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Friday, October 4, 2013

Dinner Dates - Casa Marcos & Guevarra's

It was just one of those weeks when it seemed all of your waking hours were on nothing but work so that an invitation (or two in fact) from the significant other to just forgo a home-cooked meal and do a bit of stretching (of the vehicle mileage), that I picked up my bag and went off for something of a breather from the hot stove and fingers nicked several times by a newly-purchased Japanese steel cook's knife (we're still getting to know each other).

Casa Marcos
Unit 20a/20b Ortigas Home Depot
J. Vargas Street, Pasig City
+63 2 4703637

This is an old standby, and has resurrected for several years now from their original place in Gilmore Avenue.  It used to be that Casa Marcos was where movie deals get made, what with the LVN Pictures (or was it Sampaguita?) compound just a few meters away, and then later on, with "Mother Lily" of Regal Films until she had her own McDonalds franchise, so that of course, the venue of wheeling and dealing had to be settled at a less (ahem) classy spot.

But while Casa Marcos' interiors have a renewed vigor, the menu remained thankfully the same.  They bake their own mini pan de sal then and now, and in addition, serve regular-sized ones filled with chicken, corned beef or sardines. 

My husband and I still enjoyed the same Gambas for appetizer, a shared Caesar Salad to make room for their specialties which are the creamy and delicate Lengua Sevillana and the silky Callos ala Madrilena. Request that your bread basket be refilled to truly enjoy the flavors.

Like its branch in the Fort Global City, the one in Ortigas makes you enjoy the old standards in an intimate but neighborly setting.

387 P. Guevara St.
San Juan, Metro Manila
+63 2 7051811

Much has been talked about this newest restaurant of famed Chef Rolando Laudico and his wife Chef Jackie, and the fact that my husband noticed that the place is always full every night he goes home from work got both of us curious.

On the weekend we decided to try it out, we were waitlisted but we braved it through the downpour thinking that there might still be a chance to get a table.  Guevarra's is a converted 1940s or '50s house located in a still decidedly residential part of San Juan.  As we turned into its open gate and driveway up to the house, there was an appreciable oohs and aahs among us.  The restaurant maintained the general integrity of the structure and was really handsome and inviting with all the lights glowing a mellow yellow within and without.  There was ample parking space, and had just been filled up a few seconds after we arrived.

The wait was 30 minutes before we could get a table, and this was only out of luck since a group cancelled their reservation.  

What Guevarra's is, is a casual venue that offers lunch and dinner buffet (Php599 for adults and Php499 for children plus VAT) featuring various Filipino flavors and regional cuisines, with a few international dishes like the US Roast Beef Belly that shared equal billing with other roasts like lechon manok and lechon baboy,  and Fish Fillet with mango chutney, a decidedly Indian dish.
The highlights of the spread were the Fresh Ubod Lumpia (young coconut spring rolls), the Party Pasta which is essentially Spaghetti with Aligue (or Crabfat) sauce, the Chicken Pastel and the Paella Negra.  The dessert buffet had various rice cakes, chocolate fondue, chocolate mousse and soft-serve ice cream.
It was a good place to bring family and friends, and apparently quite attractive enough to hold birthday and other celebrations there.  At the time we were dining, there were two different birthday celebrations going on.
The food was really good, what one would expect from Chef Lau, made more appetizing brought about by the charming ambiance of the house, and the courteous, but not intrusive, attention of the waitstaff.  But do reserve your table a week ahead to avoid the hassle of waiting.

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