I like making excuses to go to Maginhawa Street, given its fine reputation for gastronomic delights and chill atmosphere. Compared to the Morato and Panay area, Maginhawa is really known for a more laidback dining and socializing experience. After our favorable experience with Breakfast and Pies, my brunch buddies Jodi and Leigh recommended Pino Resto Bar for my reunion with my college barkada.
And I am thankful for their recommendation; the place is chill, casual, and gastronomically friendly for friends who are out to catch up after months or years of not seeing each other.
Pino Resto Bar Malingap Wall Mural
Since it’s a fairly casual affair, I chose to be just as casual with my outfit:
Lacoste Bolero, Little Black Dress, Long Hair 🙂
When I was in college and starting out as an engineer, I did not bother to grow my hair long. It was too tedious. In fact, I still think it takes a lot of work to take good care of my growing hair. But I swear by the tried and tested method of cold electric fan air. I am not a fan of warm hair blowers so I manually finger comb it against a gust of cool air. I have reason to believe that it works:
Yeah, it works really well.
Years ago, this would have been unthinkable. These days, though, I have learned the moderate value of presenting myself, not out of vanity but more for consideration of the people who will be seeing me at any given time. Showing yourself prepared even in appearance conveys to people that “You are worth dressing up for.”
Some people abuse this appearance trick and get away with not knowing anything or hiding their ulterior motives by dazzling others with their presentable looks. I hated what those people represented and chose not to bother myself with my style for the longest time. Perhaps it was an attempt to spite the charlatans. But I realized later on that in doing so, I deprived myself of the ability to explore my sense of style.
It took a while for me to realize that it does not necessarily make me shallow, dumb, or full of fluff if I lift a finger occasionally to present myself in a pleasant way. Substance and style can go together, and my decision to wear something nice does not mean that I am giving up on my other deeper passions in life.
And my first college barkada would know me well enough that this is a giant leap of my impoverished fashion sense. I am quite pleased to see them last night because it’s been so long. Two in our group have already married and have 2 kids each. It’s amazing how time flies and how the effort to keep in touch becomes increasingly difficult with adult life demands:
C.H.A.R.M. – Carol, Helen, Ann Rosette, Michelle (left to right!)
The pregnant one is due anytime soon so we cannot extricate her from Maginhawa area. The Pasig girls decided to go to Malingap and pay her a long overdue visit.
Now that I have mentioned my outfit, my reason for choosing this place, and my happy companions to this gastronomic experience, I come to the main thing: the FOOD. Off the bat, the salads took my full attention and I decided to go catfish!!
Pino Resto Bar’s Catfish Salad
Crunchy texture of the catfish and mayo goes really well with the uber fresh lettuce. The cutely sliced cucumber is so-so, since I am not really a fan of cucumber. Totally love the detail on the QUAIL EGG at the bottom. But this is a biased review because I am a real quail egg fanatic. (My largest quail egg craving had me finishing off an entire bowl on my own one Christmas evening! I felt the cholesterol at the back of my neck after.)
This is part of a group of restaurants so we also had choices from the vegetarian menu, Pipino…
Pino Resto Bar and Pipino Menu
One of the highly raved food in this resto bar is the Kare Kareng Bagnet:
Pino Resto Bar’s Bestselling Kare Kareng Bagnet
Mich and I loved this one. But it depends on the person. If you are a fan of salty and do not mind the excess fried fat on a night out (there are cheat days and you can indulge!), you will probably enjoy this one. I ended up eating more from this plate than the others that we ordered.
The fried calamares is passable. Carol ended up taking this home.
The ginataang bopis was good but I fail to make a more detailed appraisal because the salad and the kare kareng bagnet took center stage in my stomach all night.
Right before the girls arrived, I managed to grab the yummy signature brewed iced tea. I like it. It’s not too sweet and you actually feel like it’s TEA.
Pino’s Signature Brewed Iced Tea
My dearly beloved SO also liked the iced tea, who passed by to say hi to my college CHARM BFFs. Sharing a cozy photo moment here:
I think Carol got disgruntled with the Longganisa Rice. Her inherently steep standards for Vigan longganisa kicked in so she told me to include that in this review. I am no longer eating much rice meals anyway so I let her review stand. The bagoong rice that came with the Kare Kareng Bagnet, however, is absolutely divine and I had three heaping spoonfuls. 🙂
Even in food preferences, our differences are apparent. But that’s what makes this group really special. We are all so different and yet so together. I realized that this was somehow a gift from God, to stay this long with this set of friends without becoming disinterested. You do not always grow up with people. Some people just grow apart, and I am thankful that even if it’s hard and I am already a pseudo-hermit with my lifestyle, I still have these wonderful girls in my life:
12 Years of CHARMed Friendship
Earlier in college years, I was not sure that we’d last this long because we have all gone in different directions. But it actually happens these days that I see them as the ninangs of my future children. I see combined family swimming parties in our futures. In college, that would not be something I can easily imagine. I appreciate that even if we chose to meet in a far place, Carol went all the way from Mall of Asia just to see the group. As we got older, my love for this group grew exponentially (that term exactly because we became the CHARM group at UP’s Math building!).
Carol, the Calculus genius (for more reasons than one), now has two wonderful kids. Mich’s second baby is on the way, who I believe will sing great songs like her and her hubby. And my Korean rock band gal pal Rosette is still her quiet self but just as delightful. Rosette is in fact planning to buy her home soon.
There were so many things we did not know about each other from the months we spent apart. This meetup rarely happens (but we swear to do it more frequently everytime!) so we ended up moving to Infinitea after Pino closed at midnight. It was such a shame since we really enjoyed the nice ambience and I liked looking at the abstract pastel paintings:
We savored each other’s catching up stories and enjoyed the rich texture of Pino Resto Bar’s Chocolate Tablea dessert. We shared the calories with a single slice:
Pino Choco Tablea
It was really rich and textured, very much like my friendship with the CHARM girls. (I must say though, that when it comes to tablea or chocolate I believe that Chocolat’s Death by Tablea and Xocolat’s Salted Caramel Brownie remain unparalleled in awakening taste bud sensations.)
Regarding staff service, I must say it’s stellar. They are super polite and more than happy to indulge in our slew of SELFIES. The girls all have Facebook; I had to ask them to email me. Totally primitive and ironic.
My Friday just went from drab and predictable to nostalgically fabulous because of the CHARMers I am with, plus the wonderful chillax experience of Pino Resto Bar.
Pino Resto Bar
39 Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village – East
Diliman, Quezon City
Pino Resto Bar Store Hours
Budget: Php 250 to 500 per head
(this really depends on number of viands, pitchers of iced tea consumed, and dessert preference)
Ideal for: Casual dining, Catching up, Relaxing after a hard day’s work