Friday, November 19, 2010


The name of the restaurant is Uno, and it's on a tiny side street off Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. We had dinner there on 29 September 2010. It was one of my most memorable meals this year, and I'll tell you why.

We chose Uno because it's not too far from everyone. Bry the Shrinking Man lived the farthest away, but it didn't really matter where we decided to have dinner-- he would always be late.

It took just a ten-minute drive to get there. Immediately, we were able to find a parking spot. The outside was nondescript, but the interiors were blindingly plain white. It had a warehouse or bodega kind of vibe, but with nice china and silver set on white (of course) tablecloths. I loved it. Good start for the evening.

And then the menu made everyone cross-eyed.

Letters too close together?
No kidding. I mean, look at it. There's something wrong, right? It's not just us. Is it because they wanted to save paper and use only one page? Personally, I think that the font size that they used was just too big. Which makes it sort of ironic.

Of all the things we ate that night-- and there were seven of us-- I have only two photos. Yez, we had starters, mains and desserts. Only two photos.

Grilled Greenland halibut with braised leeks, capers and Dijon mustard sauce.

Oven-baked pork tenderloin adobado with braised cabbage and apples.

I was talking too much, and people were eating too fast. The lighting was not ideal. The matters we were discussing were just too riveting. At least, that's how I explained the lack of pictures. But now that I've had time to really think, this is what I think:

I was not inspired to take pictures. Because the food was so damned ugly.

It was so brazenly unpretty that it's nearly arrogant. It's like Chef-owner Mari Relucio was saying, I'm a f*@#ing good cook and I don't need any of that fancy presentation nonsense. Here it is, and slaps the plate down on the table. It's a challenge to the diner, and had better be backed up by good food.

The food was good. We were happy.

It's rustic French farmhouse cooking served in an almost-too-severe and faintly clinical setting... if the farmhouse were located near BOTH the French-German and French-Italian borders and had a Filipina cook who used to work in Singapore. The flavors were very robust, and the meats were cooked correctly. Both the fish and pork were very tender and moist. I was able to taste the rack of lamb dish-- excellent lamb-y flavor without the gaminess. As well as the beef strip steak which was a little tough, as can be expected from a strip steak, but had a nice umami taste.

And the vegetables! There's nothing uglier than braised vegetables, but they tasted oh-so-good, and were not mushy at all.

The desserts were unremarkable, and strangely, I felt that the chef just didn't care if anyone liked them or not. Take it or leave it. A very good reason to order desserts, though, was this little veranda on the second floor. Have a cup of coffee, some cake and a smoke.

Smoking area overlooking Tomas Morato.

Contrary to the food's somewhat aggressive "I-taste-good-what's-it-to-you-how-I-look" appearance, the service was quite solicitous.

Verdict: We gotta go back, guys. I need to take more pictures. And they change the menu every quarter, I heard. I really like this place!

Uno Restaurant at 195 Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Fuentabella Street, Quezon City. Contact +63.2.3740774.

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