I THINK it is safe to conclude that if you are Pinoy, in spite of the occasional craving for an eggs benedict or foie gras or pad thai, your ultimate craving at the end of the day will still be for Pinoy food, a taste of lechon, adobo, sinigang.
It’s probably the food equivalent of this astute observation: Kahit anong English-English mo, pag Pinoy ka at nadapa, sisigaw ka pa rin ng ‘aray’ (No matter your facility with the English language, if you are Filipino and you trip, you’ll still shout ‘aray’). Claudine Barretto’s experience notwithstanding (see http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhVGCb4_bOg).
In the Tomas Morato area, this craving has been satisfied by restaurants such as Bagoong Club and Romulo’s, restaurants that have presented their own take on Filipino comfort cuisine. This line-up will now be joined by a converted ancestral home right beside the Pinoy Big Brother mansion: Patio Carlito and its adjacent/adjoining White House on 84th.
The structure from which the restaurant operates was the home of the late Carlos B. Magdaluyo. In a newspaper clipping copied on the menu, he is described as an “acknowledged master of the casino.” I guess the point of including this accolade is to forever etch him in the public’s memory as a man both dashing and debonair. Memories are also revived using black and white pictures of yesteryear, plastered on the restaurant’s various walls – a joy to observe while waiting for your appetizers.
The house is huge, and parts have been converted into function rooms: a “TV Room” that can accommodate 25 people; a “Bar Room” for 20; a “Piano Room” that accommodates another 25, although sadly, the piano doesn’t actually work (pity!).
The main restaurant is Patio Carlito; the adjoining area that converts into a party place/bar at night is called The White House. Indeed, it may be blaring loud in the evenings if you are seated near the White House area. On the other hand, the Patio Carlito section literally has a patio where you can enjoy a cool evening breeze as well as a sala if you want a more relaxed atmosphere so you can wind down with friends after a long day.
The Magdaluyos, according to a phone interview with the manager of the restaurant, hail from Pampanga. This explains the mostly Pampango menu, with buro (fermented rice), while playing a cameo, making many an appearance. The owners, grandchildren of Casino Master Carlos Magdaluyo, also own Red Crab and Flying Pig. The Flying Pig connection is evident in the many beautifully executed pork items on the menu.
You must experience the Cuchifrito, like a deep fried cochinillo. This is an absolute pork lover’s delight: juicy meat, very crunchy skin with soft layers of fat underneath. Or, if you want to fool yourself, as the Dieting Dad tried to do during one of our tastings, you can order the Adobong Kangkong. Truly healthy… or not, because of the bits of cuchifrito atop it.
A Pampango twist on the cuchifrito is the Burong Baboy with Burong Kanin. It’s just like liempo but you can enjoy this wrapped in a mustasa leaf with a layer of buro. While I am in love with buro, this is not as enjoyable as the cuchifrito. Probably because it is not as sinful. A Pampango recipe that is worth returning to this restaurant for, however, is their Binarutak, a Pampango sinigang na hipon. The broth of the soup here is extremely flavorful and will definitely calm your stomach and prepare it for the pigging out that awaits.
The restaurant also has odd pairings, such as the Chicken Gallantina which they serve with a couple of pieces of ensaymada. The manager explained that there is a tradition of using the gallantina as a “palaman” for the ensaymada. Whatever the justification, at this juncture, it doesn’t work. The Patio Carlito paella, meanwhile, contains both seafood and chicken. This is not the best paella in Quezon City, Alba’s being just down the road and Barcino not being too far away, but at the price you pay and the speed at which it is served, this is quite acceptable, especially if you are easy to please.
The Crispy Tapa, which the restaurant claims is its bestseller, is also not too memorable. But the Frozen Brazo that caps your meal is something everyone remembers. And then there is that item on the drink list that you will want to forget but can’t by sheer virtue of its name. It is at the bottom of the drink list but there is no way that I will spell it out here; you will have to check out their cocktail menu to find out for yourself.
On Sundays, they have Buffet Sunday. This gimmick offers a “fiesta buffet” for only P499 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This should be quite a feast.
The place is frequented by ABS-CBN news bigwigs and staff. After all, it’s right across the office. But I’m sure that as word gets around, this restaurant will soon enough be called home not just by the Magdaluyos but by lovers of Pinoy cooking from everywhere. •
Patio Carlito/White House on 84th. No. 84 Scout Tuazon St. cor. E. Lopez Sr. Avenue, Bgy. South Triangle, Quezon City. Tel. 352-7140. No reservations required. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Mastercard, Visa accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Function rooms available.