QC Eats: Novotel launches a themed buffet on Sundays

The Food Exchange at Novotel Manila Araneta City. Jeeves of Veyra

CUBAO, Quezon City — The Food Exchange Manila at the Novotel Manila Araneta City kicks off its Sunday cultural buffet with the Italian-themed Ode to Nonna.

Novotel had to close all of its F&B outlets during the shutdowns, but successfully reinvented itself with its Take Me Out delivery brand. Now that restrictions are easing, the Cultural Plates buffet is what Novotel catering director Matt Salcedo calls the final phase of the reopening of the hotel’s various bars and restaurants.

Executive chef Massimiliano Pauletto treats guests to buono appetito.  Jeeves of Veyra
Executive chef Massimiliano Pauletto treats guests to buono appetito. Jeeves of Veyra

For the former, the restaurant offers traditional dishes that Esterina, the 97-year-old grandmother of Novotel executive chef Massimiliano Pauletto, used to cook when he was growing up in Italy.

Although there are the usual pizzas and pastas at the buffet, we encourage the hunt for special rustic Milanese dishes that are rarely seen elsewhere.

For example, Chef Massi’s Bollito Misto may look like the Italian version of nilagang baka. But calling it that won’t do it justice. The kitchen prepares three different broths of beef tongue, shank and brisket that simmer on the buffet counter.

Try the Bollito Misto station.  Jeeves of Veyra
Try the Bollito Misto station. Jeeves of Veyra

Make sure you have a bowl and get some of that rich broth. While already bursting with flavor, topping it with a dollop of salsa rosso or salsa verde transforms this seemingly simple soup dish into a unique Mediterranean delicacy.

Also discover the other stations. Have carpaccio with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and burrata as a starter.

Appetizers include carpaccio.  Jeeves of Veyra
Appetizers include carpaccio. Jeeves of Veyra

The pasta station offers soft, buttery gnocchi topped with tomato sauce.

Gnocchi at the pasta station.  Jeeves of Veyra
Gnocchi at the pasta station. Jeeves of Veyra

Another must-try is the Green Pea Risotto with Crab made much creamier and richer because it’s prepared inside a giant cheese wheel.

Crab risotto.  Jeeves of Veyra
Crab risotto. Jeeves of Veyra

On the pans, Polpa a La Luciana, very tender octopus with broccoli, peppers and tomatoes braised in red wine.

Polpa in La Luciana.  Jeeves of Veyra
Polpa in La Luciana. Jeeves of Veyra

Don’t miss the Food Exchange’s own version of the Cheese Room. You can stroll around and compose your own plate of cheeses and charcuterie to accompany the other dishes on the buffet.

Food Exchange's new cheese room.  Jeeves of Veyra
Food Exchange’s new cheese room. Jeeves of Veyra

For dessert, sample some of Novotel’s famous ice cream paired with Italian classics like Torta Caprese, Strawberry Crostata and Bombolinis.

A few desserts at the buffet.  Jeeves of Veyra
A few desserts at the buffet. Jeeves of Veyra

Besides Ode to Nonna, there are three other rotating cultural plate-themed Sunday buffets. Fisherman’s Catch showcases responsibly sourced seafood like mussels, oysters, clams and shrimp that can be freshly grilled or baked with fresh sauces; K(kalye) – POP! with a variety of street food staples from Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta and Hanoi; and Mumbai Express for a mix of classic Indian cuisine and modern Indian dishes, including roast leg of lamb and seafood curry.

Each Cultural Plates Buffet will primarily feature dishes and live cooking stations that adhere to the theme, although a taste of the other themes can be found at The Food Exchange’s permanent stations.

The Sunday buffet of cultural plates at the Food Exchange is priced at P2,488 net per person.

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