Marikina's Rustic Mornings perks up Holiday Inn Makati's Sunday brunch buffet

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2018 08:47 AM | Updated as of May 13 2018 08:53 AM

MANILA -- Foodies, especially those from the south of the metro, do not have to drive all the way to Marikina just to try the all-day breakfast offerings of Rustic Mornings by Isabelo.

This month, the Marikina restaurant's bestsellers will be offered as part of the Sunday brunch buffet of Holiday Inn & Suites Makati's Flavors Restaurant. 

Advertising executive-turned-chef/restaurateur Portia Baluyut, who opened Rustic Mornings in 2012, is only the second guest chef at Flavors Restaurant, after Pampanga's Dennis Lim, whose Denlim's Kitchen was featured last October.

"We’re honored to be invited and it’s also one way to reach out to the people from the south," Baluyut told ABS-CBN News. "I’m meeting them halfway."

Portia Baluyut poses beside the brunch buffet of Flavors Restaurant. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Even before taking up Holiday Inn's offer, Baluyut has already been slowly expanding Rustic Morning's footprint.

Indeed, she has come a long way since she started Isabelo Garden Restaurant in her family's home in Marikina back in 2009. Although she didn't have any formal culinary training, this reservations-only restaurant that served only pre-ordered dishes turned out to become a hit among foodies in the know.

Isabelo eventually evolved into Rustic Mornings, which has been named the top breakfast place in the metro in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by foodie app Looloo. 

Since it's known for its pancakes and waffles, Rustic Mornings came out with its own line of pancake mix, pancake syrup and Breakflast Blend coffee, which are being sold at the restaurant.

Rustic Mornings is famous for its pancakes and waffles. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Just recently, Baluyut debuted a new concept, Waffable, a food stall at the UP Town Center that sells waffles on a popsicle stick.

"In Rustic Mornings our waffles are served as breakfast. But in Waffable, it’s served as a snack. It’s something that you eat while walking," she explained.

Breakfast bestsellers

Sunday brunch guests at Holiday Inn get to try this novel way of enjoying waffles.

During the promotion's launch on May 6, the special Waffable station had the Churro Waffable with Bananas; and the Brownie Brittle Wafflable. Both come with butter cream and the delicious yema fudge. 

Almost right next to it is the pancake station featuring Rustic Morning’s Buttermilk Pancakes and its very own Classic Syrup. Guests can also choose from a variety of toppings including fresh mangoes, banana slices, strawberry cubes, blueberry Compote, and chocolate chips.

"We wanted to guest to experience what we’re known for like the pancakes, the waffles, and this is also how we execute our buffets when we celebrate our anniversary," Baluyut said.

Bacon Bar

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Acai Smoothie Bowl

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

French Toast Bake with Berry Cream

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Pinoy Burrito

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

Curry Kofta Balls

Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News

On order from the staff are the trendy smoothie bowls, which come in a variety of flavors like acai and peanut butter.

Baluyut noted that during weekends, their guests tend to indulge and would eat whatever they fancy. "But for my weekday crowd, parang hindi sila grabe kumain," she said. That's why she created a line of smoothie bowls for those who are watching their diet. 

But even those who are not that health-conscious would appreciate these smoothie bowls, which have a refreshing quality that's perfect for the summer.

Another hit during the launch was the Bacon Bar. While bacon is a staple at breakfast buffets in any hotel, Rustic Mornings' version is definitely a standout for its extra crispiness and cute presentation as they are placed in mason jars.

"There is a technique how to make that crispy," Baluyut teased. 

Other breakfast staples include hashbrowns, French toast, sausages and omelets.

Lunch specials

But Rustic Mornings isn't just about breakfast. Two of its dishes were also included in the entree section -- the crowd-favorite Curry Kofta Balls; and the Pinoy Burrito, which has tinapa flakes with garlic rice in a lumpia wrapper, then deep-fried and served with a cream sauce.

Baluyut shared the story behind this playful dish. According to her, she was told at the last minute that she would be doing a live cooking demo for a morning show the following day. "So I checked what’s in my fridge and see what I can make out of it," she recalled.

The result was the Pinoy Burrito, which proved to be a hit among the hosts who immediately placed their orders. That encouraged Baluyut to serve it at the restaurant.

These two dishes join Flavors' well-curated buffet spread, which includes a fresh seafood station, where you can have shrimps, crabs and shellfish cooked the way you like it; and the carving station, which on that day had lechon belly and Angus roast beef.

There are also the usual salad, appetizer and dessert stations for a complete Sunday brunch experience.

Expansion plans

So what's next for Rustic Mornings after this promotion?

Baluyut admitted that she has been getting offers from the major malls to open Rustic Mornings.

"But once kasi you go to Rustic Mornings, it is very hard to replicate the ambience because it’s our home, it’s in a garden, and it’s different. But, of course, I’m having thoughts if it’s already the right time (to expand)," she said. 

But she is not discounting the possibility of opening a branch. "Nakikita ko rin naman din 'yon. I want in the south area; at least dalawang dulo kami," she said, adding that she wants it to be also in a house and not in a mall. 

"Iba pa rin kasi you’re surrounded by greens," she noted.

In the meantime, she is focusing on growing her Waffable business. "I plan to have that in every mall," she said.

(Sunday Brunch is served at Holiday Inn & Suites Makati's Flavors Restaurant from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for P1,900 nett. For the month of May, the Sunday brunch includes complimentary sparkling, white and red wine from Philippine Wine Merchants.)