Cicou @ Celeste


Update July 11, 2012: This restaurant is now closed and moved to BRASSERIE CI COU.

The latest French bistro in town — Cyrille Soenen Restaurant, also known as Cicou Restaurant.

Cyrille Soenen, nicknamed Cicou (pronounced as “see-sue”), decided to open his own French Bistro restaurant after his Executive Chef stint at the Crowne Plaza. He is known for creating the interactive buffet of Seven Corners and his foie gras creations. Most of the food writers and popular chefs in Manila would say that he is the best French chef in town.

The restaurant is located at the ground floor of Hotel Celeste, which is the reincarnation of MARS Disco. I was wondering where the dance floor was, and I’m not sure if it was located where Cicou restaurant now stands.

I like the consistent use of connected circles as the main icon of the interior design. I initially thought it was a fine dining concept, but I’m glad that it’s a bistro after all. A bistro is a neighborhood cafe where people hang out and feel quite at home. This would mean we can bring Aidan and Joshua with us, and we can dress casually too.

The ambiance is not stiff and the waiters give such a warm welcome. They are attentive (although I wish they could give a better explanation of the menu aside from their canned answers). The restaurant is a bit dark at night and its layout is a bit crowded. We were very careful with the glass tabletops, which didn’t seem to have any other stable support. This setup is not ideal for kids — specially a 3-year-old. 🙂

Restaurant Cicou Menu:
Dinner, Cold Appetizers, Hot Appetizers, Soup, Main Course | Desserts
Beverages | Wine, Champagne, White, Semi Dry, Sweet | Rose, and Red Wine

Most of the main entrees start at P600+ per dish. If you can’t distinguish the difference between the Pamora Free Range Chicken and our locally available chicken, then I don’t think it would be worth it for you. Cicou is famous for its foie gras, a duck liver sauteed with confit pomelos, with a price tag of P900+. Our favorite is Cicou’s unique version of sea urchin soup.

The meal starts with unlimited servings of fresh hot bread. There are four kinds to choose from — Olive, Walnut, mini Baguette and Wheat bread. Instead of the usual rice, we paired the Olive bread and Walnut with our entrees. Both of the breads that we love are the soft ones with an accent taste of actual olive or walnut.

Amuse-bouche: Salmon Pate

Amuse-bouche is a French term, which literally means “Mouth Amuser”. It is a bite-sized serving created by the chef to prepare your taste buds for the meal ahead. The pate has a smooth consistency and is rich in taste. We appreciated it better by spreading it over a whole piece of bread.

Sea Urchin Soup (P300+) with Sea Urchin Flan and Prawn Bisque

This is probably the best seafood soup I ever tasted. It’s served warm with a lot of bubbles on the surface. The soup base itself tastes like prawns, and there are bits of sea urchin around the flan in the middle. Each drop of the soup is rich but smooth in a way that we didn’t get tired of its taste. In fact, I was tempted to use the bread to clean up the soup plate. 🙂

We skipped the offer of foie gras since we had already outgrown our fascination with it. We were hoping to try the sardines in the appetizer list, but a voice in my head persuaded me not to by saying, “Sardinas lang yan na mahal (P300).”

Garoupa (P660+). Roasted in the Oven, Coated with Almonds and Fresh Herbs, atop White Beans in Prawn Sauce

We decided to try the Lapu-Lapu (which seems to sound better as Garoupa). If we had known that this dish uses the same prawn bisque soup as the sea urchin soup, we would have just ordered this instead. I liked biting into the fat white beans, which had just the right crunch. (Al-dente cooking comes to mind, but I’m not sure if you can apply that term to beans.) The fish was cooked flawlessly with the right softness, juiciness and taste. The coating of herbs was not necessary, but it did add a different texture to the dish.

Chicken (Pamora Free-Range) (P650+) Roasted Breast Stuffed with Walnut Butter and Leg in Boudin Sausages

I noticed that each piece of the white meat of the Pamora Free-Range Chicken was very tasty. The accent of the truffle sauce was pleasantly surprising. The mushrooms were plump with juices and seemed to be solid. It was a pleasure eating a whole mushroom head because each bite released the sauce in my mouth.

Overall, regardless of the hype that came with the opening of the supposedly “best French Bistro in town”, I would just say I would go to Je Suis Gourmand next time. 🙂 I do recommend that you try it for yourself, though, and let me know what you think about Cicou’s.

