Sometimes there is nothing quite as comforting as ‘homecooked food’, and for many Filipinos this points to some classics such as sinigang, kare-kare, dinuguan, lechon—just to name a few. It has become a challenge for restaurants to serve up their own versions of these favorites, especially in the face of trends such as fusion cuisine, food parks, etc. One place that is up to the task is Locavore, a sit-down restaurant/bar that caters to culinary purists as well as adventurous gourmands alike.
I had the opportunity to dine here one Sunday lunchtime, as per the recommendation of one of my siblings. Fortunately, my family had made a reservation beforehand, as there was already a line of patrons outside the restaurant as early as 11:30 in the morning. Perusing the menu was a serious matter, as all the dishes were simply yet enticingly described; here at Locavore, tapsilog is not just meat with fried rice and a sunny side up egg! Eventually we decided on these entrees:
- Chori Silog
This is far more than simply chorizo sausage + egg + rice. What arrived at our table was an intimidating set-up of garlic rice topped with a soft and runny scrambled egg, crowned with a homemade chorizo patty. This very rich mountain of food was dripping with labuyo aioli and barbeque sauce, providing that sweet and spicy mix so beloved by Filipinos. A side dish of picked cucumber and onion helped round out this sumptuous meal. In my opinion this meal is more appropriate for a breakfast or brunch as opposed to a family lunch. Nevertheless, it was very filling and definitely brings value for what one pays for.
- Dinuguang Lechon
Who would have thought that two fiesta favorites could make such a good marriage? The thick and tasty dinuguan makes a balance to the crisp and slightly salty lechon, especially the skin! This is not a dish that is meant to be enjoyed alone.
- Kare Kare Wings
I do have a weakness for chicken wings in all kinds of sauces, but it usually takes some persuading for me to eat kare kare (especially since most kare kare requires bagoong and I have some pretty dreadful allergies). This time I was won over; Locavore serves its kare kare wings with a choice of dips: bagoong and a special buttermilk ranch dressing. The kare kare was surprisingly light on the palate, with just the right amount of peanut flavor. The ranch dressing was an especial treat, since it lent a great contrast to the classic kare kare taste. Here’s to my adding kare kare to my list of ‘Things that Chicken Wings Must Be Dipped In.’.
- Sizzling Sinigang
It’s not every day that one gets served stew that is sizzling on a plate. Locavore does just that, with its beef sinigang sa sampaloc served with sautéed French beans and a garlic confit. The soup itself was so thick and flavorful, perfect for dipping in the French beans or spooning all over hot rice. The beef was so tender that it could melt in our mouths. It can only take culinary magic to make a dish that is this rich and yet does not overwhelm the taste buds.
We washed all of this down with Locavore’s sorbetes, which comes in the classic trio of Tsoknut, milk (gatas) and cheese (keso). The other dessert offerings such as the sizzling pandesal pudding were just as tempting, but these will have to wait for subsequent food trips.
Although Locavore also styles itself as a bar, it also has a friendly selection of seasonal fruit juices as well as mocktails for those eschewing alcohol. We tried the Cucumber Lime Cooler and the Apple Lime Cooler mocktails. Both of these icy drinks had just the right amount of sweet-sourness to cleanse the palate and whet one’s appetite for the rest of the feast.
We cannot look at Filipino food (especially sinigang!) the same way again after this trip to Locavore. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to try more of its delights soon!
The Food Score: 4.5/5: The food here is rich, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Nevertheless the cuisine at Locavore exemplifies the Filipino mode of feasting, all the way down to appealing to the Pinoy penchant for sweet sour dishes. And I will insist that the sinigang is sheer sorcery.
Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The service here is excellent and prompt, however the restaurant itself is quite crowded. The black and white décor may be appealing for patrons who will go to this establishment in the evenings for the bar aspect, but it seemed a bit dreary for the Sunday family lunch crowd.
GERD Score: 3.5/5: Some Filipino favorites and heartburn normally don’t go hand in hand, but the wide selection of dishes makes the place worthwhile to visit. One’s best option is to share on the heartier meals.
Epilepsy Score: 4/5: Again, variety saves the day. While some foods here are definitely processed and should be eaten in moderation, there are enough fresh options such as ensalada for those with dietary restrictions. The mocktails also make this place an option for partygoers and night owls who may wish to accompany friends to the bar, but cannot partake of the other alcoholic offerings.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Locavore is definitely a place to go if one wants Filipino food taken to a new level. Whether for a family lunch or a loud night out, this place has you covered. This is a place worth the excursion, whether for newbies to cuisine in this part of the world, or die-hard aficionados.