It was an impulsive decision that brought us to Balay Dako in Tagaytay, just off Silang, Cavite.
Luckily, the highway was not clogged with the buses, big vans and delivery trucks that create traffic chaos every day. The Sta. Rosa exit was also clear, and the road to Nasugbu at Silang junction was easy.
We arrived early enough to get a table.
Balay Dako is exactly that—dako, a big comedor (Spanish term for dining room) that can seat 200 diners at a time.
It is likewise big in its menu that has regular and extraordinary Filipino dishes we grew up with in our old towns.
The taste of most of its food and the quality of its service are A-OK.
Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay; tel. 0925-5841666
This latest of chef Tonyboy Escalante’s ventures attests to his ability to provide the perfect restaurant ambiance, in this case, a rural but old-world elegance.
Dining area—A big dining hall in the tradition of grand heritage houses. Done in green, the hall complements the lush greenery and towering age-old trees outside. Everything here is green—tables, even condiment containers.
While it was a full house, the room acoustics was fine because the diners’ chatter was not bothersome.
The view of Taal Volcano and Lake from the lower level of the dining area was obscured by mist that day, so we failed to see one of nature’s beautiful wonders.
Service—An alert staff directed our car to the second level where we did not have to walk the stairs, then led us to a narrow pathway straight to the dining area.
Staff—A supervisor in neat black skirt and tailored jacket over a white shirt blouse met us. Male staffers were in black while the woman attendants wore black uniforms reminiscent of the creadas (helpers) of a bygone era. They had lacy white nurse caps. They were efficient, too.
Suggested orders—We were not in for a really big meal so we ordered only three main courses, plus a request for broth, which tasted very much of nilagang karne (boiled beef).
The Pancit Antonio was picture-pretty, with slices of hard-boiled eggs and fresh shrimps. It was our early disappointment of the day. It lacked flavor.
The chef, however, redeemed himself with Kalderetang Kambing. The meat was fork-soft, very flavorful with enough sauce for the rice, and the traditional Crispy Fried Tawilis.
Dessert was mini leche flan and, to cap a good meal, bold barako coffee.
Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.