With the twins out on their field trip and almost all of my close friends off on their long vacation, it didn’t look like an eventful birthday for me. Good that Z, who contributes for the Inquirer, decided to tag me along to a food tasting trip to breezy Tagaytay. If there’s something that gonna entice me to leave everything behind, that’s the smell of food and especially if it’s something I haven’t tried… like Greek food!
After what seemed like an effortless trip, we arrived at Mano’s Greek Taverna by lunchtime. The place at once looked familiar, until I remembered that this was Sanctuario Cafe’s old location, prior to relocating by the rotonda. Welcoming us was the patriarch of the place himself, Manos Sapountzakis, who opened the resto a few months ago with his Filipina wife, Es. I noticed that the place was bathed in white with transparent white curtains, posters of Greek sceneries hanging by the walls and Christmas novelty items reminding one of the impending (expensive) holidays. The place does not really exude ‘sophistication’ all over but I thought, this must be how an airy, breezy Greek taverna looks like. The sight of Mano’s and Es’ two kids scampering around further adds to the resto’s family-oriented appeal.
Mano started by giving us ladies a long stem of red rose in true chivalrous Greek fashion. He came back with glasses of red wine which we were only too willing to sample. Hmm, I liked it because it was sweet and not overpowering to the taste.
Amid all the pleasantries, we must have tasted a total of 14 dishes that long afternoon. Must-tries at Mano’s are their homemade bread dipped in tzatsiki, the eggplant moussaka and the baklava. I also liked their Hellenici Salata (Greek summer salad), the cabbage rolls (filled with rice and minced meat), stuffed vegetables and lamb fricassee – a creamy stew of tender-cooked lamb seasoned with various spices. The grilled lamb ribs turned out to be beyond par and the owner apologetically explained that this was because the ribs were the last ones on the stock. Hopefully, it will be better next time. Capping our hefty meal was a cup of Greek coffee which you can order either black, semi-sweet or sweet. I ordered sweet and found it – well – too sweet 🙁 Unfortunately, the gift of eloquence eludes me now to describe all the food I tasted but the pictures should speak for themselves. Aside from the fact that it adheres to the healthy principles of Mediterranean cooking with the liberal use of olive oil, one good thing about Mano’s is the price. The most expensive dish here is priced at P270 and that’s already a main course with rice or potatoes and all the vegetable sidings. Some of the items like the salads and the gyros are priced below 100.
Oh well, I failed to follow the advice of my Chinese friends to eat misua first thing on my birthday but at least Mediterranean-style fare is the next best thing since it’s always been hailed as healthy. Just don’t do it like me and try all 14 dishes at the same time!
Mano’s Greek Taverna
along Tagaytay-Calamba Road (before reaching the rotonda), Bgy. San Jose, Tagaytay City
Cellphone # 0916-4298358