Everybody seems to be heading to BF Homes Parañaque these days, mostly because of a little reastaurant that’s being shared by word of mouth from one foodie friend to another. “Tito Chef,” we were told. “It’s just outside Tahanan Village. You have to try it.”
Tito Chef Restaurant and All Things Culinary (quite a mouthful, huh?) is a cozy little bistro sitting along President’s Ave, one of BF’s major thoroughfares. Helmed by Center for Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Menoy Gimenez, Tito Chef successfully combines elegance and warmth, creating a fine dining feel with a comfy, relaxing atmosphere that’s anything but intimidating.
Armed with hungry stomachs, we headed off to Tito Chef’s for a small birthday lunch. Fortunately for us, it was the middle of the week, so we didn’t have to worry about getting tables. It can get pretty full on weekends, we were told.
To start with, we got to try the Truffled Mushroom Soup Puree. The fancy schmancy sounding mushroom soup was indeed fancy, combining three kinds of mushroom before being finished off with the essence of truffle. It was a good start for the meal though I had to content myself with stealing spoonfuls off my mom’s soup bowl. This is what I get for not ordering a bowl for myself. Maybe next time.
We fared better with the Salmon Tartare. The serving was big enough to share and we had to ask for a crostini refill to finish the portion. The salmon was nice and fresh, dressed in a light sauce that heightened rather than hid the salmon’s flavor, then topped with bit of creme fraiche, caviar, dill and some snow pea sprouts. It was a light enough appetizer to not spoil our appetites as some are wont to do. Instead, it simply made us look forward to what else was to come.
Next came the parade of entrees. One by one, they came to the table, like a fashion show where we oohed and aahed at the arrival of each pretty plate. First was the Cedar Grilled Salmon — a salmon fillet that’s smoked over a small Cedar plank, served with salad and mashed potatoes with caviar on top. Lightly seasoned, the salmon tasted delicate. It’s not an adjective I use to describe salmon, but in this case it really was light with just a hint of salty-sweetness.
Barbecued Pork Spare Ribs also came to the table. Smoky, sticky, salty and sweet, it’s your classic barbecued pork spare ribs. Served with rice, coleslaw and a cucumber salad of sorts, it’s something that sticks to the ribs (pun not intended) and easily fills up hungry stomachs that demand appeasement.
A wonderful revelation was the Chicken Stew. You’d think that it’s a normal, homey dish, but it’s the entree that had me raving. This thick stew had multi-faceted flavors from the mirepoix, herbs and wine the chicken was probably stewed in. It’s the kind of stew you want to pour on a bowl of rice then just continuously spoon in your mouth.
Our last entree, mine, was the Osso Buco Milanese. I could talk about the tender veal hugging the bone. The hearty sauce imparting its rich flavors into the meat. The cheesy risotto that complemented each bite of meat. But no. Instead I choose to think about the buttery marrow. Delicately gooey, the act of poking through the bone to unearth the wonderful marrow is the thing I look forward to.
Despite the fine dining restaurant attentiveness of the servers, we felt comfortable enough to mooch food from each other’s plates. So, yeah. Forks and knives were flying all around as our collective vocabularies devolved into the simplest yet sincerest way to describe food, “Masarap!” (Delicious!)
You’d think we’d be done eating by then, right? Wrong. We still had room for dessert so we had a slice of Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, Strawberry Shortcake and Creme Caramel. It’s difficult to choose among the desserts, since they all brought something different to the table. But who has to choose when you’re among family and friends, right?
What made my birthday celebration even more special was the fact that we had our dog Cooper with us. I asked about their pet policy when I was making our lunch reservations and they were kind enough to find us an unobtrusive table indoors. I’m used to being relegated to outdoor seating when Cooper’s with us, so it was a pleasant surprise when they made arrangements to accommodate us indoors (in the air-conditioned section!).
With its great food, reasonable prices, attentive service and laid-back atmosphere, it’s easy to see why Tito Chef has a good fanbase and an even better word-of-mouth reputation. Whether you’re looking for a place to celebrate with your family, impress your clients over a power lunch, treat yourself to a blissfully relaxing solo meal, or surprise your special someone with an unplanned date, Tito Chef will surely hit the mark.