so in 27 years, we had our first date last friday, february 26, in a quaint mixed Filipino, mediterranean and 'gypsy-like' at Bgy. Kapitolyo in Pasig named Cafe Juanita. i called it gypsy-like because of the loud colors (magenta, red orange, shimmering browns), chandeliers decorated with bangles, rhinestones and white lace. yet the waiters were dressed in white and black, with matching white aprons suggesting that they are waiter-cooks; cooking as well as serving meals in-situ. the resto looks like an old filipino house, made of wood, not very spacious, made even cramped by the flowing mass of curtained chandeliers, old antique decorations, large mirrors on the side. at the center is a piano played on by an elder gentleman playing songs from the 1950s to the 1960s. but the ambiance said it all. you enter Cafe Juanita and you don't know what to expect as its decorations don't match. it confuses you at first but that's the mystique in it.
Every table is topped by a lamp decorated eclectically. See ours with red orange furls, the bulb capped by a tuft of green. The purpose though is found below. Every lamp is attached with a bell, jingled to call the attention of the waiter. Nice touch.
ShadowMan thought of the Cafe because of its famous paella, a dish i've been longing to eat while still in perth. but less than a week before i was to arrive, he learned that no, the paella is no longer being served and yes, the paella cook has been gone for sometime now. but still, we agreed to push through with our date, our first date, paella or no paella. we agreed to savor the food, choosing fish and veggie dishes on the menu because it was a friday and i am abstaining from meat every friday now that it's Lent. i would say, the food and the service were worth it. we were treated with a four-course meal starting with the catfish and mango salad for appetizer, the tom-yum soup to perk our taste buds up, the pinoy ratatoy (ratatouille pinoy-style), and iloilo sea bass (first disappointing because of the small serving but so mouth-watering we could not help but forgive). compliments to the cook, and to the fine service. they had the initiative to ask whether we were prepared to take the main course already after serving the appetizer and the soup which to me means, patience and a lot of respect for their guests.
Crispy catfish meat arrayed over sliced fresh green mangoes marinated with a little vinegar and onions.
Thai tom-yum soup. This picture does not give justice to the dish as I forgot to take the pic before the waiter served it in these cute black bowls. Very thoughtful service. Before serving the soup, a small portion of it is served for tasting, especially whether the sourness and spiciness is just up to the customer's liking. I find that a very sweet thoughtful gesture.
My favorite. Pinoy ratatoy made with fried eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, coriander and dilis. Enough to make me go back.
The sea bass has an exotic mediterranean taste, topped with black bean sauce and olives. ShadowMan liked the mashed potatoes as well.
but then, the food is second-rate next to the presence of this loving man right in front of me whose picture i could not show for copyright and privacy purposes he he (just like my field data, another he he). we were both in brown. a happy couple in brown, him in matching brown polo shirt and me with my brown blouse with crocheted chest trimmings. you don't care much about the world when you're in love. so here we are. happily enjoying the food but more happy because we are savoring it in the delight of one another. we waited so long for this moment to come, and it was perfect. like our long journey back to each other. we were in a cafe which was exploding in color, out of this world but homey, filled with a lot of history, but never pretentious. what you see is what you get. but you get so much more. because in a confusing mixed-up exterior lies classic love not just of the food, but also of the people about to enjoy it. it is classic love - just simply true, happy and bursting with life. just like the love i'm sharing with his man in brown in front of me. as he decides over his second serving of the sea bass, gives me the bigger, fleshier part and even serves me rice. i melt as i eat.