Did I mention that I’m a foodie? 🙂 Okay, okay, I’m only “technically” a foodie :p
One of the things the H and I love doing together is trying out new restaurants in the city. H goes for the food, while I am strictly an ambience kind of gal. Not that I don’t appreciate good cooking and great flavors, but being a very visual person, I get an indescribable high when I’m in a restaurant that has well-designed interiors. For me, the food can be totally mediocre, as long as the restaurant looks aesthetically pleasing.
Another thing I love is great conversations with friends–especially those I haven’t seen in a gajillion years! I feel a huge amount of comfort hanging out with the people I grew up with, reminiscing over adolescent memories, catching up on the goings on in our lives. Sadly, I don’t get to do this very often, especially now that the H and I have A. But the very few times that the opportunity comes our way, we make it a point to pencil it into our plans because not only is it relaxing and fun, but it also keeps us sane (Haha! Admit it moms and dads, you know what I’m talking about :p).
So last Saturday, after weeks of planning and a string of FB messages, that is precisely what the H and I did. We made our way to the newly opened 1521 restaurant at Burgos Circle, and had dinner with 10 of my oldest friends (note: not oldest in age, but oldest in the amount of years I’ve known them). Gosh, I cannot remember the last occasion I laughed so hard! Definitely some good times 🙂
Much has changed since my friends and I saw each other last. Several of us have kids already, some are still single. Some lost a lot of weight, others gained a couple of pounds. Some have moved up in their professional lives, others have totally shunned the corporate world and are taking a break, yet are the happiest they’ve ever been in their lives.
It’s funny how you can not see someone for so long, yet when you see each other you can totally pick up where you left off. When I’m with my friends, that’s exactly how I feel. It’s like we just saw each other yesterday. While many things have definitely changed, somehow, we are also still very much the same 🙂 As I said previously, I find that extremely comforting 🙂
Anyway, back to 1521. The restaurant had pretty decent Filipino-inspired decor. The walls were done in drawn mural style, depicting scenes of Filipino life during Spanish times (by the way, just a little bit of trivia: 1521 was the year the Spaniards first landed on Philippine soil, marking the beginning of their 400-year rule). There were interesting touches of wood carvings on the walls, and on the furniture, and I love how they incorporated the capiz windows into the wall design.
While the restaurant looked pleasing enough, I think the owners could have pushed the envelope a little bit more in terms of design. I mean there are so many native materials that can be used to decorate a space and to make it look interesting and unique. Sadly, it seems that it is usually the case that Filipino restaurateurs spend more on their food, and make design their last priority. In fairness to 1521, though, the restaurant was clean (and so was the unisex bathroom, except for a funky smell coming from the men’s urinal :o), and according to my friend, it had a very “relaxed and homey” atmosphere.
Moving on to the food, we were able to order a couple of dishes from the menu (another good thing about eating with a group is that you get to sample more of the restaurant’s offerings). For appetizers, we had the Calamari ng Tamad and No-See Sisig (did I mention that I just love the way they named their food? :)) The dishes were just “okay”, nothing to really rave about. For our mains, we had Pochero ni Tankeko (a house specialty, and highly recommended by the staff), 1521 Sinigang na Baboy, Pinakbet-Ter than Best, and Almusal ng Dagupena (1521’s version of Boneless Bangus).
I have to say that among the ones we ordered, I liked the Sinigang na Baboy the best. It had the right amount of sourness to it, and the lightly fried, crispy pork belly in the soup was super winner!!! Yummy!!! The soup also had a fair amount of vegetables in it, so I got my healthy fix as well :).
The Pochero was a bit disappointing, to be honest. I didn’t expect it to be sweet, but it was. The meat was also very soft, to the point that it was almost “durog”. I also felt that the meat was drowning in too much sauce. Both the Pinakbet and Bangus were tasty, but again, nothing to get too excited about.
The desserts were very good, though. But because 1521 is still in its “soft opening” mode, not all were available. We opted for the Leche Flan ala Cosico, and sticky rice with mango. The Leche Flan was sweetened just right, and the lemon rind on top was a totally nice complement. The sticky rice gets plus points for presentation, and was also just decadent enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Too bad there weren’t enough mangoes to go with the sticky rice, though. The owners should definitely re-think the portions of this dessert 🙂
Sadly, before I had time to take pictures of our desserts, they were gone 😦
All in all, I’d say we had a very good dining experience at 1521, and I would probably go back to sample the rest of their dishes. What made the experience even more enjoyable for me was the attentive and quick service of the waitstaff, and ofcourse, the company of my wonderful friends.
I sure hope it won’t take another year or so for the next get-together :p