Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cafe Ysabel

Cafe Ysabel
V-day is five days away, and perhaps you’re thinking of a romantic place to spend time with your beloved. I’ve been thinking about that, too…no, not of a beloved, but of a romantic place to feed my body and soul. Antonio’s or Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay are beautiful places to dine and unwind. But the thought of driving to Tagaytay with the weekend traffic diminished my enthusiasm.

Tired of the usual restaurants found in the malls, my friends and I agreed to try something new for our pre-V-day girl-bonding. Dowie suggested Café Ysabel, a 25-year old restaurant in San Juan. Oh yeah, Café Ysabel---said to be Manila’s best kept secret. I had an intimate dinner there once upon a time---a romantic place! So we drove there for lunch today.

Café Ysabel is housed in a 1927 ancestral home in P. Guevarra, with an old-rich ambiance. The pre-war house is wrapped in latticed veranda, and furnished with turn of the century tables, stained glass panels, antique lamps, and hand-painted ceilings.

As we browsed over the menu, we were surprised at the affordable prices.

We had Oyster Rockefeller for appetizer, followed by Caesar Salad. Dowie ordered Gamberoni for her main course, a pasta dish cooked in olive oil, garlic and shrimps. Myen had the rich Pasta Ysabel---fettucini with seafood, cream and cheese. While I ordered Lapu-Lapu Al Graten, fish cooked in red wine, cheese and tomatoes.

Dowie's Gamberoni

Pasta Ysabel

Lapu-Lapu Al Graten

The romantic ambiance is still there but the place is no longer in its top condition as I remember it. The interior looks dusty in natural light. As Margaux Salcedo puts it…”flowers under the awning look like they had a hangover from the previous night’s wedding…”
mi amigas---Dowie and Myen

a big fish in a small pond

The good thing is, my lapu-lapu tasted good! Dowie and Myen agreed though that their pasta needed a bit of salt. They kept of adding parmesan cheese on their plates. Nonetheless, it was a satisfying lunch...peppered with girl-talk and laughter, and spiced with the warmth of friendship.

waiting for his date??
“Romance is in the details and sadly, Ysabel seems to be quite the neglected girl rather than an immortalized goddess. Nevertheless, her raw beauty continues to shine. Indeed, Café Ysabel’s immortality would be sealed if the restaurant would step up and manage to make it a place to fall in love in---and fall in love with---again.”


grumpyurbanslacker said...

this place looks quite good, judging from your pics!

pusa said...

hmmm i should go and try this place =) thanks for the tip

 gmirage said...

I agree the photos really look good. I think I'd like the pasta ysabel..yum! The place really looks hidden but great!

I also had here Shrimp pasta. Happy sunday!

 gmirage said...

I almost did not notice the last photo...could be waiting to spend a romantic meal with someone eh? ;-)

Sidney said...

A nice place,with or without date!

Unknown said...

True, Sidney! They also have great desserts, a friend told me. But we were too full to have dessert...maybe next time.:)

Unknown said...

My friend, Dowie, joked that the guy in the last photo was her blind date. :D

I love Shrimp Pasta, Gzel! There's a small restaurant in Greenbelt called Piadina...they have a great Pasta Scampi! Hay, sarap! :D

Unknown said...

Check it out, pusa, for your V-day date (wink)!

Unknown said...

Thank you, grumpyurbanslacker!