The Illy Series: Fontina

 

Vegetable Samosas

Vegetable Samosas

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs

Herbed Chicken in Gravy

Herbed Chicken in Gravy

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Thai Iced Tea

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Crusted Mozzarella

Crusted Mozzarella

 

 

The skies showed no signs of letting up. I’m at The Illy to Meet The Parents. The grey weather did nothing to quell anxiety. The rains still had them trapped at the plantation and we could not risk making our way there on public transport.

Rising, again, by midday, we made our way to Fontina for brunch. It was beginning to look like another one-meal day. The restaurant was one of those places that would benefit from the night and good lighting. Local “contemporary” art decorated the walls. Contempt being the root word of contemporary, in this case. I was there for the food. I was there for the food. I was there for the food.

Their best-selling Rib Eye was out on our visit and there were no burgers listed so I ordered Baby Back Ribs and the PussyKat tried their Herbed Chicken in Gravy from a rather extensive menu. I take that back. It wasn’t extensive. They did not have burgers.

For starters we had Vegetable Samosas which were served with what could only be plain mayonnaise. A sweet-and-sour sauce or a salsa fresca would have been a more complementary dip but the mayo did not distract much from the lightly seasoned, flaky, fried puffs. Very lightweight but an excellent start.

I grew up with Casa Verde’s Brian’s Baby Back Ribs, from its humble P75(?) beginnings to its current Korean ESL student favorite cult status, so I readily set my expectations low. Fontina’s was of a dismal serving size in stark comparison but the meat was spectacularly fall-off the bone with nary an effort with a fork. The sauce, however, hinted at the heavy inclusion of ketchup. Upon inquiry as to what kind it was, the waiter told us it was “bakreb sows”.  Wut? Bakreb sows. Why, of course. Where was my common sense? I think it is safe to assume that it’s a reduction of sugar and Papa Banana Ketchup. Or *shudder* Jufran. Overall, it was still a filling dish if one does not have any aversion to ketchup-cooking.

True to its name, the rosemary permeated the Herbed Chicken’s meat but it swam in a rather thin gravy without much character. It was, like their Baby Back Ribs, fall-off the bone betraying the possibility of a pre-cook in a pressure cooker. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Their Thai Iced Tea was an interesting version using a strong, fresh Chai Masala brew with condensed milk served on the side allowing one to tailor the sweetness to preference. The spice, tempered by the creaminess of the milk, left just enough tingle on the tongue much like the sensation of peppermint.

I could never go with just a single-serve and got a pitcher of their Iced Tea With Fresh Fruits. The photo on the menu showed a variety of fruit other than the finely-cubed watermelon and pineapple. I won’t complain on account of  it having that brewed, aged-herb, Lipton-y taste than your usual powdered-drink or syrup mix. That lasted us forever.

Their Red Velvet Cake was a modest slice resting on a zigzag of squeeze-bottle chocolate sauce. Mmmm. Ricoa. It was quite velvety and was more buttercream than cream cheese but it could hold up well against other red velvet offerings.

A curious item on their dessert list was their Crusted Mozzarella. It arrived on a fancy plate with a grill-pressed mozzarella sandwich swimming in commercial chocolate sauce and topped with a scoop of mango ice cream, a split Oreo and half a Maraschino. Hello, Mickey Mouse. While I would have preferred that they used a semi-sweet or even dark cooking chocolate for the sauce and a brand of mozzarella more distinguishable from the bread crusting more by taste than by texture, it still had my attention for the unusual combination.

I was ready for a strong cup of black to wash down the guilt of sugar. The PussyKat suggested Kopi Luwak. By then the digestive processes were in full gear and a majority of my blood has been shunted from my brain to my guts. I was sleepy. Sleepy. So sleepy. Sleeepy. *trails off.

Fontina is located at A. Bonifacio Avenue, Tibanga 9200 Iligan City.

 

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