Saturday, May 1, 2010

Isabelo Garden Restaurant ♥ ♥ ♥

There is a brownout when we arrive Isabelo. For the benefit of our friends who do not live in the Philippines and have zero clue what it is, brownout is a temporary interruption of power service, and it happens very often in the Philippines. Lights go out, ovens won’t function, fans and air-cons die… The event wreaks havoc not only on electrical appliances, but also on people. Tonight, it wreaks havoc on my grandma.

I say a silent prayer for Frances, the mastermind of tonight’s dinner, that she be safe from grandma’s wrath, and not be disowned after this unfortunate event.

IMG_3513Brownout-induced candlelight dinner with family. So romantic… NOT!!!


Ms. Portia, the young mistress of this homey garden restaurant in Marikina, comes out to greet us and apologize for the power outage. She promises to bring out as many food as fast as possible given the condition, but explains that the dishes that need baking have to come a bit later. 

IMG_3530Italian Paella

When the Italian pasta arrives shortly after, everyone is too hungry to care whether I am able to get a decent shot before they attack my subject, so forgive the blurred photo, it doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness that this dish is. My eating tactic is to always eat less rice so I can eat more dessert, and so with much discipline, I stop myself from coming back for a third serving.


IMG_3533 Portobello Pasta

And then carb overload. The pasta is not as al dente as I would have liked, but the sauce is awesome. The sweetness of the white wine and the tang of the lemon keep me wanting more. I guess someone is skipping dessert tonight.


IMG_3532 Beef Bourguignon

Simmered for hours and hours in red wine and its own broth, beef bourguignon is not an easy dish to make. But Ms. Portia has done it, and she’s done it well. This is a version that will make Julia Child proud.


And then there is light. Woot woot! Now we finally see the dining area, the garden, and all these big and little things hanging on the wall.

IMG_3548Flower paintings, people paintings


IMG_3542Solo portraits, couple portraits, family portraits  


IMG_3549More paintings, pots and pans, kettles and bottles


IMG_3576Mugs, mugs with faces, pans, baking pans, ducks, elephants, cactus and empty perfume bottles… Kenzo, Davidoff, Bulgari, Armani… you name it, they got it!


If dining under the stars is your thing, you can choose to sit at…

IMG_3590 …this rectangular table under a tree in a quiet corner


IMG_3591 …or in this gazebo at the center of the garden


IMG_3593…or at this long table amongst seashells, pans, pails and whatnots


IMG_3557…or you can sit with this bald and lonely daddy-o. Peace, Uncle Rolly! Hihihi!


Now back to the food…

IMG_3551Creamy Artichoke Dip – yummy, but be careful, it’s hot!


IMG_3559 Roasted Pork Crackling, 4-hour pugon roasted pork served with 4 special sauces. No wonder it is so tender. A hit with everyone.


IMG_3563 Greens with roasted vegetables, walnuts & orange


IMG_3569 Quattro Formaggio and Pizza Mia – I’ve had better four cheese, but I love Pizza Mia. After all, who can resist bits of bacon, Italian sausage, garlic and onion on a perfect thin crust?


IMG_3573Mushroom Soup – Everyone takes a sip and then pushes the bowl away. The soup tastes wrong, and there’s not a hint of mushroom. So far, this is the only miss, but it is a BIG miss. Major. Fail.


IMG_3578 Watermelon Sorbet

Frances assures me that she has ordered something chocolate for dessert, but instead the waiter gives me this healthy watermelon sorbet and explains that they are out of chocolate. Bummer! I guess that’s what people get for OD-ing on carbs.


Despite the brownout, the mushroom soup fail and the disappointment of not getting my chocolate fix, dining in Isabelo is an enjoyable experience. The food is good but nothing fancy, the place is laid back, and service is friendly.

Isabelo feels like home.

IMG_3581The Fatterside cousins and Ms. Portia, the pretty lady on my left


Ms. Portia writes in her website, “ISABELO was built on faith and love, and these very things are what my mom and I would like everyone to experience and share every time they dine with us.”

And we feel it, Ms. Portia.

The food in Isabelo is love.


Isabelo Garden Restaurant: Isabelo Street, San Roque, Marikina City, Philippines. Tel: +632-510-6914;  Mobile: +639087401645

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