The luxury hotels and resorts - Waterfront, Marriot, Shangri-La - all have excellent restaurants serving international and continental cuisine, as they well should. I won't dwell on these except to say that Cafe Uno, in the Lahug Waterfront, is a buffet restaurant which is fairly reasonably priced (500 pesos will get you in) and holds a differently themed fair every month.

European culture is by nature terribly pretentious, and the most pompous of all continental restaurants in Cebu is perhaps the Tinderbox, next to Crossroads. This is where the creme de la creme of Cebuano society gathers to eat lamb chops, scrutinize wine labels, and smoke Cuban cigars. Every now and then a bigwig will host a function, and the illegally parked German sport sedans will cause a jam on Arch Reyes snaring up traffic for miles in both directions.
The Tinderbox also has a delicatessen counter crammed with heaps of cheeses, hams and sausages. Check it out.

The Tinderbox was the first restaurant to create some competition for Europa Delicatessen. Now Europa is no more, but Tinderbox itself is getting some competition from Darras + Bowler, a couple of miles further down the road.

Chateau de Busay is a French restaurant, superbly located on a hill in Barangay Busay [pronounced BOO-SIGH]. The view of the city and the island of Mactan is terrific. The food used to be excellent but the restaurant has clearly suffered from the drop in arrivals caused by 9/11, SARS, and the Iraq war. With your patronage, perhaps this place can be great again.

Lucy's, also French despite the name, landed at The Village in 2003. This is actually the only pure-play French restaurant in the city. If you ever get overcome by that craving for escargot, this is the place to go. (For some reason, their snails are flown from France, even though we have plenty of snails in Cebu.) For a more reasonably priced and more relaxed place to enjoy superb continental cooking, head to the Alibi, in the Garwood Park Hotel. On a slow night you may be entertained by the TV, usually tuned to a basketball game, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the food is either pretty good or excellent.

Cebu is just starting to discover the concept of fusion. Olio, a classy restaurant which opened in 2004, is the latest addition. The decor is modern and stylish, and the bill will easily run to four digits to prove it. Tsai, meanwhile, opened in 2002. Tsai, also located at Crossroads, boasts perhaps the most elegantly designed interior of any restaurant in Cebu. The menu is a fusion of cuisines from the Pacific rim. For example, Japanese noodles are irrevently mixed with a chunk of North American salmon - and it works. Tsai, as you've probably guessed from the name, is also serious about its teas. In fact, Tsai is the only gourmet tearoom in Cebu, with as many teas as on the menu as dishes. I admit I'm a fan and would go so far as to say that Tsai single-handedly raised the stature of Cebu as a city one whole notch. The one complaint I do have is that they're - absurdly for a tearoom - closed during tea time, but I'm sure this flaw will be remedied eventually.

East West is the only other establishment that emphasizes teas. Rather than the original outlet in The Village, head to the elegantly designed minimalist East West in the Ayala Entertainment Center for stylish meals and creative crepes.

Also located in the Ayala Entertainment Center, in a prominent position right next to the main entrance, is Hap Japs, which fuses Japanese cuisine well. On weekend nights Hap Japs helps fuel the party spirit by pumping bass lines in all directions, and their snack-sized meals (topped rice or little sushi rolls) are just the thing to keep you going until the wee hours of the morning.


CHATEAU DE BUSAY 231-2000 Busay
OLIO 232-3589 Crossroads, Banilad
DARRAS + BOWLER Banilad Road

These pages in the Cebu Visitors Guide provide but a general overview of the wining and dining scene. For detailed reviews of individual establishments, see the Resto Quest.

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