Me and three of my favorite ladies headed to Tagaytay last Sunday and for dinner, we decided to try out Balay Dako, one of the restaurants under Antonio’s chain. I’ve been seeing photos of this and thought it would be a wonderful venue for some ladylike-‘sister’ bonding. Haha! You won’t miss Balay Dako because it has a huge sign along the highway, near the famous Leslie’s. Parking is not a problem, which is great.
We arrived at Balay Dako at around 5:45pm which was the perfect time since there’s still some waiting time for available seats (we requested for a table near the window) and for the food to be served. A small deli is available at the entrance selling home made marmalade, pastries, fresh produce and other food items. By 6:15pm, people were already starting to flock in and by 6:45pm, the place was already full. As with their brand, Balay Dako features open windows for some natural fresh air so eating dinner there was very chilly. Instead of an all white interior like in Breakfast at Antonio’s, their color centered on green and really looked like an old, big house owned by your rich uncle.
They have a second floor which overlooks the Taal lake and has some shrubbery. At the second floor, you may dine al fresco or inside, which looks like a bar or a drinking room for your uncle’s friends after dinner.
On to the food. We ordered their sinigang na lechon baboy (P560+), tawilis (P250+), Antonio’s special pansit (P300+) and three cups of rice (P45 each). Serving is huge and our orders were good enough for the four of us. But I am really sad to say that I didn’t particularly enjoy their food. The sinigang was extremely salty for me. This might be since I’ve been consciously taking out salt in my diet (like no salt on my poached eggs) and therefore, my taste buds are probably used to eating bland food. But still, the soup was just too much. Then the meat was just made up of pork knuckles. I don’t know what I expected or if I just didn’t read the description right but when I saw sinigang na lechon baboy, I expected more than just knuckles. They also could’ve added more veggies, given the steep price. The tawilis – though according to my mom was hard to find and Tagaytay was one of the few places we could find these – was nothing special. The pansit I would give more praise only because I like the thin noodles they used and the subtle chorizo flavor.
For dessert, we had the Coco Panutsa Fondue with assorted mini turrons (P120+) and Papaya with Sago (P120+). The fondue is just melted coco jam with balls of bilo-bilo in it which is served with a flame under. You dip your turrons in the coco jam as a sauce. It’s good and unique but nothing spectacular. The papaya dessert was simply blended papaya with a touch of calamansi with some sago. Again, same comment as the fondue. Food delivery really took a while – about 20-30 minutes- and unfortunately, was unforgivable given the food quality.
Another thing they should work on is their customer service. Would you believe we’ve called their number for about 20 times (no joke) to make a reservation and only on the 20th call did someone pick up? From the reception to all of the waiters who served us, one crucial thing was missing – smiling. Honestly, I don’t understand why none of them were smiling. Is it because we don’t look like we own haciendas? Or maybe they were instructed to look snobbish? Kidding. Whichever the case, their staff should really learn to smile and pretend to look ‘happy to see us there.’
Overall, I’m thinking maybe we just ordered the wrong items but really, I didn’t find anything exceptional with their food. I guess I really am not a fan of their food because I had the same none-amazing experience at Breakfast at Antonio’s.Their biggest come on though is definitely their location and ambiance, the view of Taal and the beautiful interior and exterior restaurant design.