Last week I received a text from my friend Deb who invited me and my US based cousin, Stanley for dinner with some of his HS classmates. Since it was in a restaurant that was very near my house I quickly said yes. But then I hardly turn down dinner invitations – far or near.
I never expected to find a family home turned into a restaurant in the middle of Little Baguio in San Juan. Most of the house/restaurants are located in the Tomas Morato area in Quezon City. (Romulo Cafe, Bagoong Club, Taste of L.A., Napa)
This was the outdoor seating area.
The menu had mostly Filipino dishes with some pasta and international favorites. I didn’t expect to see an appetizer like brie. I wanted to try the nachos but Deb decided this would suit our older dining mates better.
It was just a store bought brie warmed in the oven and topped with honey, dried raisins, cranberries, mango and walnuts. What made it stand out was a spoonful of pesto. I’ve never tried the combination of pesto and honey and I must say it works! It was a really good starter. I just wish they provided more crostini since it wasn’t enough.
honey brie with crostini P250
The gambas didn’t look like the typical gambas al ajillo since this version had lots of tomato sauce but once I tasted it I was instantly enamored. I simply loved the spicy sauce that I used the crostini above to mop up the yummy sauce. This would be perfect on pasta or eaten with lots of rice. With the crostini gone I proceeded to spoon the sauce into my mouth directly.
gambas al ajillo P330
The next three dishes are labelled Maimee’s Comfort food in the menu and I agree 100%. These dishes are meant to be shared and are on the small side. For our group of 6 guys and 2 gals we ordered 2 of each and there were NO LEFTOVERS!
I don’t normally order beef caldereta in restaurants since it’s a common dish to make at home but this version was SO MUCH better than any caldereta I’ve ever tried. The beef was tender but the real star was the mildly spicy rich sauce that seemed to have been simmering for hours. The flavors were bold and very rich. Rice was essential for this dish. “Sauce pa lang ulam na.” This is a MUST order.
spicy beef caldereta P350
This version did not disappoint. The sauce was thickened with ground rice and the sauce was very nutty without being overwhelming. It had just the perfect amount of sweetness too. I didn’t even need any bagoong to eat the ox tail and vegetables. I’m ashamed to admit I slurped the sauce too. That’s what happens when I don’t eat rice.
I forgot how many rice we ordered and to think half of the group TRIED not to eat rice.
The next three dishes are normally good for one and served with herb rice and a side dish but since we ate everything family style they served rice on the side.
I was already so full when the boneless short ribs came out. I still tried a small piece and knew Maimee had another winner. Tender beef marinated in a Korean flavor marinade with some tendon and bits of fat was divine. It would make for a good pulutan (food eaten with beer or alcohol) too.
boneless barbeque short ribs P390
The dish that I liked least was the Butcher’s log or embotido but the others liked it specially when they learned the pork roll contained liver, mushroom and cheese and was wrapped in bacon.
butcher’s log P280
While I loved the food at Maimee’s I wasn’t happy with the two desserts we ordered. While the apple crumble was served was the apples and topping were both soggy and limp as if it were microwaved.
apple crumble with vanilla ice cream P120
The cheesecake was the no-bake gelatin kind which I can’t stand. I wish they served Filipino desserts instead like turon a la mode or even simple but well made leche flan. We only ordered one each and they more than half remained on the table.
blueberry cheesecake P90
One thing I really loved were the sauces of the viands specially from the gambas, caldereta and kare kare. If only I let myself eat rice I would have easily eaten 3 cups instead of 3 spoonfuls. I’m that type of rice eater, I need sauce to eat rice. I can’t eat rice with fried chicken, steak or barbecue or any viand without sauce for that matter. So you can just imagine how tempting rice was during our meal.
To my balikbayan friends and cousins I’m taking you here!!!!
Maimee’s Garden Cafe
20 E. Jacinto St., Little Baguio,
San Juan Metro Manila
Lunch 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Dinner 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Closed on Mondays
These directions from Anton really helped me find the place easily.
From Greenhills Shopping Center, drive along Wilson St. and turn right into Jose Abad Santos (with Alex III as the landmark). After three blocks, turn right into V. Ibanez St. (after Ristras and Little Store). Turn right into E. Jacinto (which is the second corner after Barasoain St.).