Soulful indulgence-A A +A
Friday, August 17, 2012
PASSERSBY would easily be drawn to it, especially at night. It is a well-lit, tiny establishment exuding a homey vibe, dubbed with an unfamiliar name and then often seen with a full parking space out front. Those should be enough to get one’s foodie senses tingling, leading him to knock at its door and ask: what’s up?
The place is called Soul Bistro, and it is where one can take delight in good food amidst an ambience that is like a cross between one’s own dining room and an old-school café.
It is managed by mom-and-son pair Renée and Jagger Evangelista; with mom Renée in charge of the kitchen and essentially the “soul of the bistro.”
“I simply have the passion and enthusiasm for cooking and baking,” Renée shared. “I didn’t have formal training. I learned by experimenting. My dad was a picky eater and I had a grandmother who practically lived in the kitchen, so I just followed her and observed what she did.”
Renée’s relationship with the kitchen began when she was only 12 years old, when her dad gave her a gas range as a graduation gift. Over the years, she had mastered not only Filipino cuisine but others cuisines as well. Family and friends had enjoyed her dishes so much that she even used to accept small orders from them that she would prepare at home.
“When my kids were growing up, I felt that it was a way to make them come home,” she added. Eventually, it was her kids who convinced her to push through with starting the bistro. Much preparation and a bit of prodding later, Soul Bistro formally opened on March 7 this year.
Renée said: “The menu is a mix of Filipino favorites: American, Spanish and Mexican food. I chose dishes that everybody can have: there’s something for the kids, there are also pastas and sandwiches, as well as salads for those who want to eat light.”
Topping the list of Soul Bistro’s specialties is its Baby Back Ribs with Barcelona Rice (rice mixed with Spanish chorizo). Renée’s take on the popular pork dish is commendable; the meat is well marinated in her signature sauce, making it very tender and tasty. It is a prime cut, too, offering the diner more of the meat and less of the “ribs.”
Other dishes that might also catch the attention of diners are the herb and anchovy pork chop, beef tenderloin tips, lengua (ox tongue) in brown wine sauce, and pesto pasta with olive oil-infused tuyo (dried fish).
As for its line of snacks, a must-try is the smoked salmon, which is smoked salmon mixed with leafy greens placed in foccacia bread. It is a healthy snack that was inspired by a Jewish preparation that is typically served with bagel. There is also the chorizo taco, which according to Renée, is a hit among young customers.
Renée shared that Soul Bistro has no fixed menu of desserts because it greatly depends on the ingredients available for each week. Some of her favorite goodies to serve are apple pie, leche flan (milk custard), tiramisu, banoffee pie and several kinds of mousse cakes. Renée also has her very own baking creation called Bistro Bars, a chewy pastry bar filled mainly with chopped walnuts and grated coconut.
Indeed, it was a lucky day for foodies everywhere when Renée agreed to her son’s plans of creating Soul Bistro. Somewhat an offshoot of her own kitchen, it is where everyone else can luckily have a taste of the ‘soulful’ goodness it has to offer.
Soul Bistro is at 167 R. Duterte St., Banawa, Cebu City. Heading south, food trippers can spot the bistro on the right side of the street, just a few meters after Paseo Arcenas.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2012.