New Restaurant Alert: Eighteen Bistro at Tomas Morato, Quezon City
It's not just about elevated comfort food. They have P18 cocktails, too!
51B Scout Rallos Street, Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Saturday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) Abysmal traffic and unending deadlines seem orchestrated to give you headaches, but there’s one place dedicated to helping you escape the grind. Eighteen Bistro is a small restaurant tucked away on Tomas Morato, and amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, it beckons: Come, take a load off.
“People can walk in, eat, and have a couple of drinks,” says Marj Mendoza, owner of Eighteen Bistro, which opened in February 2015. “It’s a place where you can talk with your friends and not get bothered by loud music. We want to make people feel relaxed.”
It’s hard not to find comfort in a place that reflects a happy home. Eighteen Bistro gets its name from the house number of Mendoza’s family, and it’s practically an extension of their house. “Our menu consists of food we’d cook during birthdays and Christmas reunions,” she shares.
Classy comfort food haven
The ambiance and menu are inspired by the hole-in-the-wall eateries her late father took her to on weekends and by the restaurants she and her family visited while traveling in Europe and Bali. The result: elevated comfort food that’s hard to find elsewhere.
“Our menu is continental; it isn’t a fusion of anything,” explains Mendoza. “How people prep their food in [different countries], that’s how we do it here. We respect how they prepare their ingredients.”
A classically French dish is the Beef Bourguignon (P320). Don’t let the swanky name intimidate you. This dish consists of three to four sizable beef short ribs, served with potato terrine, which is a baked potato sliced into small discs. The beef is slow-braised in red wine for four hours, leaving the meat juicy and tender, and served with a light tomato sauce. If you’re a fan of Osso Buco, then you’ll love these ribs, since they taste alike due to the similarity in their preparation. The potato terrine, meanwhile, is covered in a mix of cream, garlic, and parsley, giving it a subtle cheesy flavor.
Eighteen Bistro's meticulous dedication when preparing their dishes shows in the effortless finish of their dishes. It takes nine to 10 hours to make the Roasted Pork Belly (P320), three of which just for roasting the pork. The end result is a plate with two cuts of pork belly (slightly bigger than three decks of cards stacked on top of one another) that just melt in your mouth. The skin on top is crisp and the meat is tender. It tastes like lechon but with a mild sweetness thanks to the sweet wine used to cook the meat. The onion slices also give the dish some extra crunch. The pork cuts are placed on the same potatoes as the beef, but you should really get a side of rice with this, too!
Roasted Pork Belly
Spicy Portobello & Cream Cheese Pasta
The Spicy Portobello & Cream Cheese Pasta (P285) may look like your typical cream-based pasta, but it packs extra punch. As you bite into it (perfectly al dente, by the way), you’ll first enjoy the light, creamy goodness of the sauce, but then you’ll raise your eyebrows as a hint of spice subtly creeps down the back of your throat. That’s thanks to the cayenne pepper in it, teasing your taste buds without setting them on fire. Can’t get enough of the sauce? Order this off-menu item: plain toasted bread with Portobello Cream Cheese Dip (P240).
Warm Chocolate Cake
Eighteen Bistro backs their savory fare with a stellar dessert menu. The Warm Chocolate Cake (P190) is a chocoholic’s dream. This moist chocolate cake is lathered in chocolate frosting and has butterscotch melted into the center, giving the cake a caramel kick. The wafer bits sprinkled on the plate give it some added texture and crunch. Despite the supposed choco-overload, this cake isn’t overpoweringly sweet to the point where you’d need a glass of water with every bite. It’s comfort food at its finest. One slice isn’t enough? Order a whole 9-inch chocolate cake with dulce de leche filling (P980) a week in advance and indulge at home (not by yourself, hopefully).
The Snowspresso (P240) is another interesting item not on the menu that you’ll definitely want to try. It comes with a shot of espresso next to a martini glass with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it and topped with a cloud of white cotton candy. Your goal: pour the espresso onto the cotton candy so it lands on the ice cream. Get it right and you’ve got a ménage à trios of rich coffee, creamy vanilla, and cotton candy sweetness for a one-of-a-kind dessert.
If you're taking a break between meals, enjoy your timeout with the Hugo (P240). Crafted by Mendoza’s fiancé JP Magpayo, who is the brains behind their bar, this Italian drink consists of white wine, soda, mint, citrus, and Elderflower syrup for a sweet cocktail with just the right hint of alcohol. Order a pitcher; talk all night.
Is there a term for an upscale hole-in-the-wall?
With tasty dishes and P18 cocktails daily from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Eighteen Bistro is definitely an ideal place to unwind. And by the time you step out of their establishment, Mendoza hopes you have one sentiment: “Babalik ako.”
Photos by Majoy Siason