MANILA -- Talisay Garden Café, already earning rave reviews for its food and unique ambience, is now ready to host parties and events with the unveiling of its new Garden Pavilion.
The 80-seat pavilion is located at the back of the restaurant and offers a separate intimate space for private gatherings, meetings, and parties. The event spaces were built around a tree in the garden so the space feels organic and adheres to the nature and garden theme of the restaurant
Celebrity chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou mans the kitchen of the restaurant. He affectionately calls Talisay a “fortunate accident.” His brother came home from Germany on an extended sabbatical and the two thought about putting up something together.
"This started out as a small business. Ideas ranged from a small carinderia to a private dining setup, but definitely not a fine dining Filipino restaurant," Sarthou said.
Things really fell into place when the brothers were scouting for a location and stumbled upon the property in UP village where the restaurant is now. And thus Talisay Garden Café was born.
The name Talisay resonates with the brothers as they pay homage to their Cebuano roots. Right outside the restaurant in the parking lot is a talisay tree.
The Sarthous didn’t do much modifications to the space, just opting to give the house a fresh coat of paint. The house itself is reminiscent of 1960s style architecture with a large sala where the main dining room is now, and an elevated portion where the bedrooms would have been, now converted into another area that can be closed off for private events.
The garden outside is a secluded oasis of green where one can just stay to enjoy the peace and quiet. One would expect to find more seats and tables here, but Sarthou wisely opted to keep the garden as is for the enjoyment of Talisay’s guests.
The chef has benefitted greatly from his celebrity status and the restaurants he has worked with. Past customers have flocked to Talisay and have spread the news through word-of-mouth and social media.
He describes the food as traditional Filipino without the cliché must-haves. For instance, you won’t find sisig, crispy pata or kare-kare here.
“It's not meant to be that kind of place. It’s supposed to be special. Special in the sense if you can't get it elsewhere, we don't want to compete head-on because we’d be redundant,” explained Sarthou, adding that he wanted to contribute to Maginhawa’s culinary landscape by offering something new.
For the chef, who has all but given up on his dream of having a restaurant that is totally his own, Talisay was a godsend. While the work is demanding, he has full creative culinary control over his kitchen where everything is made from scratch. He revels in the luxury of being able to do things his own way, including being able to slow -cook some dishes for eight hours and bake bread in Talisay’s very own bakery at the back of the converted house.
Talisay has given new life to Chef Tatung, and that new energy shines through the food he puts on the table.
Here's what you can expect to order at Talisay:
A trio of Lumpiang Ubod with peanut sauce comes with ube, pandan, and tegular lumpia wrapper.
Talisay’s version of Ceasar’s Salad has bits of kesong puti and croutons made from Talisay’s bakery.
Talisay’s take on Kilawing Tanigue is sweeter than other versions with just a hint of sourness and spice.
The love of simple food shines through in the steamed pampano simply plated in coconut cream and tomatoes.
Chef Tatung’s paella was sorely missed when Agos closed in SM Mall of Asia. It’s back in Talisay, more flavorful than ever.
This palabok is jet black instead of the usual atchuete orange. The sauce is made of tangy squid ink giving it a familiar, yet slightly different flavor.
They don’t hold back the heat on this one. Talisay’s Kalderetang Kambing is spicy!
Talisay’s Balbacua is stewed for 8 hours giving it a tender gooey texture. This deep rich dish is a crowd favorite.
Chef Tatung’s Lengua, slowly cooked in white wine until soft and tender, is one of the stars of the menu.
Chef Tatung makes and cures their own hamon. If you’ve never had ham made from scratch in-house, this doesn’t need any preservative so the meat flavor is kept clean and tasty.
While there is no sisig in Talisay, there is dinakdakan. It’s pork on pork as Chef Tatung places a pork chop on top of chopped pig face and brain are mixed in with labuyo, liver and onions. The dinakdakan could be used as a sauce for the pork chop.
Have coffee with Talisay’s cakes. Featured here are the cassava cake, the chiffon brulee, and the chocolate Chocnut cake with yema
Talisay Garden Café can be found at 44 Maginhawa St, UP Village Quezon City. Restaurant hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.