Isabelo Garden Restaurant
11 Isabelo Mendoza St.
San Roque, Marikina City
Tel. 510-6914 / 0908-740-1645
Open Mondays to Sundays, 6 p.m. onwards
Here, you go home rubbing your belly. Click for more.
(SPOT.ph) Organized clutter-a convenient description for Isabelo Garden Restaurant. No dainty teacups or buttered scones on cake tiers here. Instead, there is a bouquet of empty McCormick jars, a chandelier of stained wine bottles, and a collection of ceramic snails. A mosaic path snakes through little pockets of eating space adorned with more kitschy curios.
There is something about this organized chaos that makes it inviting. One room (the only room) is wallpapered with framed paintings of roses (lilac to red, bud to bloom) and faded photographs. The shelves are lined with old perfume bottles (Bennetton, Davidoff, Estee Lauder, to name a few). The chairs are mismatched-steel stools, wooden benches, rattan seats-and so are the plates and utensils.
This rustic space is a reminder of humble beginnings. With barely any money, owner Portia Baluyut had to make do with what she had-a yard, the willingness to learn, and a warehouse full of odds and ends that her mother couldn't part with. "I wanted to see what I could do with nothing-and to make that work," said the self-taught cook. Relying solely on word-of-mouth and loyal customers, Baluyut tried to make her little Marikina paradise as covert as possible. However, four years and an Ondoy later, the secret was out of the bag-thanks in large part to semi-unintended marketing from bloggers and other grateful patrons who have stumbled upon her abode.
As her clientele grew, so did Baluyut’s culinary exploits. Her first creation, Spinach Artichoke Dip (P350) holds a firm place in the menu which now includes pizzas, pastas, entrees, and desserts. Her tangy Lemon Shrimp Linguine (P380) will have perennial dieters craving for more while her Quattro Formaggio pizza (P450) can stir anyone's taste-buds to a rich, gooey frenzy. The Spicy Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Coleslaw (P390) may be an unexpected deviation from the mostly rustic Italian fare, but the full fiery flavor comes as no surprise. Finally, take your palate full circle with Baluyut's zesty Key Lime Pie (P175/P700), a creamy ice-cream-like confection encased in a sturdy graham crust.
Weight-watchers and potential customers on a specialized diet may request for specific dishes and recipes.
Isabelo Garden Restaurant is open for reservations only. Special culinary requests have to be made at least three days before reservation. Photos of food courtesy of Portia Baluyut and Isabelogarden.com; interiors by Jason Mariposa.