Cyrille Soenen “Cicou” Restaurant
Hotel Celeste (former location of MARS Disco)
02 San Lorenzo Drive corner A. Arnaiz Avenue
San Lorenzo Village, Makati City, Philippines 1223
Telephone: +63 889 6728 or +63 889 6733

NOTE: There is NO parking in the area of Hotel Celeste, so I decided to park a couple of buildings away along Pasay Road at this BPI branch. The guard was very accommodating. Valet Parking at Hotel Celeste would cost you P100.


Live An Awesome Life in God’s Grace,


Text by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

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13 thoughts on “Cicou @ Celeste

  1. Anton, I was really surprised and slightly annoyed that when I drove up to the hotel to eat at Cicou, the hotel attendant said there was no paid parking, free parking or any kind of parking, INCLUDING VALET. That I would have to go to Park Square to park my car. Someone explain this to me. Anyway, the food was good but nothing spectacular. I think both La Regalade and Je Suis Gourmand serve a much better fare. Having said that, I still want to try this beef dish on the Cicou menu.

  2. I’ve eaten at Ciçou thrice so far: once a full degustacion, once 5 courses, and, once only 4 courses (not counting assorted pica-picas).
    The best things I’ve eaten there are simple, hearty, but excellent French country dishes of pork head rilletes (much better than that of La Régalade), ouef cocotte and cassoulet – which I all found so comfortingly familiar. The prawn soup with sea urchin flan was just ok, but not very interesting.
    I certainly wouldn’t mind frequenting this restaurant more often if not for the very unfriendly corkage policy – P1000 per bottle. Ridiculous. My friends and I always bring several bottles of wine when dining out and – with their policy – our corkage fee alone could easily be higher than the entire food bill of another table of diners.
    Unless this corkage policy changes, they’ll not see my face there anytime soon (if ever). All my friends feel the same way.
    It’s still Je Suis Gourmand for me for French food.

  3. Its part of the french revival in manila, cicou had a tasty lamb dish and a chocolate creme brulee topped of by a really nice guy who is incidentally its chef-patron. would go back there again.

  4. “We were hoping to try the sardines in the appetizer list, but a voice in my head persuaded me not to by saying, “Sardinas lang yan na mahal (P300).”
    -The sardines are nothing like sardinas from the can. They are excellent! They are fresh little fish filleted and cooked in it’s own marinade.. hard to describe but like a lovely french version of kinilaw. Served with bread/salad. Very very tasty. Definitely one of my favorite’s from the menu. I would recommend trying it, and I don’t think anything like it can be found anywhere else. I’ve tried a lot of items on the menu as well and have yet to find disappointment in anything. Deserts are excellent too.. have a special fondness for the cream pots (caramel, chocolate and mocha in little pots)
    -Ciçou now HAS PARKING. First come, first served out front.. and valet if none available.
    – I think corkage policy should be respected. Shoot me for this if you like, but I think that having the chef’s wine suggestions are part of the experience. I imagine that the chef would go thru great extents to select the right wine for the menu.. and not throw darts at at suppliers list. Therefore, it should be respected and enjoyed as well.
    A lot of people can pick a great bottle on their own, but that doesn’t mean they are entitled to bring it anywhere they want. That’s life. This sort of behavior would be frowned upon and even be embarrassing in Europe.. oh well, only in the Philippines I guess.

  5. my one and only vist to je suis gourmand was not at all a good one, the lamb was boring, the potatoes obviously reheated, the vegetables tired. the foie gras was alright, the soup was memorable, but i never went back.
    Cicou has a fantastic menu, and executed well, beware that cassoulet though, it DOES say chicken so don’t be surprised when you get those teensy bird legs instead of confit of duck legs that cassoulet usually comes with.
    beef tartare, excellent, the pork head pate, magnifique, chocolate orange sorbet, you will not forget.

  6. My toss between La Regalade and this was decided upon which was closer to where I was standing. I didn’t have high expectations but I was still disappointed as I am particular with “fishy” fish (but surprisingly, the king crab meat was not…I wonder why). The sardines and the sea bass tasted like that so everything just went down the drain for me. Out of the 6 dishes served, the only thing that stood out to me was the egg dish. I finished it off including egg yolk (w/c I don’t usually eat)! The champagne was also nice – worth ordering one even if it’s hefty priced. I am a bit iffy with the bread – it’s delicious but it’s the type of bread that when gets cold, it will get to as hard as a rubber.

  7. Hi!
    Maybe you’d be interested to try and dine at Peppermill’s Lanai Private Dining. For reservations only, Check facebook page : Peppermill Caterers

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