While enjoying the food at Cookbook Kitchen, I told Mon that it would be nice if we could both write the food review for my blog.
So here are our reviews:
I read somewhere that a good way to spice up a relationship is for the couple to dine at an unusually-situated eating place, away from those in malls and established gimik complexes. Since J and I have already tried almost all the restos we fancy in Greenbelt, Shangri-La Mall and the Atrium in Megamall, I was pumped up to find our next dining destination soon.
It was a good thing that in the office last Thursday, my friend Owen was raving about this restaurant in Mandaluyong that he and his new boyfriend went to that afternoon. He said it’s called Cookbook Kitchen (CBK) and that was the start of his series of praises for the place and its food. He gave me CBK’s Multiply address (www.cookbookkitchen.multiply.com), which I visited at once.
The website will give you a good glimpse of its menu, complete with photos of its dishes which enticed me in no time. Since I’d be on leave from work the next day and J will be in the Mandaluyong area that Friday night, I called him and asked if he’d like to give CBK a try. True to his Libra element, it took J until lunchtime the next day to finally say yes to a dinner reservation for two at CBK (😛 —Jason).
So I called CBK and asked the staff to have our table ready by half past eight. I even inquired about the availability of my pre-meditated choices: Squash Soup, CBK Chicken, Pesto di Basilico, and Parmesan Crusted White Fish (the house specialty, for the two of us to share). Everything was available except for the Pesto di Basilico. The person I spoke with said that the restaurant recently updated its menu and that meant the removal of this pasta dish off its roster. I was a bit disappointed because I’m a big pesto fan and I love almost anything with it. I even joined a Pesto fan page in Facebook (for fellow pesto fanatics, just type “pesto” in the search box in Facebook, hit enter and you’re there presto!).
Fast forward to dinner time. Pasta al pesto not being available turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the guys at Cookbook Kitchen give generous servings of their dishes. I ordered as I planned while J opted for the Pork Steak w/ Honey Mustard Sauce (Although I prefer my meat well done and spicy, this dish is nevertheless a good alternative, particularly for those who prefer cream-based entrées—Jason).
We started our meal with the Squash soup. A mutual favorite of ours, we make it a point to order it whenever it is available in the restaurant we are dining at. CBK’s version of this soup variant has the perfect consistency—definitely not watery but not too thick. Its meaty taste reminds me of my mom’s ginisang kalabasa and sitaw (trust me, that’s a good thing), which leads me to think that CBK either cooks it in strong pork broth or actually have the squash pureed with small chunks of pork. Also, it is served with freshly baked bread shaped like a small pillow. It has a buttery taste so there is no need to spread actual butter. For me, its squash soup is one of the best, if not the best in town (Makati Sports Club serves good squash soup as well).
CBK Chicken is a dish of grilled chicken breast stuffed with ham, cheese, and fresh basil leaves. CBK does its grilling really well—the knife glides perfectly against the chicken, which means that it’s neither overcooked nor undercooked—grilled to perfection, ‘ika nga. Thumbs up to the way CBK stuffed it with layers of cheese, ham and basil—more than halfway through the dish, the stuffing is still intact. More importantly, it tasted really good. The natural bland taste of the chicken breast was an excellent canvass for the saline taste of the cheese, the sweet taste of the ham, and the strong herbal flavor of the basil. CBK Chicken is reminiscent of the good old chicken cordon bleu, only it was chunkier and more textured.
The Parmesan Crusted White Fish is fish fillet baked with lots of Parmesan cheese on top. The taste of the Parmesan mixes well with the natural salty flavor of the fish. For those who might find it a bit too salty, you can dash it with lemon that comes with the dish. I understand why it has become CBK’s ultimate house specialty: it melts in your mouth and it really tickles the taste buds. I recommend this dish to be eaten with plain jasmine rice and that you order it as the only main course for a better appreciation of this unique dish.
Since we had very little room for dessert, we opted for a scoop of ice cream for each of us—vanilla for J and strawberry for me. I’ll make it a point to try their cakes next time. We also enjoyed their apple-flavored white iced tea and their green iced tea with a hint of menthol.
As for the place, it has a very homey feel that befits the size of its floor area. It has more or less 10 tables of various sizes inside the restaurant and a few more outside for those who want to dine al fresco. The choice of glassware and fabric design is reminiscent of the late 70s and the early 80s, which adds up well to the intimate kitchen concept of the restaurant.
All in all, it was a very good dining experience: good food that’s priced reasonably, a place that mirrors the comfort of home, and pleasant staff members who served our dinner with wide smiles. I definitely recommend this place to our friends. Prior reservation is required so be sure to give them a call at 7243595 or 3815935 before you go there.
Cookbook Kitchen is at 8 Socorro Fernandez Street, Mandaluyong City. Directions on how to get there are in its Multiply site. Finding the place is a bit tricky. Referring to the map from their website, J and I decided to walk our way to get there from our meeting place, which is Starbucks Wack-Wack in Shaw Boulevard. It was a long walk through uphill streets. Going home, we realized that the directions are for those who plan to go there by car. If you plan to commute, you may get off at Shaw corner Luna Mencias Street. Luna Mencias is a one-way street and you can walk your way against the flow of traffic then make a turn to the second street to the right.
In any case, I don’t mind taking the same path again for our second visit. For me, long walks with J are always a good thing. I won’t complain. (Aaaawww —Jason)
Ang sarap sarap!!! Eh ano pa ba masasabi ko, eh true to his cum laude form, nagpaka-bibo ang lolo nyo at sinabi na lahat, lol.
Just to reiterate:
- The servings are huge.
- The squash soup is awesome—along with the perfect bread that came with it. I’m not a bread/pastry fan, but this was one memorable bread.
- The dishes we ordered were cream-based, which made me feel too full too soon. I’ll remember to have more variety the next time we visit.
- It has clean and well-organized restrooms—for gents, ladies and a common wash area.
- I found it extremely weird that if you are dining al fresco, you eat right beside sweaty men, no exaggeration. That’s because the al fresco area only has bars separating it from a gym.
Photo credit: http://www.cookbookkitchen.multiply.com