Sunday, December 5, 2010

Isabelo Garden Restaurant

Tucked away in one of Marikina's dark alleys is a secret garden called Isabelo. Inspired by the gardens of rustic Italy, this once ancestral home has become a food lovers haven.  A brain child of a former advertising executive now turned cook, Chef Portia Baluyut, finalist of Lifestyle Network's Clash of the Toque-en Ones, and her artist mother.
photo credit: Isabelo Garden's web page.

photo credit: Isabelo Garden's web page.
We dined inside the art studio where old family pictures and Chef Portia's mom's art works are displayed.

Spanish Artichoke Dip
The dip that started it all.......

Mixed Fry Fish
Fried bits and pieces of squid, fish and shrimp. Good but what really makes this special are the fried lemons.  Those lemons were seriously good that Chef Portia needs to bottle them up and sell them, she'd be an instant millionaire.

Baked Oyster
At first glance you'd think it is raw oysters because when we think of baked oysters, we think oysters buried in cheese.  If you are squeamish about eating raw oysters then this is a good way to try out "raw" oysters without it being raw.

Stuffed Portabello
A well recommended dish.

Creamy Italian Paella
Love this dish.  Expect this dish to be more like a risotto rather than a paella.  A bit on the heavy side so order with caution.

Beef Bourguignon, served with ciabatta slices
Sampling this beef dish, you would know why Chef Portia is known for her slow-cooked food.  This dish took 4 loving hours to make. The beef, though cooked for a long time, retained it's texture yet it still melts in your mouth. The wine and tomato based sauce was on the sweet side and perfect with the ciabatta.

Orange Herb Chicken, small
Served with roasted squash, baby potatoes and carrots.  The sauce was really flavorful but not citrusy.

 pugon-roasted pork crackling served with 4 sauces: apple, mango, marinara and vinegar
This baby was cooked in a pugon for 6 hours!  The meat is flavorful enough that you really do not need any of the 4 sauces that comes with it, though they do enhance the flavor in their own individual way.  The down-side, for me, on this dish was the skin was not crispy. 

Quattro Formaggio
Proudly hand-made by the Chef.  Instead of baking, this pizza was grilled to perfection. The crust was crunchy yet retained a soft  and chewy center. And the cheeses....well, let's face it, who doesn't love cheese?... Especially those of really good quality.

melon and watermelon sorbet
To make these sorbets really come alive, squeeze in a little lemon.  A very good ending to a heavy meal.

fruit trifle

Another highly recommended dish but a bit heavy especially if you ordered more food than one can possibly finish. But with everything on the menu looking so yummy, one cannot help himself but order and order and order!

Isabelo is a reservations only restaurant. Because a lot of items in the menu are cooked for hours and hours and to ensure the freshest of ingredients, Chef Portia does require advance ordering.  The desserts though can be ordered then and there.

To reserve:

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