Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Van Gogh is Bipolar (Maginhawa Street)

Beloved and I had dinner at Van Gogh is Bipolar a couple of nights ago. This, for the lack of better word, strange restaurant is located on Maginhawa Street. The last bit of the previous statement would foreshadow this review. At first, I thought it felt very formal since we had to make a reservation beforehand and the price tag was among the steeper ones we've tried. However, since Beloved has been to this place before, she told me that it wasn't, so, at least, we didn't have to wear something formal, especially since we had to remove our shoes beforehand.

To start off with the strangeness, the dinner was entitled Cuckoo Gastronomique Nights. As for the place itself, there were no signage or anything aside from the "open" sign outside the door. In fact, it resembles more of a unit at an apartment complex on the outside. We were the first guests there, I guess since it was pretty early, and we were greeted by the owner and host of the place, Jethro. After removing our shoes, entering the place itself continues the strangeness of this story. It was more of a home than a restaurant. The ambiance felt homely despite having plenty of eccentric decorations: mismatching furniture from antique to modern, movie posters, mostly nude photography, a collection of strange hats (which guests are encouraged to wear) and aprons (which I wouldn't recommend wearing, but it's up to you), scientific instruments, rugs and drapes, a ceiling lamp made with a parasol, globes, clocks, a corner littered with vandalism made by the visitors, a huge collection of teapots, and other things you would expect (or not expect) from someone who travels and collects stuff around the globe. The soft lighting and choice of music added to the homeliness of the place.

We (I, since Beloved already knew about it) were (was) asked to read the house rules by the door. Apparently, there were no servers, and self-busing is required. What surprised me more is that the place can and will only accommodate twelve people at a time. We were asked where we wanted to stay—either at one of the three small candlelit tables for two at the living room or one big one at the dining room. We chose one at the living room which I later found out to be a converted sewing machine. Then, we were allowed to make ourselves tea using one of the many teapots and your choice of tea leaves depending on your mood. Might I add that they weren't your usual tea leaves—he offered dried leaves from plants you would find outside one's home, such as guava, mango, or guyabano. Now, to order, we were asked to choose between four to eight courses varying in prices. We chose the four-course offering, which Jethro explains really is more of a five-course offering, priced at 777 Php with a choice between either a "Happy" fish-based meal or a "Chill" meat dish as our personalized main course. We had to write it down on paper, ring the bell, wait for the kitchen window to open and give the paper.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sancho's (Maginhawa Street)

Beloved and I had dinner at Sancho's last night. This Spanish restaurant, according to Beloved, is related to Dulcinea. Although we only had breakfast there, I had a chance to peek at the menu and I was expecting above average prices here. Nevertheless, we were prepared to pay whatever the cost, so we decided to eat here at one of the few places we've yet been to at Maginhawa Street.

Surprisingly, their menu was priced accordingly to cater the main demographic of the area: students. I was expecting their dishes to be above the 200 Php line, but most of them were below that. Since I'm not really much of a Spanish food person, I took a long time choosing what to order. However, I already know what Beloved wanted. Since she is on a mission to try out all the ox tongue dishes from all the restaurants in the Metro, she ordered their Lengua Estofada (185 Php). As for me, since the only Spanish dish I really like was paella, and since it also happened to be in the menu, I ordered their Paella Valenciana (250 Php for the smaller one, good for one to two people). I was warned that it will take 20 minutes to cook, but I didn't mind. Finally, we asked for their Garlic Mushrooms (130 Php) as our hors d'ouvre.