Where there’s more

WHEN food connoisseur Chandra Mercado was coming up with names for her restaurant, she first thought of playing with the word “and.”

She had three dining concepts up her sleeve—a collaboration she wanted to signify in one easy-to-recall word that unfortunately her earlier choice of a conjunction didn’t quite achieve. When the suggestion to call it Ampersand popped up, she knew she had then a “eureka moment.” Catchy, quirky and unique, it is also fitting because ampersand refers to the logogram &. After all, Ampersand—her restaurant, that is—is a restaurant and a bar and a deli fused into one.

Opened in March this year, Ampersand is one of the handful of establishments that transition through different personalities from day to night, and quite well at that. It’s a homey breakfast nook in the morning with its brewed coffee and freshly made breads. A classy choice of destination for lunch dates and dinner affairs that works just as well for happy hour leading to late-night cocktails thanks to its well-stocked bar. The deli is conveniently placed at one side, with its cheeses and jamon, an equally enticing sight for those who want to bring their gastronomic trysts home.

Its interiors have been designed to be as versatile. It has a predominantly classic theme, with pieces of rustic, farm-inspired accents like a barn door leading to the restroom, ceiling lights held by hooks, and baskets and hay bags on top of shelves. Chandra said this was inspired by their practice of the farm-to-table method for most ingredients, and how as much as possible the restaurant tries to keep everything organic.

“With our cuisine, there’s no specific region (of origin) or palate—it’s more of classic comfort food with a modern twist, and a touch of our chef’s personality,” Chandra said. Its menu includes salads, pastas and seafood, and a meat lover’s dream come true: choices of 32-day aged steaks and sous vide pork dishes. And Sundays, she said, have been their busiest because of the restaurant’s brunch buffet spread of its specialties.

Behind Ampersand’s menu is head chef Fortune Fulgar, who brings with him a 13-year experience as chef in a five-star hotel in Boracay. Chandra herself is no stranger to cookery, as she has a culinary degree under her belt and has also worked in upscale hotels here and abroad, including JW Marriott. Remarkable backgrounds and all that have translated well in their restaurant, as it presents impeccable quality in both food and service.

As for their bar, Chandra said they want it to be a place where guests can enjoy signature house drinks, and at the same time, see cocktails more than just liquor and appreciate the craft behind it. Their bartenders are very involved and introduce new mixes quite often. Aside from house cocktails, Ampersand has craft beers, wines and other beverages—some they highlight with special promos like Mojito Mondays, Tequila Tuesdays and Wine-All-You-Can Wednesdays. Its deli, meanwhile, is a haven for those seeking variants of cold cuts. It sits next to the restaurant’s dedicated pastry station that makes breads, cheesecakes and other sweet creations from scratch.

Although that’s already quite a lot, they’re certainly not stopping there. Chandra said an international mixologist will soon be joining them to share his specialty, and more events can also be expected there, among others. Living up to the name they’ve decided to use—there’s certainly a lot more of additions to look forward to in Ampersand.

Ampersand is on the ground floor of Banilad Town Centre in Gov. M. Cuenco Ave., Cebu City.

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