Just So Wrong: Villa Cafe in San Antonio Village, Makati
I'll be honest in saying that it took me almost half a year to write about Villa Cafe. More than 5 months of trying to find the right words to say. This is just one of those rare cases wherein I went there full of hopes..too much of high hopes to be exact. I kept my eyes, ears and basically all senses open. Ready to soak in everything to enjoy it to the fullness. Then reality hits telling me that it was terrible. So terrible that I doubt if it's even worth a second chance. This is definitely a rare case because I'm the forgiving type...I really didn't want to relive those painful moments but okay, let me tell you all about it.
It was a well-planned Sunday lunch with the family. Reservations were even made to ensure that we got a table ready for our party of 9. As we got to the restaurant at 12PM, it was empty. Too empty that we wonder if they were open as not a single wait staff was in sight. It was a good thing we heard laughter coming from the second floor and glasses clicking or we would have left thinking the restaurant was closed. Finally, one wait staff in t-shirt and jeans came down and after giving him our reservation name, he pointed to the empty long table by the door.
10 minutes...then 20....30....45 minutes... not a single dish came to our table. Not even our starters. Finally after a million follow ups, they have managed to produce our first starter -- Villa's Sisig (Php. 325). Well only one out of two came first. With our forks, we all got a mouthful just to tame our rumbling tummies. It was good, I remember enjoying this a lot. After all, it was one of the restaurant's specialty. Add Php 750 and you'll have your sisig with foie gras. The second plate of sisig came 10 minutes after.
We had the Dagupan Boneless Bangus Steak ala Pobre (Php. 255) which was well-marinated and seasoned with garlic bits. The meat was fresh and we enjoyed this with lots of rice.
The Hoy Gising, Gising! (Php. 325) was one of our favorites as the rich coconut milk just made this vegetable dish so yummy. Even my grandparents enjoyed spoonfuls of this.
As for the Pastel de Lengua (Php 525), we were expecting a baked puffed pastry filled with tender chunks of ox tongue. We were quite disappointed with this one which was obviously not worth the price as it had so much carrots, potatoes and sausages in it. As for the lengua? A few cubes are in there...you just have to dig further.
A Filipino meal with my Dad will never be complete without having a plate of Crispy Pata. That's why Pan and I made sure to order the Boneless Crispy Pata (Php. 675) which may not look like the traditional kind but it was pretty yummy too. Wish they'd do something about the sad looking veggies though.
Lastly, the Soft Lamb Shank Kaldereta (Php. 755) was good but it came way too late. We were done with our meal as all of the rice have been eaten, all the other plates have been cleared away when finally it came. I was only able to have a bite of this and think it was just a-okay.
The menu was simple that we basically ordered 60% of whatever was in it. We would have wanted to order more but the rest were out of stock. We're 9 hungry people and all we wanted was to enjoy authentic Capampangan cuisine as what we were told it's known for. We ordered a LOT! From starters to soup down to a number of main dishes. We opted to leave out dessert as I had my tummy set for something else. After getting our orders, the wait-staff headed to the open kitchen.
Then came another break. A shorter wait this time but seriously, it was half the hour past 1 and with my grandparents with us, this was seriously no laughing matter. Another group came in after us and sat at the table behind us. Despite my quickly diminishing patience, I somehow pity them as they were obviously hungry as well and the Mom resorted to buying a bag of pan de sal from the bakery next door. Tsk!
Finally, our Bulanglang Pork Ribs soup (Php. 255) came. Once again it was good as it had a delicious hint of guava. We all enjoyed this and I was happy that the soup came piping hot.
After our soup, we had another lull. Remember that Villa Cafe has an open kitchen and since the wait was painfully long, my Kongkong began watching the "chefs" at work. At some point, he caught the chef preparing a dish and perhaps to check the flavour, he dipped his spoon into it, tasted it and obviously not pleased, dipped the same spoon the second time for another taste. It's a good thing it wasn't my OC Papa who saw this or we would definitely be forced to end our meal right there and then and to leave the restaurant right away. This is a major no-no in restaurant hygiene and I hope that was just a one-time occurrence and the "chef" would remember to keep his contaminated spoons out of the way.
By this time, complains have been raised. Finally, this brought the kitchen staff to get their acts together. Our dishes came out all at the same time.
As we were inhaling our food, we began to feel our eyes tearing up. The exhaust inside was terrible that you have to be ready to smell like food after your meal. The ground floor was so smokey that it hurts when it gets into your eyes. We even tried to open the door to let the smoke out but eventually, it really forced us to quickly finish our meal, pay for it and get out of the restaurant fast.
Over-all the food was good. It's really sad though that service was painfully slow and the hygiene was unacceptable. Oh, we also ordered the Warm Chicken Galantina Terrine (Php. 325) as well as the Villa's Rellenung Bangus (Php. 450) which never showed up. *sigh*
Can you feel my pain? I really want to love Villa Cafe, I really do. I was happy with the food but with all these things added up, I don't think I can get myself to go for a second try. Sorry but no thanks.
Villa Cafe is located at the Ground Floor of the Glory Building, 7427 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City.