The rain has thankfully died down to a tickling on Day Three at the Illy. It had been quite a productive day–having started early with lechon, followed closely by pizza and winding down the afternoon with coffee. The PussyKat has been going on forever about Marianos and I’d be pressed for time to squeeze that in before what I anticipated to be another long boat ride back home. A quick call landed us a reservation at six.
Tucked away in a residential area, Marianos modern, minimalist styling of finished concrete and glass greeted me as a pleasant surprise. Food is experiential so setting and ambience does add to a dish. The blonde woods and white interiors made for a perfect backdrop and single bamboo leaf in a brown reagent bottle provided simple, unobtrusive decoration for the stage.
Although printed on a single sheet, making our selection from the menu proved tough. Everything looked good. We now started to regret our indulgences earlier in the day. There was no way we could have a dish per section and decided to just get a salad and a main.
We started with a Bacon and Mozzarella Salad which was basically a caprese smothered with a very generous dash of large, chopped bacon and vinaigrette. Sadly, our waiter wasn’t able to inform us about where the mozzarella was from or what was in the vinaigrette. Delicious, nonetheless. Tomatoes and mozzarella are a classic combination, its sweet and flat, cheese flavors, respectively, balancing the acid of the vinaigrette and the salt of the bacon.
Doi’s Burger was a Brie-stuffed 100% beef patty with truffle mushroom duxelles, thick bacon and shoe string potatoes. Burgers-on-wooden-boards have become a an industry standard. Marianos gets extra points for the wax paper liner and the little, wooden condiment dish for the ketchup and mustard. Bottled Dijon and not your squeeze-bottle McCormick, it appears. Or as I hope it was. The waiter offered to serve the burger split, anticipating that I will be sharing calories with the lady. And lady as she is, ochobo. Hahaha. The shoestring fries resembled crisped onions that I wished that was an option. My teeth were first met with the crunch followed by the grit of a good char. The mushroom and brie filling burst into my mouth in a molten stream melding with the meat. I made an involuntary “O” face. The PussyKat gave me the jealous eyebrow then made one herself on her bite. Beef and brie. Farewell, Kraft Cheddar Singles. Farewell.
The Specials of the Day caught my eye on the chalkboard and the Baked Brie called out. We were holding out on further orders taking the amount of our intake earlier in the day into consideration. Table envy would become our undoing. The waiter paraded plates upon plates of what looked to be items we were mulling on getting. The fine lady in the table next to ours just had to have the Baked Brie. Waiter! We’ll have that, too, please!
It was another wooden board presentation. The cheese wheel’s rind cracked to reveal the molten center, a pile of caramelized almond slivers crowning it. Thin, toasted slices of French bread dominoed alongside fresh strawberries. The baking process slightly hardened the ever so slightly chewy rind of the Brie, its texture creamier in its molten state while remaining rich taste in taste with a smooth, even flavor. Bliss in every bite.
The PussyKat had Crème Brulee on the order queue for dessert. We sadly had to cancel it due to the human physical limitation of having a single stomach. Why must cows be so blessed with four?! *sobs controllably*
This is yet another Illy surprise deserving a return visit. Till then, Ciao, R̶o̶m̶a̶n̶o̶ Mariano!
Marianos is located at Meadowlark St, Isabel Village, Pala-o, 9200 Iligan City