Family and food always go together in our house. I grew up in a kitchen where all the members of my big family would come together sharing chores and lively talk. Afterwards, we would all cram side by side in our tiny dining table and continue jabbering. My mom divulged that she deliberately chose a small table to force all her kids to share the space and get used to one another. Her tactic worked. Until now, we derive so much fun using that same table. My parents would just shove another table down one end to accommodate all their grandchildren.
While doing kitchen chores and finding joy in tight spaces with family have stayed with me all these years, I was not able to get the hang of cooking. I am notorious for overdoing a hardboiled egg. But I do appreciate a well thought out dish that makes my taste buds sing and looks pretty enough to post in Instagram. I am proud to say that like my siblings, I love good food.
Discovering places where food looks as good as they taste is a new tradition my husband and I practice in our own family. And Taza is one such recent discovery that enables us to enjoy family and food in one setting. Located inside the only 4-star hotel in Tagaytay, Taal Vista Hotel, this restaurant offers the unbeatable one-two punch of a lake view and edible art that nourishes with every plate.
In addition to the stunning looks of its dishes, the menu at Taza changes seasonally. What the chef creates is largely influenced by what’s available locally. Many of their offerings also come in shareable portions that my family approves of. There is nothing more heartwarming than a family meal with laughter, talk and a lot of crossover motions with plates being passed around.
The first time our family had dinner at Taza was a revelation. We literally had a feast of both regular dishes and seasonal offerings. For starters, we had Mezze, servings of flat bread and four delicious dips: Olive tapenade, Chorizo with garlic, Hummus and Spinach with bacon jam. We were taken with Taza’s Ribolita (market vegetables, tomato, kale, white beans and wheat bread). It melted in the mouth and the tomato-based sauce was perfect. The Kale and Barley Salad has organic Kale, cucumber, pepper, onion, olives, local ricotta cheese and roasted vegetable vinaigrette. I especially loved the crispy bacon toppings and the barley grains had me thinking of substituting barley for rice on a more regular basis. Sumptuous! Salsa Verde with homemade pancetta and Laguna de mozzarella tasted and smelled as fresh as Mother Nature intended. The restaurant’s version of Cannelloni uses braised pork’s head with herbs and ricotta cheese stuffed in homemade pasta, topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. We thoroughly enjoyed the Uni Pasta made with Pangasinan Sea Urchin, leeks, tomato and squid ink spaghetti. Definitely a must-try if uni is in your basic food group. The Lengua was so flavorful and tender using Braised Batangas Ox tongue with carrots, haricot verts, marble potato, mushroom and truffle cream sauce. The fresh and satisfying Roasted Pompano Fillet with potato, tomato, cider lemon sauce was a hit with my man. Mushroom and Spinach Matagliati features a trio of Tagaytay mushrooms (oyster, shiitake and button mushrooms) mixed with crème fraiche and truffle oil. Two thumbs up and dreaming that I can cook this at home. But hands down, the dish that stole our hearts was the Tomahawk Pork Chop with caramelized onions, bananas and pork jus. Honestly, this dish has invaded my dreams at night. Can’t sleep. Must go back even if having my fill made my tummy look two months preggers.
After all that food, we had to have a dessert of Banana Ricotta Tart (homemade ricotta, Tagaytay lacatan banana ice cream). Slightly tart and sweet at the same time, a perfect note to end an incredible meal. While the ambiance is certainly more upscale than the small, homey dining area I grew up in, or the warm and cozy tablescape in my own home, Taza gets my family’s vote for the perfect place to
dine in…preferably a few times a month. The excellent menu options, the bags of flavor in each plate and its quiet yet efficient service are enough reasons for my family to dine out.
It may also be because their mom (me!) can never, ever, come close to replicating the dishes they serve. To this I can only think, “Thank God for Taza!”
Taza is one of the sublime restaurants located at Taal Vista Hotel’ Km. 60, Aguinaldo Highway Tagaytay City 4120. For inquiries and reservations, please call 02.917.8225 or 046.413.1000