Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016



Aromatic smell of garden herbs. Shade of age-old trees. Uninhibited breeze from different directions. These make up a pleasant dining experience that's not at all overwhelming to the senses. They let you stay for the meal and linger for the ambiance. In Marikina Heights, a neighborhood restaurant called Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe imbibes all these qualities of a homespun countryside dining destination, rain or shine.

It's just a short stroll away from my scheduled visit of the newly-opened The Book Museum Cum Ethnology Center in the same charming residential area of Marikina City. Prior to my recent guided tour of the latter, I decided to have lunch at the garden-turned-restaurant that serves home-cooked specialties of a tinapa dish that's gourmet-style, boneless crispy pata, and other Filipino favorites. Guests can read books for free while waiting for their orders to be served and there's a dreamy canopy bed that accentuates the herb garden fronting the main cafe for photo opportunities.

Dining At The Gazebo

My dining spot with a few friends was at the gazebo behind the cafe. Weaving through the short trail from the restaurant gate all the way to it was a treat in itself because it reminded me of my late grandmother who loved keeping a similar type of garden in Pasig City's dining district of Kapitolyo. At the gazebo, guests can have a relaxing time seeing nothing but greenery, a few knick knacks, and an old-school swing set.

Historic Neighborhood

The neighborhood might have been once used as an American military camp, but it has since become a quaint area to start a family which was what the parents of the restaurant's owner did in the early '60s. From a terrain that coughed up ammunition of different types to medicine kits and grenades, the place was transformed into a home that still feels like one today even as it's now a legit restaurant where people can dine al fresco.

Delicious Revelry

Once our orders came, the delicious revelry started. I began to down a cold serving of the restaurant's Hibiscus Drink which was so refreshing that I poured that pitcher onto my cold glass one too many times.

I was able to taste the famous Gourmet Tinapa which consisted of shredded tinapa flakes with capers, tomatoes and talinong (Philippine Spinach). It was elegantly topped with a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg and served with herbed rice.

I followed it with a taste of the Boneless Crispy Pata which I easily tore into. A plate of which is good for sharing with four to five more people, so I proceeded to sample the Peppered Pork Steak next. From one indulgent dish to another, the steak was tender to the bite. It's also well seasoned enough to make me chew with satisfaction.

I also had a sliver of our Pan Grilled Chicken order which initially looked like a chicken inasal with the way it was served on a wooden plate of fresh banana leaf. The savory dish is actually a native delight that's complemented by servings of tomato salsa, labuyo sauce, and herbed rice.

Memorable Bagnet Sinigang

The dish that I consider to be most memorable was the Bagnet Sinigang for tasting so rich in flavor. I remember the hefty servings of bagnet that crowned the soup dish just right. Its exciting tamarind kick was something that I'll always return for.

Sweet Enders

We capped our delicious lunch with dessert orders since we still decided to linger for a few minutes more. We reckoned that killing time over a plate of a Brownie A La Mode wouldn't hurt. For my own dessert sampling, though, I ordered the restaurant's famous Halo Halo Turon which is basically a sweet dessert in a turon wrapper. I loved how it was quickly served after frying and paired with a scoop of ice cream because the hot and cold sensations in the mouth of both distinct textures -- crunchy and soft -- blended well in every bite and scoop. 

Looking around, I found it amazing to find out that most trees at the property are almost a hundred years old. No wonder the site is a favorite rendezvous for romantic dates that end up in life-changing proposals.

Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe

Address: 145 Ipil St. corner Champaca, Marikina Heights, Marikina City, Philippines 1810
Phone: 940-1976
Hours of Operation:
(Tue-Thu) 11:00am - 9:00pm
(Fri-Sun) 8:00am - 9:00pm

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