I think our timing was great: dinner. All the lights are on, all you can hear is the faint sound of classical music and bottles clinking.
Philip, the ever-diligent receptionist cum waiter, led us to our sweet little corner. The walls are adorned by old family photos (c/o the legendary J.P. Rizal Studio, and yes, still operating!), empty perfume bottles, cute vintage items, porcelain, figurines, and of course, beautiful paintings of Portia's Mom.
After a few minutes, the lovely chef and hostess Portia welcomed us and gave us a brief background on how the restaurant started. She was originally working in the (money-abundant) field of advertising, but like we all know, when your heart isn't there, you will always go to where it belongs. In Portia's case, it is cooking and setting up her own restaurant. Great move dear. :)
I know you have all been waiting for this, so this is what we ordered:
For the appetizer, we ordered the dish that according to Portia, "started it all": the SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP (350 PhP). She began baking this goodie and selling it to family and friends in microwaveable containers. That night we had our share of this tasty dish. Served bubbling and hot with toasted Ciabatta bread, Portia's Spinach and Artichoke dip is a creamy, cheesy, and truly stomach-opening winner.
We ordered Lemon Parslied Garlic Rice (210 PhP, good for 5 persons) for the upcoming entrées...
...first of which are the STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS (525 PhP). It has a delicious sauce that complements the stuffing and the taste of the mushroom. We loved it! (You can read more about Portobello Mushrooms here.)
And here comes the Star of the Night: the ROAST PORK CRACKLING (1250 PhP). I believe Portia pours in so much love in cooking this one. It is pork cooked via pugon for six (6) hours! The meat is so tender and juicy, the fat sticky and the skin crunchy and then melts in your mouth. Haaay! It is served with four (4) signature special sauces: Red Wine Vinegar, Apple Sauce, Mango Chutney, and Marinara. All were hits for me and Sweetie.
The order doesn't end there of course. Disclaimer: We did NOT finish everything, we had more than enough to take home to our families. We just wanted to try a bit of all the bestsellers (hihi, palusot).
And then the QUATTRO FORMAGGI PIZZA (450 PhP) comes in. Thin, cripsy crust, loaded with four types of cheese. We really love how the flavor of the Blue Cheese really stood out. We almost finished the whole pizza! Served with Chili Oil, this pizza is one of the best quattro formaggi I have ever tasted.
You can also add "peperoncino" (chili + olive oil) to your dishes:
We took more gulps of the iced tea we ordered to get ready for dessert (yes, there is always room for dessert). To "cap off" our meal as Portia says, we had Yoghurt Sorbet with Fresh Fruits and Walnut Streusel (200 PhP), and Mango Float (110 PhP)! Mango was the fruit of the night, oh yeah!
The yoghurt sorbet was soooo good it did not last for more than five minutes.
The Mango Float had this really creamy ice cream base, a little like refrigerator cake because of the presence of Graham crumbs. It was topped with chocolate syrup. So yummy!
Our dining experience in Isabelo will always be one of the most memorable. The place is great, the food is excellent, the service impeccable, and the chef / hostess has been very accomodating.
We will definitely dine again SOON in Isabelo. :)
ISABELO GARDEN RESTAURANT
Isabelo Mendoza Street, San Roque, Marikina City
RESERVATION is a must via http://www.isabelogarden.com/
Munching Budget per person: starts at 500 PhP
My map of Isabelo made with love (Click on the image to enlarge):
Marikina, aking hirang.