ACTUALLY, it's a story about Tacloban and the devastating effect of typhoon Yolanda aka Haiyan. But it also tells the story of how welcoming Davao City is to people who seek its safety.
That's the Rustic Kitchen at the Autoville Compound along F. Torres Street, better described as the compound beside Davcon. Rustic Kitchen is at that compound where Shatter Persian Kebabs, Yoh-Froz, Trellis, Taiwan Red House Shabu-shabu, and Pawsome are. It's at the farthest right corner after Pawsome.
The food buddies for the night were Deng, and Deng's long-time friend Millette Atienza, Millette's husband Roy, and their daughter Trixie. It was a belated birthday treat by Roy, I was told. Whatever, I was there for the food and the new place. Nyahahahaha.
Anyway, I first saw Rustic Kitchen when we were looking for a Japanese restaurant in Cabantian. It looked very inviting, except that we already planned to check out that Japanese restaurant. That was when the Cabantian Road was at its worst, we never found ourselves back there again, traumatized by the terrible state of the road.
Thus, when Deng said the Rustic Kitchen is now at F. Torres, it was easy to convince me to go there.
It was full. We had to wait for a table, the crowd had a good number of millennials, and you know how loud-mouthed millennials are. Their voices were echoing in chorus. Throw in a toddler of the screaming screeching kind... Enfants terribles turning on a major headache attack...
Now, that kind of setting would set the bar high for food appreciation. I mean, you won't easily be pleased by food when you are overpowered by the noise, thus, I give Rustic Kitchen five thumbs up because despite the torturous noise, I still enjoyed the food.
The menu said the bagnet kare-kare (P390) is a must on the table, so we got that. We also got Salted Egg Wings (P230, 6 pieces), Fruity Calamari Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette (P220), Parmesan crusted chicken fillet (P195), and grilled Norwegian Salmon Steak (P160/100g)
The winner is the bagnet kare-kare. The salad is also okay and the salmon steak. Both chicken dishes were just right. It's something children would love, although, I never really learned to love those fried stuff coated with salted egg...
We would have opted for Nachos. but, as the very amiable waitress said, "Hindi pa po dumarating yung nachos." (True enough, midway into our meal, a young man walked in loaded with bags of nachos from S&R. Natrapik?)
Over-all, yes, it's a good place to dine in. Just maybe avoid the regular dining hours during what remains of the holiday season. Millennials are on vacation, and their voices can be very overpowering.
So, what's that about Tacloban, Yolanda, and Davao?
As Rustic Kitchen's story goes, it started as an American diner concept spot in Tacloban City named Uncle Sam Restaurant in 2011 in a space very common in Tacloban -- tiny and offering good food. It became so popular, they moved to a bigger place in 2013. Everything was taken away by Yolanda in November 2013, just a few months later. Left with nothing, the family sought the nurturing shelter of Davao City in 2014 "where we immediately fell in love with the City". It was in 2015 when Rustic Kitchen rose in Cabantian and has since been gathering a good number of following.
From the crowd we found ourselves engulfed in, it also has a good following downtown.