Dining in a lush garden surrounded by the most colorful flowers imaginable, the soft breeze of the wind and a breathtaking view of the Taal....
This is one reason why we just love dining at Tagaytay. The cool weather, the just-right atmosphere and the feeling that we have once again discovered a new culinary secret not known to many. With this, I'm dedicating one entire entry to share with you the must-eats in Tagaytay.
1) Buon Giorno
Located at the Cliffhouse along Aguinaldo Highway, this quaint Italian restaurant has the best tasting Salmon Risotto in that part of Luzon. Operated by a lady whom I believed is a food stylist, it's no surprise that you'll find your tummy growling just as you begin to flip through the heavy wooden menu. Everything just seems so good and believe me, it really does!
Aside from the risotto, our order always consists of the Smoked Salmon with Mango Dill Sauce, Frito Misto de Mare (assorted seafood), Quattro Formaggi (four cheese) pizza, and the Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce.
Service is also always perfect. I guess it helps that the owners are always present (the wife checking every single dish that comes out and the husband drying the utensils with his headset on). Thus, no matter how packed the place is, the servers are always attentive. Thank God for good servers, hope there's more of them around.
Budget: make sure to alot around P400 per head
This is my family's #1 choice everytime we go up to Tagaytay. No trip will ever be complete without a meal in Josephine's. Prior to our last visit, Josephine's continues to shine with its signature Filipino dishes namely Kare-kare (beef in peanut butter sauce), Crispy Pata (deep fried pork knuckles), Rellenong Talong (stuffed eggplant)and Sinigang na Hipon (shrimp in tamarind broth). It also has one of the best location overlooking the Taal that customers would always stop for a photo opportunity before and after having their meal.
However, our last visit was rather an unpleasant one. We were given a table outside and with the cold wind blowing quite strongly, it was difficult to enjoy the meal while your freezing and your toe nails turning grey. Furthermore, as we do not have anything against cats, it can also be a challenge trying to eat and to keep an eye out for those stray cats who would just climb tables and lick the leftovers right off the plate. Definitely in need of the sanitary police here.
Perhaps its still best to dine indoors and pray that the dishes are being well sanitized by the kitchen crew.
Budget: as dishes normally comes in "family style" sizes, perhaps its best to prepare around P250 - P300 per head
3) Sonya's Garden
This is the best hidden secret that we have discovered in Tagaytay. Literally hidden away from the line of restaurants in Aguinaldo Highway, Sonya's Garden is located at the Buck Estate near Tagaytay Royale. It's always best to make reservations especially with the growing number of guests that Sonya welcomes every day. The feast is predictable, repetitive in fact but still I can't get enough of it.
After leading you to your table, one of Sonya's attendants will begin to fill your table with a huge bowl of greens, tiny white bowls of toppings, 2 bottles of dressing and a pitcher of the freshest dalandan juice. This signals the start of your culinary feast at Sonya's Garden. The greens are picked fresh from her garden and the bread, which will be served after the salad, comes straight from her oven.
Don't stuff yourselves just yet because after the salad, comes a basket of bread with six spreads. After the bread comes the pasta. A bowl of steaming noodles is accompanied with the biggest prawns, the brightest sun-dried tomatoes, and for the cream lovers, a serving of chicken carbonara sauce.
At this point, you'd feel so full and would fight the urge to wave your white napkin in the air as if to surrender. Nonetheless, trust Sonya to put a sweet finish to your meal with the yummiest fried kamote and banana turon while washing this down with a warm cup of tarragon tea.
This is what I'd call a good-for-you meal. Filling but very healthy!
Budget: Sonya has a set rate for her meal which is P660 inclusive of tax and SC.
A short chat with Phi-Anh taught me that bawai means grandmother in Vietnamese and this is what they call her mother who runs this homey restaurant. "It wasn't planned at all," she shared with me as I sat down to chat with her after enjoying a delightful meal during a visit with my family.
It just so happen that bawai is a very talented cook and family friends would also request her to cook for them. Thus, the idea of opening their Tagaytay home came about after the constant prodding of friends and relatives. However, they are only open three times a week because bawai and her son Paul would go all the way to Manila to buy their stocks. The vegetables, however, was sourced in Tagaytay but everything else is carefully hand-picked by bawai herself.
To ensure a shorter waiting time for the order to be served, it is also recommended to secure a reservation at least two days before you plan to visit and if possible to also text in your order for them to prepare in advance. No idea what to order? No worries though because Paul will personally email you a copy of the menu complete with a photo as all dishes has a Vietnamese name.
We ordered the fresh Vietnamese spring roll and the Bung Tom (sauteed shrimp with garlic, cucumber, peanuts and rice). One thing I've noticed is that they have really HUGE shrimps and they did not scrimp on this! Each spring roll is literally busting with three huge shrimps and my Bung Tom has a generous serving of shrimp as well. After a hearty lunch, we were served with complimentary Banh da Lon (Vietnamese sticky cake topped with cream and nuts) which is sooo good!
We will definitely be back, bawai. :)
Estimate Budget: P250 per head
Up Next! What to do in Tagaytay.
Project City Getaway: Tagaytay (1st of 3 parts)
Project City Getaway: Tagaytay (last part)