8065 Bagnet

If you’re like me and have already graduated and joined the workforce for X number of years, there would be times you miss your old school hangouts. You miss your favorite silog meals, those cheap tusok-tusok snacks, and even the noisy, crowded areas where you used to eat lunch! 

During those years, you never think about eating what’s healthy. It’s all about finding yummy food you can afford with your allowance!

All the good collegiate memories came flooding back when Francis and I tried 8065 Bagnet. It’s nowhere near our university in Manila, since this tiny restaurant is tucked away in Makati, but the artsy, messy ambiance and the amazing food at friendly prices is very reminiscent of college years.

ImageThis Bagnet Kare-Kare is a home-run for only P195 good for two. It’s sooo good – those crunchy bagnet pieces bathed in gravy sauce, then topped with bagoong! It’s one of those dishes you happily devour with lots and lots of rice!

8065 Bagnet also offers Bagnet Sisig, Bagnet Dinuguan, Bagnet Curry, and Bagnet Binagoongan. Homina homina homina!

ImageFor the health conscious, you can opt for the Steamed Fish in Curry Sauce. Nowhere near as deadly as their bagnet, but also quite good!

I love that their dishes are so ma-sauce! Never mind that you run out of ulam quickly (not that they scrimp on their dishes, mind you), all you have to do is pour the remaining sauce all over your rice and every spoonful you get is a delight.

ImageTwo happy campers with one scoop of rice each. He he he! After the meal, not one morsel of rice remains! It was admittedly very bitin, but sadly, we cannot eat like innocent students anymore.

 

8065 Bagnet is located at 8065 Estrella Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City.

Telephone: 519-6511

 

 

 

Grace Park

If the success of Margarita Fores’ restaurants Cibo and Lusso is any indication, she really is a genius in the kitchen.

Her fame with food has made a lot of people eagerly anticipate the opening of hew newest baby Grace Park, and foodies have since then given mixed reviews.

Will this be another yay or nay?

I can’t really say yet, because maybe we just ordered the wrong dishes. Or maybe we were expecting too much. But whatever our feelings are for the food, the same cannot be said of our thoughts on the concept and decor.

Grace Park is a proudly organic, “farm-to-table” restaurant. It supports the produce of local farmers, which is very admirable. And since we’re talking about farms, the decor kind of emulates that kind of vibe. It’s rustic and somewhat quaint, with mismatched tablewear.

Unfortunately, my BB has lost whatever pictures I took of Grace Park, so there’s nothing to show. But trust me – you’d want to see the place for yourself.

What I do have, however, are pictures of the food. So let’s talk about that.

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For starters we ordered the Mushroom Field with Asiago. This is my favorite dish in Grace Park and I think it’s simply because the mushrooms were deep fried. It’s lightly salted. Wish they had paired the dish with a sauce with more kick, though.

ImageI was really looking forward to falling in love with this Fettuccine, Truffle Cream, Organic Egg Pasta, but was sadly disappointed. You simply cannot force yourself to fall in love. You just can’t. Though the truffle cream sauce was prominent, Francis complained that he felt a weird aftertaste which he just can’t shake off.

ImageWeird aftertastes continued with this 3-Cheese Meatball Pasta.

Francis and I looked enviously towards the other table, which ordered the restaurant’s fish of the day. I talked to my good friend Kitty, who said that she loved Grace Park and that their fish really is yummy.

Drats.

Grace Park is located at One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Poblacion, Makati.

Cellphone: 0917-5138945

 

 

da.u.de Tea Lounge

It’s always a thrill to dine someplace pretty, since there’s an excuse for you to dress up, put on make-up, and wear your favorite shoes and accessories. But it’s not just that. Because the venue is too enticing, you find yourself staying longer, enjoying your surroundings, prolonging the conversation, and hopefully savoring the food as well.

When it comes to pretty places, da.u.de Tea Lounge is arguably that and more. It exudes youth, playfulness, and a touch of whimsy. I loved the interiors so much that we just had to take a picture with it as background as soon as the food arrived! He he he!Image

The place is fairly small, but it was utilized with the use of super bright lights and clever spacing, as the tea leaves and merchandise are displayed on the walls.

ImageThere’s a counter in the middle where you can see the staff prepare one-of-a-kind tea mixes.

So the place is cute, yaddy yaddy yadda. How about the food? The teas?

da.u.de Tea Lounge boasts of “traditional wellness for modern lifestyles.” They have around 70 tea variations, all selected and approved by the country’s very first Certified Tea Master (we have that??), Renee Sebastian.

Everything, from the food to the pastries – is infused with tea.

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We ordered the Dallah Tea, which is oolong with lavender. Pretty safe order, but it’s one of the tea selections we were allowed to choose from in the High Tea Set coupon I bought from Deal Grocer. He he he!

