A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Zomato Foodie Dinner at Buenisimo at Cafe Ysabel. A friend of mine attended a full course at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies, and we attended her “graduation” lunch at Cafe Ysabel where the graduates cooked the meal, so anything Cafe Ysabel reminds me of her.
Anyway, I have not heard of Buenisimo before this invitation, but I was excited to try it because of the Cafe Ysabel name. I rarely drive beyond the main streets going to T. Morato, and that’s why I have not stumbled onto Buenisimo before this.
Buenisimo is located at 24C Scout Tuason Corner Scout Lozano Street, near Tomas Morato. It was easy to find using Waze, and a few parking slots were available in front of the restaurant.
Buenisimo serves Spanish and Italian food, so don’t be surprised to see lengua dishes along with pasta! The menu consists of comfort food that the chef owners grew up with, with some added modern twists.
For the appetizers, we started with the Lengua with Crispy Garlic Sauce (P218). I love anything lengua, and I liked this. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture before people dug in… It was cubes of soft lengua in a slightly spicy garlic sauce.
Next, we were served the Pastrami Sandwich (P388). It is a sandwich with a filling of homemade pastrami with a creamy cheese sauce, with sauerkraut and fries on the side.
I think the price of P388 makes it a very good value, because, well, just look at how big it is. My only problem with it is that the pastrami was a bit on the dry side, and I am used to more tender pastrami.
Here’s a closer look at my plate:
Next, we had the Double Pepperoni Pizza (P438). I like pepperoni pizzas and I liked this The crust was crispy and chewy (in a good way) and wasn’t too thick. At this price, I’d rather get this pepperoni pizza than order from the pizza chains, because this is waaaay better value and is less expensive but is actually better than the chain pizzas. I forgot to ask how big this pizza is, but if I had to guess, I’d say around 12-14 inches.
We were served two kinds of pasta: Angry Sauce (single P378 / sharing P628) and Truffled Mac N’ Cheese (P588).
The Angry Sauce pasta was really good and tasted of the sea. It has a base of pomodoro sauce, with lots of seafood and mushrooms. It is a bit spicy but not overly so. The clams were really fresh and my first thought when I bit into one was, this tastes like the sea. Recommended!
The Truffled Mac N’ Cheese smelled really good. I love the smell of truffles! This mac n’ cheese was cheesy, as expected, but not cloyingly so. I actually like how the cheese sauce was smooth and creamy.
Next, we were served the Grilled Salmon with Sous Vide Egg and Passionfruit Hollandaise (P528). I loved the sous vide egg! There was a lot going on in the dish – pesto, grilled salmon, alfalfa, a deliciously runny egg, and a passionfruit hollandaise. However, in my opinion, overall the dish was nice and comforting.
Here is Buenisimo’s Crackling Pork Ribs (P448), served on a bed of Cilantro Garlic Rice, with cranberry jelly, peppercorn sauce, and crispy garlic bits on the side. It was okay but not really memorable. I actually liked the cilantro rice more. The pork was just fried pork, there was nothing really different about it, although it was fried up really well and crispy.
Bacon Steak with 65-degree Egg and Wild Mushroom Ragout (no price listed) – this had potential to be good but was just a little too salty. I understand that it’s bacon steak and is supposed to be salty, but it was just too salty.
For dessert, we were first served the Choc-nut Cheesecake (P238). It was served decorated with this red nest of spun sugar. The cheesecake was pretty light. It is not one of those densely-packed cheesecakes. It was good and tasted like choc-nut, but just hints of choc-nut; it wasn’t too heavy on the choc-nut, which was good. If I didn’t know this was a choc-nut cheesecake, I would be wondering what that fleeting, nutty flavor was.
And lastly, we were served a trio of Creme Brulee Samplers (P248). The sampler flavors are Vanilla, Mango and Dulce de Leche (in the middle). The Dulce de Leche creme brulee is sooooooooo decadent! Caramel lovers will surely lick the bowl, hehe. It’s like crack for caramel people. It was the first time that I have tried a dulce de leche or salted caramel creme brulee, and I am happy! It was sweet and bitter and creamy. Fortunately, the others were not into sweets or were watching their sugar intake, probably… so more of that salted caramel goodness for me!
For drinks, I ordered the Buenisimo! (P190 / P230), which was a shake with mango, passionfruit and mint leaves. I liked it. Some thought it was too sweet, but I thought it was fine. I liked the combination of ripe mangoes, passionfruit and mint. It was good. It was refreshing and flavorful and did not taste watered down even after all the ice needed to make a shake.
I think the fame of Cafe Ysabel had me going in with high expectations of the food. The presentation looked great and the ingredient quality was also high, however, it just felt like there was something missing from the food – that something that makes you go “Wow!” Otherwise, the food was just okay – except for the Angry Sauce pasta and the Dulce de Leche creme brulee, which I thought were wonderful.
With that being said, I do think some of the dishes are good value (Double Pepperoni Pizza, Pastrami Sandwich). Comparing them with similar dishes on the same level, and even against chain restaurants and pizza places, I found the prices at Buenisimo comparable, and actually, much better value.
Buenisimo is where you take someone you want to impress, but don’t want to be too showy about it. Like, “hey, I know this nice place just around the corner” ;P It is a bit out of the way from the swanky, main road restaurants, but boasts a culinary pedigree that you can casually mention in conversation to impress your guest, haha.
Buenisimo by Cafe Ysabel
24C Scout Tuason Corner Scout Lozano Street, near Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11 AM – 11 PM ; Fri – Sun: 7:30 AM – 11 PM
Contact #: (02) 4105050
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