As a former Manilena, Lolo Dad’s Cafe was a usual sight that beckoned me whenever I passed by busy Quirino Avenue. While only twenty minutes away (on foot) from my parent’s house, the wallet-weeping prices and intimidating walled-in atmosphere of this 13-year old family-owned restaurant prevented me from taking further interest in dining.
|This door opens to a cornucopia of wonders.|
Thanks to my sister-in-law, I, together with the mister and Lia, was able to feast on their menu. And my, what a spectacular gastronomic post-Christmas treat it was.
Once you set foot on the small patio, any feeling of intimidation whatsoever is cast away. Guests are greeted by a friendly staff at the parking lot, an umbrella in hand, ready to usher guests inside. The restaurant itself is quite small and surprisingly, very homey.
None of those uptight fine dining rules exists. Guests dine in casual daytime wear – families with toddlers, college friends in jeans, bigwigs in business meetings – and waiters, while extremely knowledgeable about the menu, speak in the native tongue wearing their best smiles.
|Open theater kitchen for people who’d like to watch.|
The wooden interiors and table setup are minimalist and classy, and bears some semblance of ancestral homes. Quite unpretentious and warm really, for a restaurant who has earned a reputation for being exorbitant.
We had P2,000 to spend on for lunch that day, and I was deadset on sampling at least one dessert of choice no matter what. So we picked only modest portions of each dish, just enough to sample and tease the palate. We were glad we did, because the modest portions are sufficient enough even for males (which made us wonder how huge the regular portions were, considering this is supposedly only half the size).
We were served baked bread with garlic butter spread while waiting for the appetizers. The aroma was a bit peculiar, somewhat like banana, but the taste rather wonderful. It was freshly baked too, and we greatly enjoyed such soft, warm rolls.
Jigs ordered Gourmet salad of lobster and prawns for starters. The lobster was soft and flavorful. I’m used to lobster meat being bland, and this one caught me off-guard.
I had the Ahi Tuna Loin and Marinated Salmon Grilled and Watermelon with Soy Vinaigrette, a colorful, beautifully plated mix of greens, raw salmon and fresh raw tuna slices covered in seared watermelon.I was skeptical how grilled fruit would taste on raw fish, and was pleasantly surprised how refreshing such combination was. Truly, love at first bite!
We decided to skip the soups and fast forwarded to the main course. The waiter came in with calamansi sorbet for two before handing over my plate of Lamb Belly and Chicken Kebab with Cinnamon and Garlic Rice, and Jigs’ Confit of Kurobuta Pork Belly with Arborio Rice. What a refreshing palate cleanser that sorbet was.
|Calamansi sorbet. Sarap!|
In the past I may have mentioned that I don’t like lamb. However I heard that Lolo Dad’s serves excellent lamb, so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t go home disappointed. Cooked medium rare, the lamb was bursting with deep flavors, and while the cut was a bit thick, the meat was soft and juicy. The chicken kebab was delish too.
Jigs forked in every now and then, just as I had my share of his pork belly. It was incredibly soft the meat falls of from the slab every time you fork over for a morsel. I never had previously eaten risotto, but that tomato-based risotto is pretty darn good 🙂
We were already full by the time we finished the meats – which is a surprise because Jigs always requires a second cup of rice. But you know what they say: Always make room for dessert.
I ordered a modest portion of Dark chocolate and Almond layered cake with Quenelle of white chocolate mousseline and vanilla almond ice cream. The plating is whimsical. The vanilla ice cream paired well with the cake. I like how the chocolate is not too sweet and how the fresh fruits created a symphony of flavors in my mouth, though I wish the cake itself could’ve been more moist and softer.
All in all, we were satisfied with our Lolo Dad’s experience. No, scrap that. We were beyond pleased. Service was impeccable (though billing out can be quite slow), the ambiance very welcoming, and the food and its presentation crafted masterfully. The ingredients and quality are unmistakably premium-grade; the taste speak for itself. These are things that can never be replicated by any other restaurant.
Was it expensive? Definitely (Although, thanks to the P2,000-voucher, we only had to add P100 more). But was it worth it? With every cent.