Their presentation is just too cute! We have the same contraption at home and I love, love, love pressing the top and see the tea go down the cup. (Mababaw na kaligayahan)

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This special High Tea Set has madeleines, scones, skala marmalade, lemon curd, and cottage cheese in the first tier, Roasted Vegetable Tartines and Crisp Pork Banh Mi Crostinis on the second tier, and apfelstrudel, tea brûlée, vanilla ice cream, and two macarons on the third tier.

We had this set for dinner, and you must be wondering why. First off, we tried to make it there before 6 p.m. But traffic was just killer. We got there after 6, and it was a good thing da.u.de management was understanding enough to still accept the coupon.

Anyway, everything from the set was just okay, except for the Crisp Pork Banh Mi Crostinis. Those pieces of crispy tea-infused pork with tea sriracha and vegetable slaw were particularly yummy and surprisingly filling!

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Because it was already dinner time, we ordered something extra: da.u.de Pho. Rice noodles with herbs and ROAST PORK!!

There were only a couple of pieces of roast pork and it was so bitin. The pho itself I didn’t really love, so if the roast pork came in a sandwich or was served with rice, I’d relish it with gusto!

The first time we tried this place, it was really packed. But the second time around, there weren’t that many customers.

I think it’s a hit-or-miss place for most. I wish my taste buds were more attuned to appreciating the delicate and unique tea flavors.

We ordered some drinks for take-out during our second visit, since it came highly recommended by the waiters. One sip and I made a face. Tastes just like Chinese medicine! On the other hand, Francis found his drink too sweet.

Despite reactions like that, you can’t argue that eating at da.u.de is a healthier alternative than most restaurants. Maybe tea-infused food just requires an acquired taste?

da.u.de Tea Lounge is located at G/F Net Lima Building, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

Telephone: 478-3579

They are closed on Sundays.

 

Balkan Express

What is your comfort food?

For me, it has always been soup or french fries. Sometimes when I’m having a really bad day, I seek fast food (McDo Cheeseburger meal always manages to cheer me up!) For Francis, it’s spaghetti, and I guess just about anything with ketchup!

But when it’s raining super hard and bed weather beckons, I can think of only one dish that spells comfort food to a T: Balkan ExpressGoulash.

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The picture doesn’t even give this beef stew any justice. It’s made with beef so soft it melts in your mouth, as well as onions and noodles, then sprinkled with paprika. I can even imagine eating this with rice. First I’d remove all the pasta pieces, drown the rice in the stew, and then get more beef!

If all Eastern European dishes were like this, I’d develop a new favorite cuisine! Balkan Express, which proudly serves Eastern European fare and owned by Serbian Marko Betricevik, is quite a surprise. Here are some of its other dishes:

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Salad with Feta Cheese. It’s really hard to love a salad, but this one’s not: it is fresh and light, I wouldn’t mind ordering it again.

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The Chicken Batak is grilled boneless chicken with mozzarella cheese inside. It’s the cheeeeeese which makes this dish a winner!

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I don’t know how to pronounce this – Stuffed Pljeskavica – which is simply grilled Serbian meat served with french fries. The meat was too thick and heavy for my liking. It wasn’t wise to order this with the Chicken Batak. The dishes were sadly redundant, in my opinion. Wish we had gotten the Cevapcici instead. Maybe next time!

Balkan Express is a casual dining place which you wouldn’t mind being stranded in when it’s pouring cats and dogs. It’s more relaxed than cozy, and the interiors simple. If by chance you do get stuck within the area, be sure to try their Goulash! It will cheer you right up.

Balkan Express is located at 87 J. Abad Santos, corner Mons Street, Little Baguio, San Juan City.

Telephone: 330-0945

Eat My GF

Eat MY GF. For all the naughty minds out there, let’s clear things up: GF stands for Garlic Fries and not Girl Friend.

I know, I know. I was admittedly one of those naughty minds who also thought, “How crude!” before realizing it was all about the french fries, the best dish in the world! But I guess the sexual innuendo is part of the owner’s gimmick to attract customers.

I first saw its stall in Alabang Town Center while in a haste to get to the movies (Les Miz night!) I remember looking at the garlic fries longingly and thinking sadly to myself that I might never get to try it out, since I only visit ATC once every couple of years.

Imagine my delight when I found out that they actually have a branch in Little Baguio, San Juan! AND that they have rice meals and burgers too! Hurrah!!

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Stay loyal, men! Eat My GF tells it like it is.

The restaurant gives off such a macho vibe that it’s clearly a hang-out place for the boys. The second floor even has a wide-screen tv with several DVDs to choose from. There’s board games like UNO and Taboo.

If I were a guy, that is the kind of place I would hang out with my homies. Bring on the booze and fries!

ImageTheir bestseller is All the Way, a combination of garlic fries and virgin potato chips with generous toppings of sausages and bacon.

The virgin chips are to die for! So thin and crunchy, you will find yourself eating piece after piece after piece in no time!

