I initiated a weekly habit in my family. Every Saturday night, we dine in a restaurant in town. A way of getting to know our neighborhood, really. We’ve been living in Antipolo for nine years and we’re still unfamiliar with many of the establishments. We were once true-blue city folk, after all, and it hasn’t been easy shaking off the penchant to seek out restaurants in Metro Manila whenever the dining out bug hit us. It’s about time that we explore Antipolo’s culinary offerings.
The good news is that, over the past few years, cafes have become fashionable here. Okay, so maybe we’re a little late — that fashion hit the metropolis much, much earlier. But, unlike most cafes in the metro that are mere franchises of already successful chains abroad, the cafes that dot the streets of Antipolo these days are home grown affairs. And they are unique in one way or another — a result, perhaps, of stiffer competition because with the rather small population of Antipolo, each has to offer something really memorable to keep customers coming back.
If you’re going on the annual pilgrimage to Antipolo in May, forget about the notion that dining and drinking in this hilly suburb are limited to the tired and old establishments along Sumulong Highway which offer little more than a panoramic view of Metro Manila. There is so much more to Antipolo than suman and kasuy and filthy Hinulugang Taktak too. There are so many places where food is good and the ambience is friendly and comfortable. I’ve already written about Vieux Chalet in a feature article a few years back, I wrote about Cafe Inday last week, now, let me introduce you to Old Town Mountain Coffee.
When construction of the Rizal Capitol building in Antipolo began about two years ago, and even before the actual transfer of the offices, I already predicted that restaurants and eateries would mushroom around the building to cater to the employees. Small unassuming eateries in backyards, serving lunch and merienda, sprouted. So did regular restaurants and cafes.
One of them is Old Town Mountain Coffee which is located in a new two-story building right behind the Capitol. It’s been in operation for a few months before we learned that one of the owners is Billy Arrienda, a long-ago neighbor (in another part of town) and former officemate of my husband. He had no idea we were coming last Saturday, he was busy but sat down with us long enough to chat. That was how I learned that he was posted for a while in Indonesia and, as part of his job, travelled regularly around Southeast Asia. And he fell in love with the various Southeast Asian cuisines — particularly, Malay and Singaporean food.
Old Town Mountain Coffee caters to the family crowd as well as the barkada crowd. There is an airconditioned non-smoking dining area and a separate smoking section situated on an open-air veranda. For kids, there are sure-fire crowd-pleasers like creamy carbonara. For those who like pica-pica with their drinks, they have dishes like calamares and sisig. And for diners who need the psychological boost and familiarity of comfort food, there are several items in the all-day breakfast menu like tocino, tapa, pork chops, lechon kawali and daing na bangus.
My daughters are in their teens and although they do get the occasional craving for pasta, they are not averse to new things. My husband and I pine for good old comfort food once in a while but, generally, we are adventurous with food. So when we went to Old Town Mountain coffee for dinner last Saturday, we ordered both the familiar and the unfamiliar.
The meal started with a platter of Korean dumplings (flown in regularly from Korea, according to Billy) and I especially enjoyed the lucky bag dumplings.
The salad, despite its Western origins, was served Filipino style — generously smothered with dressing and topped with lots of bacon strips.
There was mushroom soup (delicious!), shrimp tempura (I left those to my husband and daughters), spicy pork spare ribs, sweet beef ribs and sisig.
The spicy pork spare ribs, a blend of Singapore and Malay flavors modified to suit the Filipino palate, were marvelous (a little less salt would make it perfect). Literally falling off the bones, the meat was moist and succulent with just the right amount of spiciness.
The beef was great too (the girls and I are not huge fans of beef so we left the beef to their dad to feast on).
The sisig, topped with raw egg, was not too spicy so even children can enjoy it.
Despite the seemingly generic menu of Old Town Mountain Coffee, what it really boasts of is the Malaysian coffee — rich and dark but not bitter at all.
With all that food plus rice, cold drinks and coffee, how much did our meal cost?
Nine hundred and sixty pesos (P960.00) only. Unbelievable? The pork ribs and beef ribs (each good for two to three persons) cost a hundred and twenty (P140.00) a hundred and forty (P140.00) respectively, the sisig cost a hundred, the tempura a hundred and twenty (P120.00). You get the idea. Reasonable prices, good chow.
Old Town Mountain Coffee is located at the second floor of the Kapitolyo Arcade at 89 P. Oliveros Street, Barangay San Roque, Antipolo. It is open daily for lunch (10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m.) and dinner (5.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m.)