Talisay The Garden Café
44 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) There’s nothing better than coming home to a meal prepared with love; it’s a feeling that’s wholesome enough to wash away the stress of an entire day at work (not to mention the insane traffic). And at Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou’s newest restaurant, Talisay The Garden Café, that lovely feeling is exactly what you get.
“The reference is really our hometown in Cebu,” explains Chef Tatung. The chef wanted to recreate all the happy family memories that he grew up with in Talisay, both in the completely revamped '60s split-level type house along Maginhawa Street that they transformed into the cozy and clean restaurant, and the uncomplicated menu.
“We’re trying to recreate some dishes we grew up with and food we also learned to love during our travels and all that,” adds Chef Tatung. Aptly, Talisay is an effort between him, his brother, Jomi, and Jomi’s wife Hanicel. The menu—and the entire restaurant—brings their love for family and food to the fore, minus all the gimmicks and crazy technical stuff surrounding the food scene now.
One great way to start off your meal, or have an extra filling merienda, is with Chef Tatung’s Lumpia Fresca (P260). The dish is a known specialty of the chef—and for good reason: soft, flavored crepes wrapped around tender ubod comes with a generous siding of thick peanut sauce. The restaurant also makes their own bread, which you can sample with a Bread Basket (P140): a hefty loaf of dense, almost sourdough-like bread is served with special butter, also made in-house with seasonal ingredients.
The Molo Soup (P140) is a light take on the classic, heartwarming Filipino dish. Chewy pork and shrimp dumplings come in a steaming hot, clear and clean chicken broth with shredded chicken and shrimp. It’s a dish that will definitely remind you of home.
For a showstopper on any dining table, the Jamon de Talisay (P580) is just what you need. Following an old family recipe, the jamon is slow-roasted in a brick oven before being glazed in a pineapple sauce for tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
Another meaty offering is the Karne Norte con Patatas (P590), with chunks of prime beef cured for two days and roasted for four hours slathered in thick gravy and completed with potato wedges.
If you think fish would prove to be lighter fare, then the Pescado y Coco (P800) will have you thinking twice. Chef Tatung explains that most of the recipes are his own versions, but for this dish, he stuck with his lola’s classic mix—presumably because it was already the best that it could be. An entire pampano is slowly cooked in a thick sauce of coconut cream, ginger, tomatoes and secret spices, with an added kick of heat from sili; making for an unbeatable taste that is rich but not cloying.
While the pampano may be an homage to Chef Tatung’s grandmother, the Paella Mixta (P790) is all his. Served in a paella dish big enough to serve up to four people—though it might be difficult to stick to your fair share—it’s a flavorful mix of tender seafood and tasty chicken on a bed of rice, with just the right amount of crunch at the bottom.
The Talisay Lemonada (P90) is an excellent pick-me-up to restart your palate after a heavy meal. It’s made with three kinds of citrus and a bit of mint for a refreshing hit.
And for a final note, Chef Tatung has brought back his classic cassava cake—but this time, in cheesecake form. The Cassava Cheesecake (P220/slice, P1,600/whole) is made with a polvoron base, rich creamy cheesecake, soft cassava, and of course, a torched topper for a sweet, caramel taste.
Talisay is all about homecoming, and that warm feeling is celebrated from the restaurant’s interiors down to every dish and drink they offer. Chef Tatung jokingly calls their fare “Pinoy-sosyal” but it’s easy to see that there’s nothing snobbish about it at all. “Everything here is made from scratch; you don’t rush these kinds of things, especially kapag may bisita ka,” explains the chef. And in fast-paced Metro Manila, Talisay is one of those few places where you can come home and take everything slow.
Photos by Vincent Coscolluela