Art Living Well Lartizan
Johnlu Koa knows a thing or two about bread. The founder of The French Baker now has his very own “boutique boulangerie” in Lartizan, a restaurant cum tea salon cum bread shop. As seen inside his restaurant, his style is luxurious but not ostentatious, and every dish, every piece of bread, and every cup of tea has its very own story to tell.
“All this happened rather unexpectedly,” he says. “But after 25 years of being in this business, I felt the need for a place to celebrate our success. This has become my gift to our most loyal customers and our most beloved guests who have all been with us through the years.”
This is the overlying thought that shaped Lartizan in the upscale lifestyle hub of Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. They say you can’t really judge a book by its cover, but Lartizan dares you to defy this maxim. Its delightful rosé façade sits discreetly among the area’s older establishments. Outside, there are a few small tables quartered off by pleasant flower boxes – perfect for afternoons spent sipping coffee and people watching. And on the wall, old-fashioned awnings and street lamps flank large windows adorned with thick drapes, offering passers-by a glimpse of the restaurant’s charming interiors.
Upon entering Lartizan, one is greeted immediately by brick, white wood, polished silver, and marble– materials that immediately summon feelings of understated luxury and effortless opulence. This feeling continues with the display cases that hold countless treats like cakes, pastries, a variety of specialty breads, spreads, and many others. Bread baskets filled to the brim abound all around the restaurant as well, giving guests a clear picture of what Lartizan is all about.
“We collaborated with Chef Reggie Aspiras to build the restaurant and craft the menu,” Johnlu says. “Chef Reggie and I agreed that this is for the guests and that no expense should be spared in trying to please them. We freely exchanged ideas when we were deciding on the menu, and the first thing we both agreed upon was that the dishes should all be built on the solid foundation of our breads. What we have today is a very well curated menu that features some of my most favorite things.”
The menu starts off with a selection of breakfast dishes, of which we sample the Baked Ham & Organic Eggs. The bright yolks of the rich eggs peek through the ripples and folds of the ham. The dish is topped with chopped morsels of mushrooms, and is served with toast. The effortlessly delicious mix of egg, ham, and mushroom is accentuated by a flourish of French truffle cream upon every bite, releasing an exquisite and unexpected bouquet in your mouth.
Next for sampling on the breakfast menu are the Pancakes. Perfectly stacked fluffy pancakes are presented neatly on the center of the plate, with a rich and deep blueberry syrup dripping on all sides. Real blueberries and a generous dollop of sour cream sit atop the stack, the sour cream providing a welcome savory contrast to the delightfully treacly dish.
We move on to the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Pâté. There are plenty of pretenders to the throne out there but Lartizan has the real deal. Served in a small mason jar, the pâté is full-bodied, rich, and has the exquisite quality of being both solid and creamy at the same time. Melba toasts are served alongside the jar of pâté, together with a caramelized onion spread and a roasted tomato spread.
The Salmon Club is a straightforward sandwich that features honest to goodness flavors. Thick cuts of smoked salmon form three layers of the stack, with toasted pan de mie in between. Hints of dill can be tasted at every bite, but the option to add more is given with the dill cream sauce that is served alongside it.
We were also given a chance to sample one of Lartizan’s pasta dishes in their version of Shrimp Linguini. The dish possesses a fiery orange color, and the aroma of garlic and spices permeate the room upon its entrance. A bite of this releases a hot peppery flavor in your mouth that is balanced by the juices of the shrimps. The dish easily elicits “oohs” and “aahs,” marking its sensory takeover complete and absolute. By all means, ask for some bread to wipe your plate clean.
Lartizan gets a little serious with its entrées as evidenced by their Chicken Vol-Au-Vent with mixed Wild Mushroom Sauce and their Pork Rib Stew. The Vol-Au-Vent has the chicken and the mushroom sauce overflowing out of puff pastry, giving off a vibe that this is one dish that is meant to be savored and enjoyed with abandon. The sauce is creamy, with the pronounced flavor of wild mushrooms permeating through the heavy sauce. The chicken is tender, and the pairing with the sauce is just amazing. The Pork Rib Stew is the heavy hitter between the two, starting with its sauce that is neither totally sweet nor totally savory. Calvados apple brandy was used in creating this sauce, with slices of cooking apples thrown in for good measure. The pork cuts are fork tender, and their porcine flavor melds perfectly with the apple sauce. The dish is served in its own small dutch oven, adding even more country charm to the spread. Both entrées are best enjoyed with slices of toasted baguette.
Lartizan also boasts of being a premier salon de thé, with an arsenal of 36 unique blends from the Mariage Frères collection. Mariage Frères is a renowned French tea company that dates back to 1854 and has built its name upon the honor and respect they put in the French art of tea.
“What I would like people to know is that this place is a celebration of our success, and by our, I mean mine and theirs,” Johnlu says. “We built this place together, me and my loyal customers. I am celebrating them, in fact, by giving them the very best version of the brand we’ve all come to love and cherish over the years.”
Lartizan is our love story; an exposition of our shared pursuit for unassuming romance, easy charm, effortless elegance, and good taste. Visit Lartizan and prepare to fall in love all over again.
Words by Migs Borja-Yambao Photographed by Mike Cuevas Address: Serendra, 26th Street Corner McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City