Celebrate Valentine Day in Manila
Few things are more romantic than trying something new with your loved one. It’s also one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship. For two and a half years, The BF and I have been going on food adventure after food adventure together, and we’ve shared a lot of laughs, rants, stories and bloopers that have helped form our relationship into what it is now. We’ve not only grown even more head-over-heels in love with each other, we’ve also managed to discover some wonderful – and definitely memorable – finds along the way. Now that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I figured it’s time that I compiled them and shared them with you.
1. The Goose Station
Located in a less-explored area of the Bonifacio Global City, this restaurant is a place you don’t really just walk in on or stumble upon. It’s a destination in itself. A food-lovers’ haven, their Signature Degustation Menu is rather pricey (at PHP 2500 per person), but is worth every centavo. We were very satisfied not just with our meal, but with the whole experience.
2. Casa Armas, Malate
Stepping into Casa Armas is like stepping into a pub in the Spanish era, if there ever were such a thing. It’s a small place, but it has served the biggest people, figuratively speaking – former presidents, prominent politicians, and celebrities included. It has the best paella I’ve tasted (though closely followed by La Scale Cafe), and though it’s generally thought to be an expensive restaurant, their tapas are really value-for-money – for as low as PHP 25 pesos each!
3. The Old Swiss Inn
This is a wonderfully-kept secret of Manila. Tucked away in the perimeter of Paco Park, inside a quaint inn called The Garden Plaza Hotel, it serves delectable Swiss fare with a home-cooked feel. It’s in between casual and dressy – it’s a place you would probably want to wear a dainty dress in. We greatly enjoyed their Zurich Geschnetzeltes, and absolutely loved their Toblerone Chocolate Fondue! The BEST fondue, ever, in my opinion. Yup, better than Heat’s or Spiral’s!
4. My Mother’s Garden
I couldn’t believe there existed a place like this at the heart of Pasay City. Designer Malu Veloso, together with her daughter Letlet, transformed her old family home into a private dining venue. The house was designed by her father, no less than the National Artist for Architecture Pablo Antonio, and the garden was the fruit of years and years of her mother’s love and labor. It’s a really lovely and serene place. And the food was delicious!
5. Ristorante delle Mitre, Intramuros
If you’re looking for a place that’s romantic, you can’t go wrong with Intramuros. With its cobblestone streets and old-world churches and structures, there’s just something so innately charming about it. Ristorante delle Mitre is one of the newest restaurants in the area, having opened only last year. We were lucky to have been one of its first few customers – we were there two weeks after it was opened to the public! The ambience was quite nice, as it’s right in front of the San Agustin Church.
It’s one of the few fine-dining restaurants in the Loyola Heights area. Located along Esteban Abada, the street right next to Katipunan Ave., it’s another hidden foodies’ haven. Chef Nino Laus is behind this culinary endeavor, and he uses his training in Asian and French cuisine to produce French-Asian masterpieces for his discerning clientele’s appreciation. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here, and the place had a great ambience, too – with its indoor Koi pond and all.
7. Laya, Antipolo
They’re one of the pioneers of the “personal dining” concept, and also the first restaurant we’ve tried with a set six-course menu. Our wonderful experience at Laya was what made me fall in love with set menus! Now I jump at the chance to try every set menu ever offered. Haha. The place is so beautiful, and the view is fantastic. Owners Irene and Rick Gurango were very warm and friendly.
8. Vieux Chalet, Antipolo
Deep within Antipolo City, Vieux Chalet Swiss Restaurant was definitely worth the trip! The food was amazing, especially the Lamb Shoulder with Sauce Cafe de Paris. We also loved their homemade ice cream. The view of the Manila skyline was a hefty bonus!
9. Sonya’s Garden, Tagaytay
Last but not the least is this famous restaurant-cum-bed and breakfast. Tagaytay in itself is a romantic place, in my opinion, and Sonya’s Garden just quadruples the ambience. The place looks magical at night, and the food is very pleasing. Be prepared for a meal that’s 90% greens and fruits – it tastes marvelous.