At the cellar

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

IT wasn’t our first time, but on our first, I arrived so late, there were just leftovers, definitely not something you’d want to publish in a newspaper to entice others to come over.

Anyway, while this is a relatively new place, it’s not that new to the regular diners who have their sights ready for anything new in the horizon. The name, “The Cellar”. It’s at the ground floor of the Oboza ancestral residence at the corner of Rizal Street and Crooked Road, which houses Claude’s on its main floor. In the olden times, this would be the “silong”, the basement, even if it’s at ground level, old houses being elevated a floor up.

The Cellar features Spanish-Filipino fusion food and Argentinan wine, and on that night I was determined to have wine to go with my dinner.

I gathered three: Imee, Miggy, and Trisha, and we arrived right at the same time even if Trisha was coming from Matina while the three of us were coming from the north. That was just perfect because that means we get to order all together and I get to take photos of every food we have.

It was past 8 p.m. and I was starving. But having been there before, taking the same table and sitting on the same seat, where Trisha, Imee, and Miggy ordered to satisfy their eyes that turned out to be more than what their tummy can tuck in, we were more in control at this time.

I ordered the Cellar mongo and spicy eggplant in coconut milk, plus a cup of rice (I asked for steamed rice but was asked if I wouldn’t mind to have garlic rice instead because they ran out of steamed rice? yes, it was a late dinner). Imee got the chicken with mushroom sauce plus beef salpicao, Miggy got the fish fingers, while Trisha got the roast beef.
The spicy eggplant is hot. Like chili hot. So if you’re not into chillis, ask the cook to tone it down or just skip it. But it’s good. As Imee described it upon tasting it (but didn’t try again since she’s averse to chili hot food), “kulang na lang kuhol”. It’s thick coconut milk cooked with the sliced eggplant complete with the spices you expect to come with something cooked in coconut. It goes best with a sprinkle of salt and a lot of rice (Pinoy eh!).

The mongo is not the mongo you might be expecting. It’s definitely not the steaming soupy mongo you have at home. It’s more like chili con carne without the carne. Still good, if you were not drooling over the image of steaming soupy mongo with ampalaya leaves and pork bits fried to a crisp.

The chicken with mushroom sauce is a winner, the beef salpicao tastes good but was on the chewy side, I like the garlic sauce though. The fish fingers looked like fish fingers, and honestly, not unless you are really bad in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with fish fingers. And obviously, you don’t open posh restos like The Cellar just to go wrong with fish fingers. And the roast beef was? oh, I thought it was kaldereta. But it was good. It just looked like kaldereta. But then, it’s fusion, so you’re in for some surprise. Much like the chili con carne in disguise as mongo.
On to the ambience? it has the vintage air that only an authentic ancestral home can give. Sorry, no amount of copies can ever copy such.
The lawn outside completes the feel. And if you’re seated where I was (on the two occasions I was there), on the long table to the left just beside the spiral staircase, you will realize what no one has thought of when the whole place was spruced up; you get full view of the stairs going to the main house. Meaning? Ladies: when dining at Claude’s? errrr? best not to wear minis.

The wine afterwards capped the night to perfection. Yeppers. Old world is good for the soul.

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