Holiday Get-together with Friends at Denny’s BGC

The holiday season affords friends separated by distance or circumstance with a valid reason to get together and catch up. That is what I recently did with a group of friends composed of current and former coworkers.

Earlier this year, I had my birthday treat at Denny’s Trinoma. For our yearly get-together, we opted for a Denny’s in BGC, our middle ground when you consider that one of us lives near Fairview, Quezon City while another lives in Binan, Laguna.

The restaurant is well-located at Uptown Parade, easily accessible from the carpark. It does not accept reservations during weekends but, when I called the day before, the hostess agreed to put our group in the priority list.

We timed our get-together on the Saturday morning before Christmas Eve, to avoid the traffic from the holiday rush and to enjoy the hearty and filling breakfast fare that Denny’s is known for, such as:

  • Ham and Cheese Omelette (Php395), fluffy, 3-egg omelette with diced ham and melted cheese. I opted for waffles to accompany this dish to have a nice combination of savory and sweet flavors. I also ordered a Hot Chocolate (Php120) to go with my meal.
  • Fit Slam (Php375), scrambled egg whites with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, served with chicken breast and apple cubes. This was ordered by one of my fitness-conscious companions.
  • All American Slam (Php395), scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese, bacon strips, sausages and hash browns, served with toast.
  • Tenderloin Bistek Tagalog (Php345), tenderloin beef slices marinated and sauteed Bistek Tagalog style (a Pinoy favorite), topped with onion slices and served with 2 eggs sunny side up and a cup of garlic rice. This was ordered by my boss who simply had to have her “kanin” and “malasadong itlog.
  • Loaded Veggie Omelette (Php355), melted cheese omelette with fresh spinach, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, sauteed zucchini and squash, served with toast and hash browns.
  • Sausage and Pepper Skillet (Php395), cheddar cheese, sausage and Schublig mixed with fire-roasted bell peppers and gravy.

We also ordered a Caramel Apple Crisp (Php295), served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar, as our dessert.

We spent over 3 hours chatting and bantering, a great time spent among close and trusted friends.

Denny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweetly Snacking at J. CO Donuts

One of the latest stores to open in SM City East Ortigas is J. CO Donuts and Coffee. You won’t be able to miss it; it’s facade will greet you as soon as you get through the main entrance. The resto is quite spacious with both high tables suitable for working and comfy sofas for talking with friends. Aside from the seats inside the store, additional seats are also available outside near the escalator. You will also find some merchandise for sale such as branded mugs and tumblers if you’re inclined to bring home a souvenir.

The donut variant I usually end up ordering is the AlCapone (see that clever wordplay? That happens a lot with J. CO). The soft-bite donut is dipped into creamy Belgian white chocolate then topped with roasted almond slices.

My daughter (and my usual companion during my snacking expeditions) prefers Heaven Berry: a donut dipped into strawberry cream with a garnish of white chocolate swirl.

I love the relaxing atmosphere of this resto, perfect for desserts and snacking.

J.CO Donuts & Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Laid-back vibe and tasty burgers at Charlie’s Grind and Grill

Craving for some nice juicy and meaty burgers? Head over to Charlie’s Grind and Grill, a newly opened burger joint along Sgt. Esguerra Avenue.

I’ve already eaten at its Legaspi Village branch (which is sadly, already closed) and its Kapitolyo branch but my coworkers and I were particularly excited to eat at this newest branch that opened near my office.

The resto is situated in a converted house along Esguerra Avenue, right next door to Lola Ote and Sugar Fix.  The place has limited parking and its dining area is quite small.  Our group of nine people took up nearly half the space.

The wait staff are laid-back and friendly as well, regaling us about the difference in flavor and texture between Angus and Wagyu burgers.

I ordered a Wagyu Cheeseburger; in my previous forays in the other Charlie’s branches, I find that I favor its flavor and texture more than the Angus version.  It is served with ginormous wedges of fries which we dipped into our choices among several sauces presented to us.

I wouldn’t mind returning to Charlie’s Grind and Grill to further explore my love affair with burgers.

Charlie's Grind & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Steak indulgence at Melo’s

My love for steak is well-known.  Well-documented, even. Consider the steak escapes I blogged about here: Mad Mark’s in Glorietta, Mad Mark’s in BGC, Artsy Cafe and the steak spread at Marriott Cafe buffet.  I even ask my relatives coming home from the States to bring home slabs of Stateside beef to be grilled here.

You can definitely consider me a carnivore.  This is why I was over the moon when a credit card promo entitled me to up to 67% discount on selected steak sets at Melo’s.

And wouldn’t you know it: the stars aligned.  I have officemates who are also certified steak fanatics and a Melo’s branch is right across the street from our office!

So I made a quick call to reserve our table (originally for just four but grew to seven), then we all trooped to Melo’s for lunch.  We all ordered the Angus Lunch Set (regularly priced at Php1,500 but promotionally priced at only Php599; more than half off the price!).

The meal started with the bread, butter and soup. We all chose a creamy soup to go with our meal but the real star of the pre-steak lunching were those freshly-baked bread rolls!   (And there we were, singing praises about bread.)  We just had to request for some more. (And it’s a good thing our requests for seconds were granted).

