki marinade or at least Teriyaki sauce was applied to the it. As can plainly be seen in the photograph, there is no indication that Teriyaki marinade or sauce was applied to the chicken at all.

The taste of the dish confirmed this observation. Instead of the sweet, tangy taste of Teriyaki, an overpowering peppery taste pervaded the chicken. It is my suspicion that this dish was simply the spicy roast chicken that had been served to us by mistake. We asked the server if he had perhaps mistakenly given us the spicy roast chicken instead, but he maintained that the dish was indeed the Teriyaki Chicken.

Not surprisingly, the vegetables were somewhat soggy and tasteless as well, garnering the entire dish a very low score.

Mashed Potatoes
Price: Php 39.00 (as additional siding)
Rating: B

The mashed potatoes were average, but the gravy did a lot to enhance the taste. It wasn't anything special, but as a free side dish or for only Php 39.00 as an additional siding, it's a pretty good value. The serving was heaping (about a large ice cream scoop and a half), so I was actually quite satisfied with this dish.

Pasta With Red Sauce
Price: Php 39.00 (as additional siding)
Rating: F

Although the portion was quite large (as can be seen in the photograph), the taste was unusual to say the least. Instead of using a red marinara sauce, they used some ground beef mixed in with what tasted like lechon sauce. For those unfamiliar with lechon sauce, it has a very sweet liver taste mixed in with peppers and spices. To compound the issue, they added in pig innards as well.

The resulting taste was a conflict of flavors that bordered on the unpalatable. Needless to say, this dish was left half-eaten when we left the establishment.

Price: Php 39.00 (as additional siding)
Rating: D

Brownies are pretty straightforward, right? Rich, chocolate, cake slices that have a pretty ubiquitous taste. Perhaps not a gourmet food, but you can depend on its chocolatey taste and fudge-like texture, right?

Not so with Carver's. They've decided to be a bit more creative with their concoction. Unfortunately, the result is more of a chocolate krinkle rather than a brownie. True, it was soft and crumbly and had a rich, egg-like taste, but, to be honest, that's not what most people are looking for in a brownie. The result felt more like leftovers from a Christmas party rather than an after-dinner treat.


Food: Carver's is an odd mismatch of flavors. Outwardly, it appears to be European cuisine sprinkled with some popular Filipino dishes, but, upon tasting their fare, the Filipino influence often overpowers the rest of the cuisine. In some cases this was successful (like the Spicy Garlic Liempo) but in others, it failed horribly (the lechon sauce pasta was a complete failure.) All in all, it feels like Filipino food forced into a European setting and often the taste combinations do not work all that well.

There were many concerns with their food as well, many of which appeared to be simply reheated after being roasted at the beginning of the day. Although they advertised a wide range of sidings, most of them were unavailable when we ordered. We also felt that some of the dishes were substituted for others that they didn't have in stock at the time.

Ambiance: Aside from cluttered advertising, their frontage was actually quite promising. The warm, yellow light and the robust colors reminded me of hotel delis that served top-notch food. The counters were clean and very neat with food placed in heaters and behind glass.

Unfortunately, once you got into the dining area proper, this image changed dramatically. The chairs and tables were strewn haphazardly and passage to the sink was blocked by rows of tables and chairs. There were some plants hung on the walls, but otherwise, the dining area was pretty bare, resembling the layout of a school cafeteria.

Roaches were visible on the walls, and in one instance, a small roach even landed on my plate and proceeded to march around the java rice. Insects in an indoor dining area is often a result of poor maintenance and leads one to suspect the cleanliness of the food.

Value: Portions are undoubtedly heaping. The pasta, for a siding, could even be a meal on its own. This is not even including the rice (which was a good size as well) and the main course. For Php 139.00, the meal (main dish, rice, sidings, and an ice tea) is hard to beat price-wise, even by some fast food establishments. They even have a Php 99.00 meal that includes a heaping rice bowl and ice tea!

Service: Service was very slow considering the clientèle present at the time we made our order, but this was mostly because they appeared to be understaffed. They were friendly and listened to our complaints, offering dish replacements when we voiced out our concerns without any arguments.

Overall: For a casual dining establishment, the prices are remarkably low. But, at the same time, I feel this forced management to cost-cut in various areas of the operation, reducing the quality of the food and service dramatically. The food isn't exactly what you'd expect, leaning more towards Filipino food than anything else.

True, the portions are heaping and you do get a lot for your hard-earned peso, but the problems in their store maintenance and food preparation overshadow whatever savings you might accrue.

© 2008 Pablo Bairan

1 comment:

keanesee said...

Had dinner once at Carver's Araneta, the place stinks of roaches. Food is so-so for me, nothing special.