Tales & Feelings
2/F M. Diaz Building, F. Ramos Street corner V. Ranudo Street, Cebu City
Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
(SPOT.ph) Among the crop of newer, more upscale restaurants in Cebu, one stands out as the forerunner. So much so that it doesn’t even feel like it counts as "new" anymore thanks to the impact it’s made on the dining scene. Meet Tales & Feelings, the restaurant that, even though it doesn’t serve Cebuano food, perfectly captures the Cebuano palate.
Opened in April 2021, Tales & Feelings was in some ways, a happy accident—if anyone can look at anything post-pandemic so rosily. After lockdown made sure to bar guests from attending the wedding of co-owners Julian and Kim Prosevicius, the couple pivoted and used the money to open a restaurant instead as Julian also has had past experience working front-of-house for Michelin-starred restaurants. They partnered with Kim’s brother, chef Elso Third Almodiel, who also happened to come home after having worked internationally.
The space itself is quaint and cozy, and can probably fit no more than 25. A plush banquette lines the window and an assortment of paintings in different art styles adorn the only free wall. Depending on where you’re seated, you might even get a glimpse inside the tiny kitchen. Prosevicius decorated the place with the intention of it feeling like a homey respite along a busy street. Be warned: parking can get tricky because of said busy street.
Here's what makes Tales & Feelings one of the best restaurants in Cebu City
It’s weird to note that infused water isn’t as common in Cebu as it is in Manila, so much so that we actually noticed the orange slices in the pitcher. If we’re being completely honest, this extra-refreshing water earned them brownie points.
The meal opened with a green wine, Julian called it, a Bouchard Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuisse 2018 (P1,000/glass, P5,980/bottle). It was very wet and easy to drink. Although we couldn’t detect too many notes on our own, the acidity of the wine made our mouths water, making it the perfect appetizer.
The wines, by the way, are corked and served using a Coravin. The device uses a needle to decant the wine and instantly replaces the air from a pressurized gas tank. That way the wine won’t oxidize and can be stored for longer. This allows the restaurant to serve precious vintages by the glass without having to worry about spoiling the rest of the bottle.
For starters, we were served the Hamachi (P799) and Japanese Diver Scallops (P799). The former is a marinated sashimi with ponzu, togarashi, salmon roe, and grilled orange slices. From the first bite, we noticed how fragrant it was—sesame, soy sauce, ponzu. All very unmistakably Japanese, but also refreshing and sweet. The fatty fish had a strong flavor on its own and the wine did even more to bring the ocean notes out of the dish.
The latter was seared scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree and topped with honey bacon and lumpfish roe. Where the first dish was sweet and light, this was salty and slightly richer. We’re going deeper into the meal here. The scallops were springy and meaty on their own, and the toppings further added to the meatiness of the dish. The cauliflower puree, we suspect, was enhanced with dairy. It was milky and contrasted the heaviness of the bacon and roe quite nicely. This balanced the briney flavors of the seafood.
Then it was time for red wine—The Prisoner Derange Red Blend 2017 (P11,800/bottle), a Californian blend of five grape varieties. It was served chilled—a hallmark of an approachable restaurant, we think. Or at least one that knows who they’re serving in this tropical weather, no matter that it’s already the -Ber months! This wine similarly had a very wet mouthfeel, which is again consistent with the easy-to-drink theme. Even for a red, its flavor wasn’t overpowering. Dare we say we detected a hint of nuttiness to it.
We had it with the Lobster & Squid Ink Pasta (P1,099/half lobster, P1,799/whole). The moment it’s served, you immediately get a whiff of the basil, seafood, and tomatoes. The sauce is of course housemade. During our tasting, we found it a tad too sweet, too mcuh like Filipino spaghetti, but we hear this normally isn’t the case. The pasta itself, to our surprise, wasn’t inherently black; it was coated in a squid ink sauce. We don’t think it made a difference taste-wise, but it was a detail we noticed. The best part of the plate was naturally the lobster—buttery, firm, and fresh. But the dark horse was the edible flowers. They tasted like herbs and were always a welcome burst of freshness in such a rich dish.
The Sous Vide Pork Chop (P699) came with mashed potatoes, red wine jus, and a carrot puree. But the most unexpected part was the pickled okras that covered the surface of the meat. The peppery aroma of the okra (think green peppers) was a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the sauce, and its texture—The crunch! The freshness!—kept the tender meat and gently seared fat cap from becoming too much. As for the meat itself, it tasted familiar, like garlic, pepper, and pork. It was the perfect vehicle for the complex flavors of the syrupy and savory sauce. Altogether, it was a deeply satisfying bite that was simultaneously comforting and new.
As for dessert—off-menu but hardly a secret—we sampled the Chocolate Mousse (P249) with sliced bananas, slivered almonds, chantilly cream, and golden sprinkles. When asked about the chocolate, the server smiled, “60% Barry Callebaut.” The mousse itself was neither too airy nor too dense—just right. The bananas kept the dessert nostalgic and fun, while the nuts and nonpareils added crunch. Most importantly, the quality and the flavor of the chocolate really came through with every spoonful.
The way Tales & Feelings has come up with their regular menu is by continually hosting monthly tasting menus—also something to look out for—then tailor it based on customer feedback. The menu changes regularly to adapt to the seasonality of ingredients, but there are mainstays like the Korean Fried Cauliflower (P249), Bruschetta (P249), Steaks (start at P1,299), the Truffle Pasta (P699), and the Lobster & Squid Ink Pasta. Their team is also available to cater private events, even outside the restaurant.