Then came our steak plates which consisted of a thick slice of juicy and flavorful Angus beef, grilled medium-well, served with small servings of vegetables which let us savor our steaks with minimal distractions to our palates.

I heard that the promo is ongoing until end of December this year.  Looks like I’ll be going back there!

Melo’s branches participating in the promo are:

  • Melo’s Quezon City: #58 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City (Tel. Nos: 924-9194 or 924-9168)
  • Melo’s Burgos Circle: Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global, City Taguig (Tel. Nos.: 403-5968 or 403-5969)
  • Carmelo’s Greenbelt: Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City (Tel. Nos: 625-5954 or 625-5986)

Advanced booking is required so be sure to call before you go there.

Melo's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Want tips on how to cook mouth-watering steaks at home? Check out these books at

The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide That Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes

The Book of Steak

Steak a Fork in It: Mouthwatering Steak Recipes for the Carnivore in All of Us

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Lunch Stopover at Pancake House

Driving home from our getaway at La Luz Beach Resort over the All Saints Day break, we stopped by at the Total Gas Station for lunch. We decided on Pancake House because its offerings are safe bets, especially when your picky eater son with you.

The resto features Pancake House’s signature orange-themed furniture and decor, with cute Halloween accents adding a more fun and festive air to the place.

The wait staff were quick to assist us with our dripping umbrella (it was raining pretty hard when we arrived) and usher us to a table.

We took advantage of an SM Advantage promo that entitles us to FREE two-piece Classic Pancakes (Php146) when our bill reaches Php700.

To reach this amount, we ordered:

  • Almondigas Soup (Php112). Many Pinoys grew up with this soup of steaming flavorful broth with miswa (rice noodles) and pork meatballs. Perfect for a rainy day!
  • Best Taco in Town (Php120). And it probably is! A crispy taco shell houses ground beef, lettuce, onions, tomato and cheese until they all find their way to your mouth.
  • Classic Pan Chicken (Php255 for 3 pieces) that Hubby split with little boy. My baby especially likes the buttery gravy that comes with the chicken and douses his rice with it.
  • Pan-Grilled Pork Belly (Php260). A thick piece of Cajun spice-marinated pork belly served with mashed potatoes and corn and carrots.

Together with the free pancakes, we had a filling meal that fueled us for the journey home.

This branch of Pancake House is located at the Total SLT, South Luzon Expressway, Malitlit, Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Pancake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You said what?!? Fat Fook!

Despite the odd-sounding name, there’s nothing obscene about Fat Fook, except probably the amount of food you will end up consuming. In fact, the name’s meaning in Cantonese comes closer to “big blessing.”

This Taiwanese resto, managed by the same group that operates Ramen Nagi, opened its first store in the very busy SM North EDSA. The decor has quite a modern feel with touches of eccentric Asian aesthetic such as bright red architectural accents and porcelain bowls used as light fixtures.

After doing some field work in the morning, a coworker and I were treated lunch at Fat Fook. We were able to sample the unique tastes of Taiwan with these orders:

  • Taiwanese Sausages (Php288). The sweetness of the sausages were enhanced by the thin slices of raw garlic wedged into them.
  • Taiwan Style Fried Rice (Php258). Tiny cubes of Taiwanese sausages are mixed into rice with finely chopped carrots and green onions, sauteed with a savory brown sauce.
  • Salted Egg Shrimp (Php398). I would have preferred for the shrimps to be shelled so that I won’t have to scrape off that tasty salted egg sauce from the shells before eating the shrimp.

Fat Fook seems very promising and I look forward to tasting more of its offerings. The good news is: a new branch opened at Robinsons Galleria which is nearer my place.

Fat Fook Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Want to try cooking Taiwanese dishes at home?  Check out these books at!

The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island. Acclaimed author Cathy Erway offers an insider’s look at Taiwanese cooking—from home-style dishes to authentic street food.

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Continental cuisine lunch at Eighteen Bistro

Along Scout Rallos in the Tomas Morato area in Quezon City is a small restaurant called Eighteen Bistro.  “Hole-in-the-wall” restaurants may characterized by cramped spaces and dinginess but this joint is anything but.

Eighteen Bistro is known as an after-office hangout (with Php18 cocktails!) but I went there with friends for lunch.  Its elegant modern interiors and food offerings are seemingly inspired by continental European haunts and cuisines.

The Portobello Mushroom Dip (Php285)  served with thin slices of toasted French bread, and the Pumpkin and Walnut Ravioli (Php260) for example, are decadent appetizers that the group wasted no time in wolfing down.

Our lunch consisted of Chicken Parmigiana (Php340), juicy pieces of baked chicken fillets with zesty sauce of stewed tomatoes and mozzarella, served over mushroom rice pilaf; Roasted Pork Belly (Php365), a 3-hour slow-roasted pork served over potato terrine; and Mushroom Risotto (Php380), arborio rice topped with caramelized mushrooms and walnuts, all contributing to an upscale and satisfying lunch experience.

Eighteen Bistro is located at 51-B Scout Rallos Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City. Zomato users can book their tables online using the app.

Eighteen Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato