Tuesday, October 09, 2007
MANILA - SAGADA - BAGUIO - MANILA
(This is a series of posts regarding my recent trip to Sagada and Baguio. I've decided to do a little writing experiment as well: While the posts can be considered "stand-alone" articles, there is some narrative thread holding them together [at least, i hope so]. And i've decided to write the posts in reverse order, so this is the reason you are reading Part VIII first. Enjoy!)
FOREST HOUSE BISTRO & CAFE
I first ate at Forest House back in 2001, just a few months after it opened. I remember one of the owners, Ari Verzosa, chatting with us; if my memory serves me correctly, they used to rent this place to the mayor (or was it the vice-mayor or the congressman?), before deciding to kick him out and setting up a restaurant/cafe instead. As he said (or at least, what i vaguely recall him saying), it was time for their generation to show they could run a business and make money.
Since then, i've made it a point to go back here every time i'm at the City of Pines.
The food is above average, but not really spectacular (it won't make you go, "wow!"). For me, it's really the interiors which provide the charm of Forest House. It just feels so warm and cozy that after finishing your meal, you would prefer to just stay put, and tarry, and read their magazines, or exchange stories with your friends, or even just to be alone with your thoughts.
Close your eyes for a second, and suspending disbelief for a minute, you can easily imagine yourself transported to a winter ski resort, warming your hands in front of the fireplace while toasting marshmallows and chugging mugs of steaming Ghirardelli chocholate. . . okay, okay, i'm getting carried away, but you get the drift.
Today, i met up with S. for lunch before our 2PM bus back to Manila. Unfortunately, C. couldn't make it, as his lower back was acting up yet again. Poor guy, i guess his heavy backpack was just too much to bear, especially during that hike down the narrow mountain road to get to our Baguio-bound bus.
Check out the pics below:
The inviting exterior of Forest House.
Forest House is located quite near Nevada Square, a complex of bars/lounges/restos where most teen-agers seem to congregate on weekend nights. Between Nevada Square and Forest House are three dark, wooden, eerily-quiet houses (one of them is actually a hotel named Hotel Veneracion), which seem haunted. Scary, no?
Private table near the entrance.
Wooden high-beamed ceiling with comfy sofa and fireplace.
Thing is, i'm not sure the fireplace works, though. It could be props only. :-D
The bar area.
View from the inside.
Let's talk about the food for a minute. Forest House serves a very extensive array of steaks, soups, salads, meat/fish entrees and desserts. It can be quite difficult to decide what to order.
Below are some of the dishes we decided on:
Three-Cheese Spring Rolls (PHP215)
This dish was simply superb! Lightly fried, not greasy or oily at all. The cheese wasn't overpowering, and the dip proved a nice complement to balance the tartness of the cheese.
Forest House Lamb (PHP325)
I thought at first they had made a mistake, and given us a pork chop instead. At any rate, this was a tasty dish ("marinated in wasabi with garlic", as the menu says), and the lamb was tender.
Lamb Caldereta (PHP270)
S. felt that her entree was served rather cold, and i agree. It could have been a lot warmer. The lamb was tender, but unfortunately, the sauce a bit too spicy for both our tastes. And the staff interchanged our sidings: S. should have gotten the fries served with my lamb; and vice versa.
An average meal would cost something like PHP500 to PHP650 per person, with drinks. In my opinion, good value for money, taking into account the ambiance of the place.
Which means, S. is expected to make libre at Forest House next time i'm at her part of the world again!!!
(Forest House Bistro & Cafe is located along 16 Loakan Road, Baguio City. It opened a branch at Silver City Mall, Frontera Verde, Pasig City, Metro Manila earlier this year, said to be an exact replica of the Baguio original branch)