Seeing Jen (or Jeannel, as what everyone else calls her) is one of my first agenda upon arriving in Manila. Our date has been postponed a couple of times in the past. Heck, the last time I saw her, it was Mikki’s birthday and that was more than 10 months ago! To show that I was eager to meet her, I agreed on our rendezvous at SM Megamall, a 60-90 minute commute involving two trains and one jeepney for me and a 5-minute walk for her. Then a few days before our scheduled get together, she sent me a message:
Jen: Sa Mary Grace Podium na lang tayo kain. Masarap pasta dun.
Rani: Cge2 kahit saan basta kasama ka.
Jen: Ako na sagot. Birthday treat na rin.
Rani: Sure. Di ako tumatanggi sa libre.
When I think of this establishment, the first thing that comes to mind are Christmas lights for all of their branches are decorated with them all year round. Unlike most of the Mary Grace I pass by on other malls though, the one in The Podium wasn’t full of customers. I like the mismatched chairs, the tables with notes from customers and the homey ambiance. Everything shouts comfort.
I had Smoked Salmon and Cream pasta. It was not too heavy and the serving, generous. I especially love the bread that came with my order. Instead of garlic, it had a slight hint of alcohol which was unique. Jen, who’s not a drinker, did not share my taste which means extra bread for me! hehe. My only complain is the small amount of salmon present but that can be overlooked.
Mikki had Mary Grace Mushroom Cream pasta and it was equally good as smoked salmon and cream. I like that the mushrooms were sliced into very tiny pieces which makes them edible for non-mushroom enthusiasts like me. If you can’t eat them large, chop ’em up and eat with pasta, you wouldn’t know the difference.
The best among our orders though, was Jen’s Spanish Sardines and Olive pasta. The lightness of the sauce because it’s basically only olive oil, the flavor of sardines, and the fullness of the pasta make up for a very good combination. Thanks to this I have a new found appreciation for oil-based pasta and am looking forward to trying Chorizo and Green Olive from their menu.
For desserts we had Lemon Squares, “moist lemony bites with just the right amount of tang on a buttery crust”. These tiny squares, though a bit pricey at 19 pesos each, gave justice to the very promising description. If you give me a box of 24, I’m sure I’d finish everything in no time and not feel bad nor guilty about it.
I’m actually not a fan of thick chocolate drinks because they’re too, uhm, thick. I remember not finishing even half of the famous Chocolate Eh! of Cafe Adriatico so when Jen asked us to choose among the Hot Chocolate selection of Mary Grace, I told Mikki to just share a cup with me because I would only take ONE SIP. Even if Jen insisted that Mary Grace’s Mint Chocolate is the best and even if I know for a fact that even Chabs approved of the drink, I stood firm in my decision. I don’t wanna end up wasting free drink you know.
And so the Mint Chocolate arrived. I took one sip and it was enough to make me regret my decision and kick myself for being stubborn. YES, IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOD if you don’t appreciate it, something is wrong with you. There’s just a subtle hint of mint upon drinking and then it proceeds to give your tummy a warm and nice feeling afterwards. Seriously. It was perfect with the lemon squares and I’m sure it would be perfect with anything else. Of course I did not end up having just one sip.
We decided to leave notes to be displayed on the tables. If you happen to pass by and dine in at Mary Grace in The Podium, look for an orange-colored (or was it pink?) paper with funny-looking drawings of three faces.
Enjoyed the night too much we took no notice of the time. Hence, the trains were already closed and I was forced to ride a cab home. But all the commute was worth it. The food was only 30% of the fun. These two beautiful ladies (inside and out, mind you) comprise the remaining 70!