Monday, May 11, 2015

DINING | My Mother's Garden: Inside the home of a national artist

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The design of this tropical home reminds me of old movies from the glory days of Philippine cinema.

This is a long overdue post but still, allow me.

Last March while staycationing at the wonderful The Henry Hotel Manila, we thought of venturing out of the compound for dinner on one occasion. We weren't sure where to go until Kwittiegirl stumbled upon an interesting place called My Mother's Garden online. Perfect, I thought, because it wasn't far from our hotel.

My Mother's Garden is not exactly a restaurant per se but it is a restaurant nonetheless. Confused? It's actually a house -- the home of National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio, Sr. no less. Antonio was regarded as a pioneer of modern Philippine architecture during his time and is responsible for designing, among several other buildings, the Manila Polo Club and the main building of the Far Eastern University.

The house
Back to this house, which was built in 1948, was designed as a stylized Filipino tropical home. It's a bungalow with adobe columns and walls, a wooden ceiling, and cleverly slanted windows covered only by screens. It's a brilliant fusion of indoor and outdoor where the gardens outside seem like part of the house. It may look dated but it's a legacy that thankfully is still well and alive to this day.

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I'm glad Pablo Antonio's family is keeping his legacy alive.

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Feel at home while you wait for dinner to be served.

I consider myself privileged because, thankfully, Antonio's family have allowed us inside this architectural treasure by opening it up as a restaurant. I say it's not a restaurant per se because it's still a home any which way you look at it, except that they serve lunch and dinner here. Hence, you'll find proper dining tables interspersed among the rattan living room furniture.

Tables are also set up outdoors in the garden. It is "My Mother's Garden" after all. Unfortunately we came for dinner, so I was left with very little appreciation of the actual garden. Next time I better book lunch instead.

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The structured wooden ceiling is just beautiful, don't you agree?

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One of them dining tables waiting for diners.

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The house also features a small koi pond.

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Nice recessed details added to the adobe walls.

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It's an old house, so even the wall fan is old. But when was the last time you've seen something like this? I'm reminded of something similar from Balay Negrense, though.

The food
Ah, the food. I almost forgot about it. We came here for the food after all. Or did we really?

Just to get things clear, there is no menu that you can peruse here at My Mother's Garden. Instead, they serve a set meal in fairly abundant quantities. For Php 1,000 per head we got bread and butter; salad greens with two choices of dressing; two different bowls of pasta noodles that came with two sauce options (black olive and chorizo); red and white rice; roast chicken with mustard; grilled pork; prawns cooked with garlic, onions and cherry tomatoes; and dessert. We were also served this refreshing ginger concoction with seemingly endless refills, and coffee.

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Fresh salad greens and bread to start our meal.

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The whole spread. I seriously believe the Php 1,000 was fairly reasonable.

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I believe this roast chicken is a specialty of the house but I liked the prawns a lot more.

The food was good. I had several small helpings of pasta, alternating between the olive and chorizo sauces. The roast chicken was tender and tasty but it was the prawn dish that I enjoyed more. I'll have to admit that when dessert came I was underwhelmed with the way those tarts and what have you looked -- until I took a bite. Everything was delicious.

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Dessert doesn't look much but they're deceptively good.

Do remember that you need to call in advance, though, as it's not a traditional restaurant where you can just show up anytime.

In hindsight
Our experience at My Mother's Garden sure was a pleasant one. That it's set in a National Artist's home is already a big plus, but because it's literally a home it never feels restricted and customers can just sit back and relax. I really liked the setup. More so, the food is good; simple and unassuming but definitely good. That said, this "restaurant" is worth a try.

This is the tricky part because both Waze and Google Maps messed up the directions. I guess someone must have pinned the wrong location or something.

My Mother's Garden is located at 2650 Zamora Street in Pasay City. The place is marked by a brown gate and tall concrete fences with lots of plants. I suggest you just call them in case those apps mislead you anyhow.

For inquiries and reservations, call +632-831-8407 or +632-232-4573.

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