Life in the Fast Lane


A Cozy Celebration: The Old Oven Art Café

By 9:51 AM , , , , , , , , ,

For a while now, my brother Chuck had been telling me about this place he discovered, the Old Oven Art Café. I'd been wanting to go there, but for no particular reason, never found the time to do so.

Finally, last night, the family and I dined there to celebrate Chuck's birthday belatedly as well as his fifth year work anniversary with GMA Marketing.

I remember back in high school, I dreamed of partnering with my mom to put up an art café. Funny, because I don't cook at all. Which is where my mom would come in; she'd do the cooking and I'd take care of the interiors and the concept of the café. Of course, years later, this idea, like many of my memories, disappeared — only to resurface last night as soon as I set foot inside the café.

Old Oven is located along Katipunan Avenue, near St. Ignatius Village. It's on the second floor of a building, on top of an HBC (the convenience/drugstore, not the bank). You might miss it because the sign's small and not that easy to spot. In fact, it's right by the windows of the restaurant itself on the second floor.

As soon as you go up the narrow staircase to the left of HBC, what greets you is a homey, cozy ambiance. And a bunch of photos, trinkets, and bangles. Oh, the jewelry's for sale.

I loved the set-up, pretty much. Wooden tables and chairs, food photos hanging on a clothesline with clothespins, paintings for sale, little odds and ends here and there. Again, my high school dream was starting to manifest itself and remind me of what I missed out on.

There was even a little nook where people could read and play some of the restaurant's boardgames.

While waiting for the food, my family and I played several rounds of Boggle. We're game geeks like that.

Since there were no sheets of paper, pencils, and a timer, we made use of our smartphones instead. Technology meets a classic game.

The café started to fill up pretty quickly (it's rather small; it can only accommodate around 20 people max) and according to the manager, they were understaffed last night. The second chef wasn't able to make it, so we had some waiting to do.

We just hoped that the food would be worth it. Chuck assured us that it would.

From the appetizers alone, we could tell that our entrées would be worth the wait. We ordered mushroom al ajillo (PhP 125) and chili fries (PhP 135). Both were flavorful and whetted our appetites for our actual meals.

Drinks were served in jars, which I thought was a nice twist.

Finally, one by one, our dishes started to arrive.

My brothers and I ordered burgers: CJ's was a bacon cheeseburger, mine was your standard cheeseburger (PhP 150), and Chuck's was a mushroom cheeseburger.

The burgers are served with garlic fries and iced tea, and they didn't disappoint. The beef was tender and juicy, the mozzarella was of the melt-in-your-mouth sort, and every bite was a piece of heaven. I love burgers and I considered these to be amazing.

My mom ordered a mushroom truffle risotto (PhP 210). Her last risotto was from Conti's, which was disappointing because it was dry and bland. She likes her risotto gooey and packed with flavor. Thankfully, Old Oven's delivered and then some.

My dad ordered pan-fried fish (forgot to note the price!), served with a sauce that I wasn't able to identify since I didn't get to taste it. He had no complaints, though. He was a happy camper who was silently enjoying his meal 'til the last bite.

(Also, I happened to note that their plates didn't always match. Given the theme of this café, it added to the artsy vibe. This particular plate, with its handpainted "typography" all around, stood out.)

My sister, Cooks, ordered barbecued pork ribs with corn salsa (again, was too busy eating my burger to note the price; sorry!), and hers was the last to arrive. My photo didn't do this dish justice, though. Since the lighting in the café was rather dim, we had to make do by providing an additional source of light; this one was c/o the flashlight app in Chuck's Samsung Galaxy SIII.

According to Cooks, the ribs were really tender and flavorful, and the strips would fall off instantly once you bit into it. She also enjoyed the mashed potato and corn salsa sidings.

We were so stuffed, we didn't have room in our bellies for dessert. We'll definitely have to go back and try their other menu items soon.

Needless to say, though we had to wait a while (almost an hour, actually, since they were understaffed last night), we forgot about the long wait.

The Old Oven Art Café is a great place to hang with your friends, your special someone, and your family. Basically, it's a place for everyone. Just make sure to reserve in advance since the café is pretty small and can fill up easily.

I think I should make plans to go back soon and bring my friends.

Thanks for dinner, Chuck! We had a great time!

Old Oven Art Café
136 Katipunan Ave.,

Saint Ignatius, Quezon City
(02) 345-1243

P300-P500/pax for an appetizer, entrée, drink and dessert

Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am to 12mn.
Open Sundays, 6pm to 12mn.

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