Hubby bought a Deal Grocer coupon for La Cocina de Tita Moning a few months back. Since it was expiring last Feb. 4, we decided to use it the same day. The coupon was worth PHP2500 for PHP5000 worth at the said restaurant. We had 3 sets of menu to choose from. Hubby chose the menu with Lengua and Paella in it as entrees and Gambas Al Ajillo for appetizer. however, we were served a different menu. Good thing, it was a better set!
Our reservations were for 730PM. Although it was nearby, we decided to leave the house a little early (630PM) as the Bourne Legacy was being shot outside our area.
We arrived at exactly 730PM. The restaurant or the house is inside the Malacanang Complex along the San Rafael street. It was like being transported to centuries back. The 2 side by side houses were reminiscent of the houses that a gobernador-general during the Spanish times would be housed in. We later found out that the houses were owned by the siblings.
When we arrived, we were escorted to a patio. We were served a thirst quenching lemongrass tea and quezo de bola cheese bread. Being really hungry, we quickly consumed both.
We were then ushered by our guide for a tour of the house. The 3 houses along San Rafael were owned by the Valdes-Prieto-Legarda clan. The house we were in is known as the Legarda house and was built in 1937. It was said to be one of the first “art deco” houses built in Manila. The house where we were at is owned by Dr. Alejandro Legarda and hi wife Ramona or otherwise known as Tita Moning. They lived with their four children, who are all doctors,under this roof.
The house has been well preserved. Being an avid photographer, Dr. alejandrino’s family photos are scattered all over the house.
The initial room we visited was the library. Interesting to note the books and the antique furniture that lined the book shelf of the Doctor’s library.
A Zalameda art work to the left is highlighted on top of the console.The Zalameda painting was titled ‘Sailboats’ and was said to be worth millions now. Sadly, I noticed some slight damages to the painting.
The next rooms on the left is the Doctor’s clinic. It looked eerily clean. Thought it reminded me of a scene in one of those horror or suspense movies (Shutter Island?). The old X-ray machine is still there and the skeletal practice cadaver is still standing. Dr. Legarda was an OB Gyne by profession. It was told that one of his sons was born in this clinic.
The Doctor was an avid photographer and had quite a collection of old cameras.
After the first floor tour, we were ushered upstairs. Of course, we had to have our pictures taken –
On the 2nd floor is the living room. The centerpiece of the living room is a large painting made by National Artist Felix Hidalgo. Dated in 1901 in Paris, this is definitely a masterpiece. It was entitled “La Inocencia” and is said to be a portrait of the artist’s mistress.
Another highlight of the living room is a small painting of a woman in black dress by National Artist Juan Luna.
The walls are all lined with family portraits and pictures. Looked like a house well-lived.
The doctor was also an avid collector of old radios and was using it to communicate with friends abroad. A room to the right showcased his collection of antique radio equipment.
Tita Moning, on the other hand, loved doing paper mâché.
The other rooms showcased his daughter’s items. The room looked chabby chic. The 2 daughters were ballerinas when they were young.
After the tour, we were a bit famished and a bit excited as to what to expect. We were given a seat beside the La Inocencia painting. The table was well arranged and decorated. This is a nice pre-Valentine’s dinner. Its been quite awhile since hubby and I really had a nice formal dinner together.
We were initially served bread. At the center of the table is a condiment known as “Salsa Monja.” This was definitely a palette cleanser. It was a combination of small onions and olives pickled in a vinaigrette sauce that made everything definitely a little more delicious.
ON THE TABLE
Trio of Three La Cocina Salads: Grilled eggplant salad with Homemade Vinaigrette and salted duck eggs, Papaya salad with Jamon Serrano, Fresh Basil, Carabao Cheese and Honey Calamansi Vinaigrette, and lastly, the Fresh Kangkong Salad.
I liked the first 2 salads but didn’t like the fresh kangkong salad. I just ate the caramelized walnuts and left the kangkong on the side.
Tita Moning’s Pancit Guisado
This was simple yet tasty dish.
Whole Baked Lapu-Lapu
Came in a bit bland for me despite the garlic bits but paired with the Salsa Monja, it brought the whole dish alive.
This is a well-cooked Paella. Definitely loved the 2 big shrimps that came with it.
Sauteed Fresh Ubod
Tita Moning’s Slowly Roasted Pork with Candied Sweet Camote
I think my mom would definitely love the sweet camote. I had a lot of this! The roasted pork was lean meat. Was looking for a little fat but there was too few of it. Again, I find that the dish was a bit bland and had to pear it with the Salsa Monja. The meat was tender and hubby loved it.
Desserts are what I look for in every meal. We had 2 desserts included.
Caramelized Saba Bananas with Vermouth Native Fruits in Season
Turon of Saba Banana and Bread Pudding with a Native Hot Chocolate Cup
Loved the turon! It had a different wrapper and the bananas inside were nicely mushy. The bread pudding was also good but the serving portion was too small! The native hot chocolate was accented by a cinnamon stick stirrer which we appreciated.
Over-all, dinner at La Cocina de Tita Moning was a great over-all experience although the set menus are expensive and a bit over-priced (regular price of the above food serving is PHP5000.00.The above is for 2 pax already!). The detail that they put into the dining experience is worth trying it out for. Oh, and they gave as a bottle of the Salsa Monja for take-home. 🙂 It would have been nice being invited into this household decades back.
315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel District, Manila