The rising number of food blogs and the wide variety of cuisines available in the Philippines are essential in helping people satisfy their gastronomic inclinations. Dining is now more of an experience than a mere activity, going beyond the taste buds to include people’s social and emotional well-being. Eating out is a chance to enjoy conversation and priceless moments while having delicious dishes. It is a time to unwind, to remember the many things enjoyable in life and to experience culinary adventures.
This 2012, we hope you have well-rounded fun and that you will (at least once in a while) treat yourself to a nice meal with friends or family. Here are three places you might want to try in the year ahead:
1. Antonio’s (Tagaytay City, Tagaytay)
Located deep in the heart of Tagaytay, Antonio’s is one of the most popular dining places in the city. Aside from the excellent food and service, the ambience sets the place apart. Antonio’s comprises a three-level main house, a front lawn and a beautiful garden that provides a picture-perfect setting. In fact, plenty of wedding parties and receptions have been held there. Food-wise, the restaurant is noted for its salad with foie gras, steak and sea bass dishes, and souffle desserts.
While a bit pricey (around P2,000 per head), Antonio’s is definitely worth it. What further adds to the dining experience is Tagaytay’s cool climate, the restaurant’s beautiful furnishings and a staff whose impeccable service will surely put a smile on your face.
Address: Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Contact number: (0917) 899-2866 (Johna Goma, Restaurant Manager)
2. Ugu’s Pottery Garden Restaurant (Tiaong, Quezon)
One of Tiaong’s best-kept secrets, Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden Restaurant is not advertised at all in its Quezon province home. There are no signs, road markers or other traces of this hidden gem anywhere in its vicinity.
Ugu Bigyan is a ceramics artist who has been producing wonderful dinnerware sets and decorative tiles for many years. He occasionally holds pottery-making and cooking lessons as well.
What his restaurant offers, besides good food, are a picturesque garden and a charmingly rustic ambience. This is the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful natural setting. At Ugu’s restaurant, the 100 percent Filipino meals have a home-cooked vibe that provides a counterpoint to the artful food serving and presentation. Some of the best-known dishes are Kulawo or charcoal-grilled banana heart and Lato (seaweed in vinegar).
Ugu’s Pottery Garden Restaurant is undeniably worth the trek to Quezon.
Address: 490 Alvarez Village , Brgy Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon
Contact numbers: (042) 545-9144, (0917) 560-5708
3. La Cocina de Tita Moning (Manila City, Manila)
Located in an old art deco house near Malacañang Palace, La Cocina de Tita Moning came about when Chef Suzette Montinola decided to follow the recipes of her grandmother, Dona Ramona “Tita Moning” Hernandez-Legarda. This personal enterprise slowly garnered much public approval, heralding its current success. Chef Suzette says that the restaurant is, in a way, a chance for her Tita to live on in memory and continue making people happy (and full!).
At La Cocina de Tita Moning, a tour of the home precedes the dining experience. Guests are shown different rooms and educated on the family history. The mansion was built in 1937 and has been preserved since then to complete the Old Manila experience. Upon the tour’s conclusion, guests partake of the restaurant’s gastronomic goodness. La Cocina boasts of especially great-tasting paella and other fine examples of Spanish cuisine, with bread pudding as the highlight of the dessert selection. La Cocina de Tita Moning is an undeniable treat for those in search of something more than an average night out.
Address: 315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel District, Manila
Contact numbers: (02) 7342146, (02) 7342141, (0917) 538-3490, (0917) 531-5203
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Sweet Bella (Taguig City, Manila)
Named after Isabella, the daughter of owner Tintin Santiago-Rivera (herself the daughter of Melo Santiago of Melo’s Steakhouse), Sweet Bella is a chic dessert café that takes its inspiration from the near-ubiquitous patisseries that Paris is known for. Bright colors are contrasted against the white walls in this two-story restaurant.
Among the popular desserts, the Chocolata is a definite must-try. This cake is made up of intense moist chocolate that is cut with layers of rich ganache, encircled by chocolate glass, and topped with strawberries and cholate curls. It was proclaimed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer to be among the country’s best desserts in 2007. Most desserts in this place come with the Sweet Bella signature of a chocolate butterfly that is quite delicious on its own.
Aside from desserts, Sweet Bella offers all-day breakfast items, soup, salad, pasta, brick-oven pizza, sandwiches and USDA Prime grade beef salpicao. Bread products, ham and bacon are made in-house.
Address: Burgos Circle, Forbes Town Center, Bonifacio Global City, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Manila
Contact numbers: (02) 844-0680, (02) 392-7571, (0928) 502-5027
Email address: email@example.com
5. P.F. Chang’s (Muntinlupa City, Manila)
The recently opened P.F. Chang’s in Alabang is actually the world-renowned restaurant’s 217th branch, but only the first in Asia. It specializes in Chinese food, serving a host of delicious dishes made with only fresh ingredients and no garnishes or artificial flavors. In fact, all dishes are prepared and cooked only when ordered.
The taste is identical to that of the other branches in the US and in other countries. There are no efforts to produce fancy fusion dishes; instead, the focus is on innovative meals that stay true to their origins while adding a slight twist (or two).
The 11-foot stone horse at the entrance (one of P.F. Chang’s signature decorations) serves notice that this is not one of the run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants. The interior boasts a handpainted mural that accentuates the oriental theme. Service is impeccable, as the management sent 30 of its best trainers from around the world to instruct and guide the local staff.
Address: Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City, Manila
Contact number: (0927) 533-3445
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the busy schedule you’re bound to have, it pays to unwind and allow a restaurant to take away your stress – even just for a night. We hope that sometime within the year, you will not hesitate to treat yourself to an enjoyable dining experience.