It was the fourth of the month last Friday and hubby and I thought it will be nice to celebrate our monthsary in a new ‘find’. We drove around Tomas Morato area and passed by Chef’s Bistro but we didn’t know where to park (its sidewalk is full of parked vehicles already) so we continued on toward the other side streets.
We ended up in Scout Fuentebella and there we saw, just several meters away from Tomas Morato, what appears to be a cozy restaurant with a simple yet catchy name, “Tiago” and underneath it, a tagline that says, “Progressive Filipino Cuisine.” Our curiosity was ignited but, admittedly, we hesitated a bit about trying it out. For one, JR asked me, “Do you think this is related to the restaurant, “Elias?” And that got me a little anxious, too, because while some of the food in Elias could probably be good, most of what we have already tried there thus far were just “so-so.” You know. Those type of food that you cannot even remember anymore after a day or two.
Of course, those who know much of Philippine history and Jose Rizal know that like Elias, there is a character in Jose Rizal’s Noli me Tangere named “Kapitan Tiago.”And that is why we hesitated about trying this Tiago. We somehow surmised that Tiago and Elias would have the same owners, ergo, the same quality of food. (I was also thinking to myself that Kapitan Tiago’s character in the novel is not among the more virtuous and untarnished ones and I believe Jose Rizal intended to give him such a persona to show very important parallelisms.)
However, even with these ‘silly’ reasons for our hesitation, curiosity got the better of us. We also believe in giving start-ups and “new kids on the block” a chance because we also plan to build our own cafe-restaurant in the future. After all, you cannot discover new treasures if you never give new things a try. We realized it was a good decision because the food selections in Tiago, living up to its unique and provocative tagline, are appealing to the taste and satisfying. I used the word ‘appealing’ because I always consider good food as something that always connects to the person who is eating it.
The food in Tiago, at least those that we have tried, ‘connected’ to us in a delightful and satisfying way. (New readers should know that I am happily married to a chef-in-progress and so it is not that easy to please my taste buds.) 🙂 We especially liked their Relyenong Pusit (stuffed squid in ground pork and shrimp), priced at P275.00. JR is still curious as to how the sauce was made. It is thick but with just the right texture and creaminess. The squid was cooked so well that it is not ‘rubbery’. The stuffing is perfectly cocooned, giving the squid dish its very comforting taste. It tasted so ‘new’ but it also somehow reminded me of some of my most favorite comfort food. I am very particular with squid dishes so this easily passed my ‘stringent’ standards.
Their version of Pinakbet (called Pinakbet Warm Salad, priced at P175.00) also appealed to me because I don’t like too much saltiness in my food. The chef did not go over-board on the bagoong (shrimp paste) so it was just perfect and more appetizing with its creative use of dilis (dried long-jawed anchovy fish) as ‘toppings’. It also looks nice in pictures! (See an ‘evidence’ below.)
Not to be outdone, their Tinapa Rice (fried rice with smoked fish), priced at P145.00, is also delicious. Of course, food critics might say that one can never go wrong with tinapa rice because smoked fish is naturally tasty but Tiago’s version seems prepared with utmost care because it is not too salty and the taste of tinapa is not overpowering.
One thing that we also like about Tiago is that their menu selection is not very long. Of course, we do patronize good restaurants with, incidentally, long list of menu but we think that the best approach to nurturing your clients and staying long in the industry is to focus on food that you are very good at. You can always develop new dishes along the way or ‘improvise’ on your current ones.
Finally, we commend the service of the staff who are friendly and attentive. (Just a note that this statement must be validated by future visits because we arrived at the place in the “quiet hours” after lunch so the staff did not have much clients to attend to.)
Tiago has certainly made our monthsary lunch (very late lunch!) enjoyable and we thank Tiago’s owners and kitchen team for giving Filipino food lovers another reason to smile about. Tiago encourages us to be proud of our roots and heritage and we congratulate the owners for taking a new path in Filipino cuisine. Tiago certainly dares us to become more inventive, unique, and progressive.
[meilBOX is not strictly a food blog but being married to someone who enjoys cooking (and is good at it!) motivates me to write about food and restaurants. Just a note that when I write about restaurants, hubby and I do pay for our meals and we also never introduce ourselves to the chefs, staff, or owners. That way, we can be sure that my posts will be credible and unbiased.]
TIAGO | Progressive Filipino Cuisine
85 Scout Fuentebella St., Brgy. Sacred Heart, Quezon City (near Tomas Morato) | Tel. (02) 413 0616 | Open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 11:00 am to 1:00 am | Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tiagocuisine/info
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