A couple of acquaintances. A couple of new friendships.

8 06 2011

Mike, Thea's hubby, snapped this shot of me. The restaurant's signage is right behind me, above my head.

I MAKE a decent number of acquaintances.  Most often than not, I’d know exactly which ones to pursue and nurture, and which ones to totally forget the very moment goodbyes are exchanged.

Late last week I got introduced to arguably the best baked cheesecake ever.  Last night, I finally set foot in the restaurant where it came from.  If it were a relationship, I’d call it a whirlwind romance.  A number of times – from the starters to the entrées – I had to tell myself, “Be still my beating heart.”

View from the top. The classy, homey, elegant interiors of Restaurant UNO.

Restaurant UNO at 195-C Tomas Morato warps time and space.  I flung the massive wooden front door open and I suddenly felt transported to my childhood, back when dinner strictly meant everybody being at the table and not starting when someone was not yet seated.  The stark interiors – dimmed lighting, wooden floor, wrought iron treatment on the banister, the louvers, and the matching wooden chairs with “solihiya” seats – enveloped me with a sense of home I thought I had lost.  It was like a tight warm embrace, a promise of comfort laid out even before any of the food had made it to the table.

Mike & Thea

Playing hosts to this dinner was the very lovely couple Mike & Thea, themselves my mere acquaintances a few weeks back.  And just like being let in into someone’s abode, they wanted us to feast on a well-thought out, really scrumptious spread that would position this discovery of a new dining place for prospects of something more committed and long-term.  I could tell they had used to frequent Restaurant UNO – now in existence for a formidable 16 years – as they peppered our conversations with allusions to favorite dishes and how the menu had evolved and expanded.  Their knowing glances and whispered snippets of past dates made me completely twitterpatted (“kilig”), a reaction I tried to hide with some quick bites and little hearty chuckles.

Another solo, also taken by Mike. Sharing space with me are Nixon and Philip Stein.

 

We started with complimentary bread, on which we slathered chunks of cold butter.  The bread – they served two kinds and I think they go by some fancy names – had really soft, chewy centers ensconced within really crusty exteriors.  A couple of baskets didn’t last long but the attentive wait staff was quick to replenish while we waited for the soups and starter.

Place setting was stylish and elegant.

 

Complimentary bread

While diamonds go by the standard of the 4Cs, I found a parallel to the soup I started the meal with, itself a 4C – Cauliflower and Chayote Soup with Cheese and Cilantro.  It was a tender puree of sweetish chayote, touched lightly with just enough cream.  Near the surface swam crisp cauliflower around which twirled ribbons of (parmesan or mozzarella) cheese.  It was a soup with an attitude, initially unassuming in its delicate creaminess in the mouth, but surprising in the bursts of fresh coriander leaves, pungent with citrusy overtones.  I knew I wouldn’t get enough of it, even with the generous portion, so I phased my spoonfuls, never wanting the pleasure to end.

Cauliflower and Chayote Soup with Cheese and Cilantro

 

All together now – the bread and my soup with the Carrot Soup.

I’ve always veered away from asking for beef carpaccio, something about the images of “raw” and “meat” it conjures up.  But the Seared Beef Carpaccio with Kalamata Olive Dressing made me change my mind.  And for a split second tricked me into thinking that what I was having was tuna.  The meat tasted fresh and almost quite delicate.  For someone who half-expected the dish to be a bit gamey, I managed to surprise myself when I had to declare that the last thin slice ought to be mine.

Seared Beef Carpaccio with Kalamata Olive Dressing

My entrée, Spaghetti with Clams and Spicy Sausage in Red Sauce, was quite a departure from how I prefer my pasta – uncomplicated, without meat or seafood, and kept to at most five ingredients (the root aromatic garlic and the oil included in the count!).  But Restaurant UNO’s “surf and turf” sauce made me reconsider my minimalist approach.  Fresh manila clams on the half-shell, oozing with their juices, tumbled in a mélange that included chunks of sausage, green peas, tomatoes, garlic and onion, before getting tossed with al dente spaghetti.  The result was a pasta dish that was bold yet earthy with undertones of curry-like spice.

Spaghetti with Clams and Spicy Sausage in Red Sauce

Just like a sumptuous meal at home, the night wouldn’t be complete without dessert and coffee (which they brewed fresh on the machine right behind our table on the second floor).  We asked for both the Cheesecake and the Fallen Chocolate Cake.  I did start off partial to the baked cheesecake as it was exactly what piqued my curiosity about Restaurant UNO.  It was as I remembered it from the week before – dense without being heavy, fluffy without being airy, literally melting in the mouth with a creamy goodness that wasn’t cloying at all.  It was as I remembered it, except that at the restaurant, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar added an elegant touch.

Cheesecake

 

Fallen Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake, a flourless rendition I may add, was a move to the dark side – deep dark chocolate, moist, and just as the cheesecake was, not too sweet.  Sips of my freshly brewed coffee rounded up the delightful experience.

It was such a fulfilling meal that I almost lost all sense of propriety, having to fight the urge to slump on my chair and scratch my pleased tummy.  Though I did slip when, seemingly unsatiated with just letting out and getting away with subtle moans, I had to declare that I probably have had multiple orgasms going through the evening’s meal.

I almost expected to be scolded for such a comment.  But my dinner company – the lovely couple, Iron Man, and my dear K-anne – just laughed it off.

Great dinner company! Mike, Thea, K-anne, and Iron Man.

 

Really missed this girl!

 

Iron Man took this photo of me at the staircase landing. The place felt like home!

 

The restaurant's restroom was minimalist, so clean, and well-appointed. I just couldn't get a nice enough photo!

 

It's dinner time!

 

The restaurant's facade.

 

The restaurant's signage.

Before long, I had to bid my new acquaintance, Restaurant UNO, a fond farewell.  And just like dining at some great friend’s place, I left with pasalubong – two whole cheesecakes and a slice to spare.

Avocado & Mango Raita Salad

 

So lovin' the Lolo Rosa on which the salad was spooned.

 

Chili Hot Wings with Tamarind Barbecue Sauce. Mike said that the sauce is the kind that "grows on you". I agree. Loved it!

 

There were enough of the wings to pass around.

 

Mike and Mike & Thea had the day's special, Slow-Cooked US Beef Belly with Barbecue Spice Rub and Barbecue Sauce.

 

Thea's Mike had the Barbecued Brined Pork Prime Rib Chop with Paprika and Cumin

 

My Fresh Calamansi Juice over ice

 

I was having mojito dreams that I had to ask for crushed fresh mint leaves to add to my drink!

 

Mojito dreams!

 

The day's special on one of a couple of menu boards!

 

The simple yet extensive menu

 

Now, that's the way to say "No Service Charge"! Seriously, they stated their point tastefully.

 

Restaurant UNO is at 195-C Tomas Morato corner Scout Fuentabella, Quezon City.

 

The dessert menu

I know exactly that this is one discovery I would pursue and nurture.  I know we will soon have to be back and become better friends.

(Thanks Mike and Thea for such a lovely meal!)

Thanks Mike & Thea for a lovely, unforgettable dinner!

 

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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