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Cendrillon

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We went to Cendrillon a few weeks ago for dinner, and
since I have never seen a posting about it on
chowhound, I thought I would post this. (Forgive me if
I go on a bit too long about the meal, but it was
really excellent.) For those of you who don't know,
Cendrillon is a Philippino restaurant on Mercer St in
Soho, sort of modernized and with strong overtones of
other Southeast Asian and European cuisines. There
were five of us, one of whom was my cousin from Paris,
and we wanted to expose him to some food that he would
not be likely to get at home.

We started with their version of laing, a philippino
greens dish, which here has taro greens cooked in
spiced cocounut milk, which they top with a brandade
fish cake. The greens were excellent, and it
complemented the brandade nicely. Brandade is a
Provencal puree of salt cod, potatoes and garlic, and
it passed muster with the Parisian -- nicely seasoned,
but not overwhelmingly garlicky. Also excellent was a
soft shelled crab fried in a cashew nut crust with a
light cilantro sauce. The crab was very big, but still
quite sweet, and expertly fried. It also made a big
hit with my cousin -- they don't eat soft shelled crabs
in France, so it was a new experience for him. I
thought that it was one of the best soft shells I have
ever had. My wife said that while really good, she
still prefers the one they do at New Pasteur, the
Vietnamese place on Baxter. The other appetizers were
a grilled pizza with onion, gorgonzola, and tocino (a
sweet philippino bacon) which was an excellent combo,
and binbingka with cheese and mushrooms. Bibinka is
sort of like a cross between a muffin and a pancake,
made out of rice flour, eggs, and cocounut milk. The
texxture is of a very soft, fine and slightly sweet
cornbread. I actually didn't care for the one at
Cendrillon, and prefer the traditional one (try
Krystal's bakery on Roosevelt Ave.). It was a big hit
with everyone else at the table, though.

For main dishes, the best were: a grilled red snapper
(very fresh and nicely cooked -- not a bit overcooked),
with a light Malay-style yellow curry sauce; goat,
cooked with long green beens in cocunut milk with lots
of spices, esp. cardamom, and served with a mango
tomatillo chutney and scallion pancakes, which were
sort of like dough-y tortillas made from rice flour,
and very good as sopping up the delicious and fragrant
sauce; and perhaps best of all, a roast squab with
roast figs, with an adobo (soy, vinegar, bay leaf, lots
of black pepper) sauce and served with a mash of
plantains and root veggies. The adobo married
perfectly with the rich taste of the squab and the
sweetness of the figs. The other main dishes were very
good as well -- dry-rubbed grilled spareribs, meaty and
tasty, almost like the grilled ribs you get on some
Caribbean islands; and a classic chicken adobo, which
was one of the best renditions that I have ever had of
this dish.

We have been to Cendrillon several times over the past
few years, and while the food has always been at least
very good, this time it was really excellent, far and
away the best we have ever had there. It is a very
pleasant place, and they have a good selection of beers
as well.

One odd thing about the restaurant is that while the
sides that they do serve are very good, they don't
serve rice as a matter of course, and most of the
Asians who eat there seem to order it,a nd I would
suggest it to anyone who eats there -- it is good to
have with many of the saucier dishes. It reminds me of
what a Filipina friend (raised here) once told me.
After dating many western guys, her mother told her
that now that she had sampled the other stuff, it was
time to eat some rice. She is married to a very nice
Filipino. They love Cendrillon, and , needless to say,
order rice when they go.

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  1. we've been to cendrillon, loved it, loved chatting
    with the chef/owner, have recommended it to friends
    several times, and they, too, have had wonderful
    experiences there. they seem to be really hitting
    their stride!