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Another delight is their Jalapeno Poppers! Breaded jalapeno pieces with a surprise of cream cheese inside! This comes in four or six pieces, but it’s just so good you wish it comes in dozens!

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The Big Ohh burger is so gigantic, especially with toppings of egg, cheese, and BACON! It also comes with a side of garlic fries and virgin chips, so we feel that ordering All the Way was a bit too much. By the time this dish came, the garlic flavor was already becoming a bit overwhelming!

ImageIt was a good thing they have Homemade GF Chili, which balanced the flavors a bit.

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The Big Boy Breakfast is part of their All-Day Breakfast selection. The dishes we ordered were a bit redundant because there’s sausage and bacon again. Only this time, they served it with gravy and butter garlic fries.

Loved the gravy, especially on those sausages! I dipped the fries and virgin chips on the gravy too and they were delicious!

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While eating, a word of caution to the ladies: Pick a channel the two of you would love, otherwise you will find yourself completely ignored! You could say that the President just walked in and he wouldn’t even give you as much as a nod.

Eat My GF is located at 403 F. Calderon Street, Little Baguio, San Juan

Cellphone number: 0917-8195875

Mad for Garlic

While people were going crazy over a certain pancake franchise in Taguig, I was more excited to try out its neighboring restaurant, Mad for Garlic.

We were surprised to discover that it was actually a Korean restaurant, since the ambiance looked very European. The first floor looks very sophisticated, with several wine bottles partitioning the dining area. There’s strings of garlic decorated with every lamp, while the front door has a garlic design as well.

What made me so excited to try it out is a certain dish called the Dracula Killer.Image

The name is just so clever! And props to Mad for Garlic for the unique presentation too. This appetizer has bread with butter and garlic, which you top with garlic cloves with olive oil and melted cheese.

One look at the dish and Dracula is sure to change into a bat and fly far, far away!

As much as I wanted to love the dish, it didn’t blow me away.

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I actually liked this Creamy Chicken Popcorn Pasta more, which is sweet and served with crunchy chicken bits!

ImageFinally, the Old Ham and Sausage Pizza was the least liked of all three dishes. A bit bland. Nothing spectacular. Give me Shakey’s Thin-Crust Pizza any time of the day!

I wish we had just ordered more pasta dishes and skipped the pizza, based on the flavor of the Creamy Chicken Popcorn Pasta.

We also appreciated the service in this restaurant. We felt right at home.

Mad for Garlic is located at W Global Center, 30th Street corner 9th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

Telephone: 808-9517

 

Burger Bar

When Francis told me we’d be eating at Burger Bar, the word that latched on to me was “bar.” I immediately associated it with Beauty Bar and thought of cosmetics and skin care. 

Smashbox! K-Palette! Model Co.! Bloom! He he he!

But after dinner at Burger Bar, you betcha there was nothing else in my head (and tummy!) but think, plump, juicy burgers. Nom nom nom!

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We had Fried Pickles for starters. But it was a disappointment – too much batter and the pickles didn’t taste like anything! If you want better appetizers, order the Onion Rings. Now those were good! Fried to perfection and seasoned well.

ImageThese were the Fried Pickles we had in Hooter’s Singapore, which is waaay better than Burger Bar’s. The pickles were just the right amount of sweet and salty.

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I ordered The Hangover Burger with a side of fries, for the main reason that it comes with fried egg, and of course cheese.

The menu says the Hangover Burger is an “onion-griddled patty big game blend of hanger and brisket, yellow cheddar, crisp prosciutto, fried egg, arugula, caramelized onions, BBQ sauce and house aioli all on a sesame seed bun.”

The Big Game Patty melts in your mouth. Add to that those fancy toppings, and you know that burger you’re wolfing down is leagues away in comparison to fast food burgers (although I still love me some fast food burgers!)

On the other hand, the fries were just okay.

ImageFrancis opted for The Bleu. Between our two orders, I think I ordered the more macho burger. He he he!

This one is “onion-griddled patty steak cut blend of sirloin and chuck, blue cheese sauce, fried crispy leeks, blue cheese crumble, caramelized onions, lollo rossa greens, all on a brioche bun.”

A friend of Francis’ also tried The Bleu but found the taste too funky for his liking, so this cheese overload burger might not be for everyone.

What’s cool about Burger Bar is that you can even create your own burger, aside from their already awesome concoctions. You can choose your own bun (sesame seed, brioche or kaiser), patty (Beef Bomb, Steak Cut, Big Game, House Blend), and toppings – aged gruyere, feta, gorgonzola, smoked scarmorza, pickles, onions… You name it, they have it!

If you’re feeling really, really hungry, you can even go for double patties.

And they have so much more than burgers – pastas, sandwiches, and rice meals. If these are anything as good as their burgers, then it’s worth a try.

Burger Bar is located at the G/F, Greenbelt 2, Esperanza Street corner Greenbelt Drive, Ayala Center, Makati.

Telephone: 625-2792