Competition among restaurants today is very strong, it’s a “dog eat dog” situation. Dining places open and close, but there are those that have remained steadfast and versatile. Let us call those that have continued in the business for years, the “durables.” Two of these have steady patronage for the quality of food and service.
ABE—The Street, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City; Tel. 6230899. This belongs to the LGCruz chain, which saw its beginnings in the ’80s in Malate, Manila. Offering Filipino food, mostly from the innovator’s home province of Pampanga, its newest outlet is now drawing foodies who still cherish a plate of cocido or adobo.
Dining area—To walk into Abe is like entering a big comedor (dining area) of an old Spanish vintage house. On the glass door is a likeness of the patriarch, E.A. Cruz, a respected journalist and bon vivant in his time. On one wall are prints of his sketches and on the other side is a collage of photos relevant to Philippine history. Tables and chairs are arranged in a way that conversation in the next table is hardly heard.
Service—Without reservation, guests are welcomed to a table where each is seated immediately.
Staff—Knowledgeable. Unobtrusive but alert to a diner’s needs.
Suggested orders—It is fun going through the menu. Because the father and son originators were journalists, the dishes have such catchy and challenging names such as Knock-out Knuckles, Sinuteng Baby Squids, Coco Loco Alimango, Tidtad, for tinadtad (chopped) meat cooked as dinuguan.
Take any of these, but wanting to eat light, this diner and company opted to have a non-meat and healthy meal, and chose the excellently cooked Squids in garlic and olive oil, the Banana Blossom in Coconut Cream and the Crispy Fried Hito. Delicious! Never miss their best dessert—the Ube Jalaya with Macapuno.
Service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.
BUON GIORNO CAFFE AND BISTRO—Unit 4 Cliffhouse, General Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. Tel. (046) 4832102. This is one restaurant that has, through the years, maintained quality food and service and, thus, has built up a loyal following of diners who often motor to the place, rain or shine, for delectable Italian fare.
Dining area—Done like a tavern, it is quite rugged but homey, with exposed beams and hanging lamps. Paintings on the main wall depict a variety of food stuff as still life. Tables and chairs are of sturdy wood. It can get crowded on weekends.
Suggested orders —Since it’s an Italian place, one can’t go wrong ordering a pizza or a pasta dish , but try the Risotto with Salmon, a mound of Alborio rice, done very well (not soggy nor too dry but moist and creamy). Bits of salmon are mixed generously with the rice plus slices are arranged on top alternately with asparagus tips. Grilled Rib Eye Steak in Garlic is also recommended. Punctuate the meal with Apple Struddle, yummy and can be shared.
Usual service and government taxes are added to the bill. The senior discount is extended.