Maimee's Garden Cafe in San Juan

I really have to thank my lucky stars that despite that fact that Paul and I love to dine out with friends, we don't have to drive so far to be able to enjoy good food. In fact, here in San Juan... we simply just have to WALK.

I've told you about my favorite afternoon snack venue called Segovia's Cakes and Recipes (Homemade Mamon FTW!!), my recent late-night find -- Taibun Bakery and Coffee Shop and of course, the countless number of milk teas and noodle houses that's just within walking distance from home.

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Last week, Paul and I joined our favorite couple friends Jai & Stan, Jeanny and Karl for an impromptu triple date at Maimee's Garden Cafe. Compared to the other restaurants and food establishments in San Juan, this is the most hidden and it takes a keen eye and a good knowledge around the area to be able to find it. I first saw the banner announcing the opening of Maimee's Garden Cafe a few months ago. This prompted Paul and I to drive around the neighborhood one afternoon in search for the exact location of the restaurant. Luckily, we found it right away and agreed to go back and try it out soon.

Maimee's Garden Cafe is located inside a small street called E. Jacinto where it's near J. Abad Santos (where Serenitea, Mann Hann and Alex III are located). As you reach the restaurant, the friendly guard will help you park and usher you down the side path where it leads you to the restaurant. The entrance was quite dramatic that I felt myself holding my breath as I make my way down the rocky steps and as I came face to face with a mini ponds with man-made falls and a beautifully manicured garden. We had the option to stay outdoors or to enjoy the cool air-conditioning indoors. Obviously, we chose the latter as we wanted my friend Jai, who's a mommy-to-be, to be extremely comfortable.

The menu was simple yet I liked it this way, below each entry is a one-liner description which simply explains what the dish is all about. Our group wasn't complete yet so we agreed to order a plate of salad and starter to share.

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Jai ordered some Caesar Salad (Php. 230) which had the biggest Caesar Salad serving that I've ever seen! In fact, it was good for our party of 5! The lettuce was crisp and fresh, no dark spots and was sprinkled with bacon bits and Parmesan cheese. Beside it is a saucer filled with Maimee's homemade Caesar dressing. We passed the huge plate around and got a generous share of salad each. I loved the light dressing and the crunchiness of the lettuce. I am definitely ordering this again soon.

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We also got a plate of Cheezy Beefy Nachos (Php. 190). Friends who regularly dine with me knows how much I love nachos. This is the homemade kind where some chips are coated with melted cheese and the entire platter sprinkled with ground beef. In the middle of the plate is a tiny bowl filled with their homemade salsa. I found the salsa a bit spicy so I happily just munched on the chips and beef alone.

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Everyone had their individual orders so Paul and I ordered the Maimee's Kare Kare (Php. 360) to share. We had mixed feelings about this dish. I personally loved it as it was filled with ox tripe and tail which was very chewy and tasty while Paul wasn't quite pleased as he loves his Kare Kare filled with beef, beef and more beef.

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This dish doesn't come with rice so I had a plate of Herb Rice to go with it. Yummy!

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In addition to the Kare Kare, we also got a bowl of Pumpkin Soup (Php. 80) to share. We loved the creamy, flavorful soup that has a very strong cinnamon taste. It's served with a piece of crunchy garlic bread which Paul quickly munched on and forgot to leave some for me *sniff*. I guess it was really that good.

Needless to say, we were very happy with our first Maimee's experience and were so glad that it's just a stone's throw away from home.

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Happy Halloween!!!
.... Less than a week after, we were back at Maimee's Garden Cafe, this time with our soon-to-wed friends Tim and Len. I've blogged about the time when they first got engaged...then once again after their Ting Hun ceremony and I can't believe they're actually a month away from their BIG day! I'm so excited! It's just so amazing that Len and I have been experiencing milestones in our love lives almost one after the other. It somehow makes ua feel like we're soul sisters.

I've been raving about Maimee's Garden Cafe from the time they went to pick us up at home till Tim finally was able to park his car in Maimee's garage. Once again, the friendly guard led us towards the restaurant and just like our first impression, my friends were also at awe with the beautiful garden set-up.

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I wanted to try another type of soup and since there were only TWO types of soup -- we went for the Mushroom Soup (Php. 100) this time. One sip and I found it ok but nothing extremely amazing as compared to the Pumpkin Soup. A bit thin, I like the thick creamy type of mushroom soup (with a dash of truffle oil hehe). The mushroom bits were a bit scarce too that I would have preferred a more chunkier texture as well. I'll definitely stick to the Pumpkin Soup next time.

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During our first visit, we saw our friend Jai happily enjoying her plate of Boneless Barbecue Short Ribs (Php. 390) which made us make a mental note that we will try this on our return. Paul didn't forget and he didn't even bother reading the menu as he simply wanted to have the short ribs that evening.

I was also eyeing the Beef Tapa (Php. 280) that was ordered by Jai's sister Janelle last time and that was what I ordered on my return.

The Boneless Barbecue Short Ribs truly didn't disappoint. Jai was obviously happy with her dinner and now we know why. How can you resist tender, boneless meat brushed with Maimee's signature marinade. Serving was very generous and it came with herb rice too.

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As for my Beef Tapa, it fell short in the tenderness department compared to the ribs. It was thin, a bit chewy and dry. I normally do not like dipping my meat in vinegar but this time, I had to request for some to make it more juicy. Better to skip this and try something else next time.

On my first visit, I loved the Herb Rice. It was fluffy and flavorful just the way I like my fried rice to be. However, on my second return, it was a bit cold, dry and some rice formed into balls and were not even coated with the yellow oil/sauce anymore. It was not as flavorful as I remembered it to be too. I guess they have to improve on their consistency next time.

Still, Maimee's Garden Cafe has captured my heart and I look forward to going back more often next time with my family and with cute little Scottie in tow.

Maimee's Garden Cafe is located at 20 E. Jacinto St. Little Baguio, San Juan City. Call them at 724-1538.

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