Date # 71: Isabelo Garden Restaurant
There’s something romantic about meeting in a secret garden at the heart of a bustling city. It’s like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s always worth the trip.
Douglas and I originally intended to go to Isabelo Garden Restaurant after our midterms, but unfortunately, all the missed classes due to the insane rain these past few days sent our schedule in turmoil. But that’s alright, since our dinner at Isabelo was a good break from all the schoolwork.
Dining in Isabelo is strictly by reservation only, and most of the food has to be pre-ordered because cooking them take hours.
Douglas, being the 2000th liker of their Facebook Page, got us a free bacon pizza from Ms. Portia! Thank you again! J
The landscape design is actually surreal. Dining in Isabelo means being surrounded by lush foliage, an array of kitschy but carefully chosen furniture, warm and romantic lighting, and tasteful music.
We were first served a bowl of Corn Chowder, which was served nicely warm. The soup is filled with bits of corn kernels, potatoes, and other vegetables.
Douglas and I have a strange fascination for Portobello mushrooms, probably because of their size. When we saw Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (P525) on the menu, we knew we had to get it. Each mushroom is stuffed to the brim with ground pork, and every mouthful oozes with a vibrant, earthy, mushroom flavor. Couple this with the light, creamy, white sauce, and we have a winner.
And then comes the Honey Bacon Pizza (P410). What I loved most about this is the crust, which was thin, but crispy and chewy at the same time. The topping is extremely meaty due to the generous bits of bacon, but the taste is made more complex by the cilantro sprinkled on top. Add a few drops of chili oil, and it’s perfect. The serving is good for two persons.
It was actually hard for us to decide on an entrée, but we ended up getting an order of 4-hr Pugon Baked Osso Bucco (P750). The fact that this was baked for four hours speaks a lot about how tender it is. It also had a generous amount of bone marrow and tendon, the most special part of osso bucco.
It was generally good, but something tells me it shouldn’t have been paired with rice (maybe pairing this with a lightly flavored risotto would be better?).
For dessert, we decided on a slice of Mango Float (P110), which was essentially a cake made from layers of crushed graham crackers, mangoes, cream, and then topped with rich chocolate syrup. The ingredients were balanced out well, although I think they froze it in a temperature that was too low, since some parts were icy.
After a few minutes of deciding, we told ourselves that we couldn’t leave without trying out Ms. Portia’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip (P350), so we asked the waiter if we could have an additional order of it, and he agreed. Ms. Portia proudly calls this “the dish that started everything.” That’s because she used to sell this to her friends and relatives, until they convinced her to start her own restaurant.
This has far more cheese than greens, which was actually good for us since we’re still little kids who don’t eat veggies. One of the things I want to achieve in my life is to be able to guess what kind of cheese is present in a dish, and although I can’t do that yet, my amateur guess is that this one used boursin cheese, a sour, herby kind of soft cheese.
What made me fall in love with this dish is the soft contrast between the garlicky, and chewy toasted focaccia and the sour, gooey cheese. This is my kind of comfort food.
Overall Verdict: Our date at Isabelo Garden Restaurant is probably one of the best dates we’ve had so far. Isabelo has the perfect formula for an excellent romantic dinner: an intimate private environment, an attentive staff, a wonderful ambiance, and of course, food cooked with much love.
Isabelo Garden Restaurant
Isabelo Mendoza St., San Roque, Marikina City
Isabelo has a strict No Reservation, No Entry Policy. Don’t forget to reserve at:
With and For Love,
Rina Caparras and Douglas Chong
For Comments / Questions / Suggestions:
CamDoug Trivia: Douglas prefers sweet flavors, while I prefer sour. :P This usually becomes a problem for us when we’re deciding what to get in a restaurant. :))