Only a few restaurants in the city serve great food and spirits, so choosing the venue- the Forest House Bistro and Café, which is located just outside the old gate of Camp John Hay – was a no- brainer.
A gentleman decided to propose to a woman of his dreams and he picked Baguio, with its pleasant weather and charming surroundings, as the place to pop a question. Only a few restaurants in the city serve great food and spirits, so choosing the venue- the Forest House Bistro and Café, which is located just outside the old gate of Camp John Hay – was a no- brainer.
Owner Ari Verzosa recounted to this writer that the gentleman reserved the entire veranda overlooking a breath taking scenery where a single table brimming with the fresh flowers was set up. As the sun went down and with the violin playing in the background, the gentleman took out an engagement ring knelt down and uttered: “Will you marry me?” Although she was caught entirely by surprise, the lady said “yes,” no doubt influence by the romantic ambiance and, more important, its delectable menu.
The Forest House opened in April 2001. It is not just a restaurant but a place where locals, Manilenos as well as foreigners enjoy the dreamy atmosphere, the great food, the live music, the excellent coffee and company of friends. The restaurant is also famous for its trademark fireplace, which is designed with bricks and drift wood touched by interiors in a cozy, comforting green that gives the feeling of being in the country side.
Verzosa’s wife Raquel insisted on having green plants around the establishment, as well as doing all the hand-painted lamps and pots that add a nice homey touch to the place. The chairs and couches are festooned with checkered blue cloth while the different color-stained glass window, high wood ceiling, rustic ceiling fans and warm lighting make the place even more enchanting.
The restaurant which is opened from 11am to 11 pm with live music from Wednesday to Saturday, has a wine bar, a small gift shop, 80- person dining area and a veranda that can set an additional 40 persons.
The menu of Forest House offers a wide variety of dishes, mainly of Spanish and Asian influence, concocted by 49-year-old executive chef Benjamin Munar. His expertise goes back to when he was eight-year-old when his father was the head cook in Tabacalera, which specialized in Spanish food. Before joining Forest House, Munar was the private cook of Joseph Estrada, who is a well-known gourmand.
Munar makes fresh sausages such as Hungarian and Bratwurst. One of the house specialties, which also happens to be the most-sought- after dish, is the Ilocos bagnet (crispy, fried pork belly).
Salads that are meant to be shared are Three- Dip Forest House Special ( a huge mix of fresh lettuce, strips of crispy cucumber, carrots and turnips with nuts, raisins and tomatoes that are hand-wrapped and may be dipped in strawberry, blue cheese or honey vinaigrette) and Waldorf Salad ( fresh apple and crunchy walnuts mixed with special dressing).
Forest house serves their famous wild mushroom in bread bowl soup and other great soups, appetizers, pastas, as well as all kind of seafood. In the list of its main courses are the Tornado Fillet Mignon in Mushroom Sauce; Beef Sirloin in Burgundy Sauce; Safroy Seafood Fricassee in Pastry Shell; Crab Meat Lasagna in Tomato Concasse; Minced Chicken in Munchkin and Creamy White Sauce.
Some Forest House’s other best sellers are the Lengua Con Setas, Salpicado, Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Peas and Ginger Spice, Forest House Lamb( grilled lamb marinated in mustard in garlic and Japanese soy sauce), Lamb Riviera( lamb chops marinated in olive oil and garlic) and Lamb Caldereta- a must-have.
Aside from signature dishes, Forest House is also known for its char-broiled specialties- grilled to tenderness- such as the T-bone, Porterhouse and Fillet Mignon steaks. It also has a half- chicken barbecue, and twin pork chops with apple sauce.
For family members of four, The Forest House offers family feasts of mixed favorites from the menu. After a heavy feast, one can enjoy its authentic blend Benguet coffee that is touted to be one of the best in the country.
Home for the Ravenous
By Tet Andolong
VOL. 3 NO. 185
Friday – Saturday, June 20-21, 2008 I