Monday, July 8, 2013

Tagaytay Revisited

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Summer passed us by without so much as a vacation. My three sporty kids have been pre-occupied with the United Football League tournaments this summer and we had no time to spend any family time. With the 4-day long weekend break this July, it was the best time for us to schedule a trip to a favorite destination not so far away from Manila - Tagaytay.

It has been several months since we last explored this beauty. Even after visiting this touristy place, we can't seem to get tired of this city for its many offerings.

Check out some of our new discoveries:

1. Taal Vista Hotel v2

The Taal Vista at night

We stayed in this hotel because of a value deal promised by Deal Grocer. This English Tudor mansion style hotel founded in 1839 has been the pre-eminent vantage point of the stunning view of the Taal Lake and Volcano. Renovated and bought by the SM group, it is still a landmark because of its unsurpassed location and view. 

A view of Taal Lake and Volcano from the ridge.

Spacious but less than satisfactory room accommodation.

Sadly, the amenities and service are still lacking in the premium and first class category they are promising. Two single beds with one pillow each bed, not the double bed two-pillow comfort from many of their competitor hotels. Tipid! 

The TV system is hardly a very convenient and easy thing to operate. Takes you roughly 30 minutes to figure it out, and when you thought you already got the hang of it, you realize, you didn't. 

The buffet breakfast is not something you'd bother waking up to. It is just something to put food in your tummy - not appeatizing, not interesting. Not surprisingly, it is what it is, coming from the SM Group. Always aspiring, but never delivering. 


2. The Cliffhouse

This is a restaurant and dessert/coffee stopover along the Aguinaldo highway. This is their entrance. 

Cliffhouse by day...

 ...charming and foggy at night.

We checked out four of their popular tenants:

A. Fire Lake Grill

This fine dining restaurant by Chef Paul Huang serves Continental grill and is named Philippines and Asia Tattler's best restaurants in the Philippines for a few consecutive years.

Cozy minimalist dining area

Blackened beef salad with Asian greens in sesame Thai chili dressing and blue cheese is just simply amazing!

Braised Australian lamb shank with saffron risotto is to die for!

Cream cheese sauce penne pasta with US top blade is too creamy even for the kids.

Fettucini pasta in black truffle cream sauce with smoked garlic and shiitake mushroom is just too much for our taste buds. A few spoonfuls would be enough. The black truffle cream sauce is just too overpowering.

Now this USDA Angus steak is just tenderly delicious! Two thumbs up!

Food and service are top notch.
MY RATING: 8/10 

B. Buon Giorno

Day bed seating that are sure to lure you to plop your fatigue away.

Buon Giorno Special Salad with sweet vinaigrette. Nothing fancy and special but the greens are fresh.

This gamberetti and vongole pasta was a surprising treat!

 The four cheese pizza is really disappointing. It tasted like one of those frozen pizzas you can buy from the supermarkets. 

We had lunch at this much talked about place but there were just too many flies about and the food was really overrated. 

The only redeeming factor was the breathtaking view of the Taal Lake and Volcano from the ridge.


C. Fruits in Ice Cream Summer Cafe

Great service for this ice cream cafe. Enjoyed our dessert, especially when it's free, care of Standard Chartered Credit Card promo.


D. Cafe Breton

Our favorite crepe cafe is also here in Cliffhouse. What a nice surprise! 

They served a generous heaping of nutella in our crepe which the kids really liked, a lot!


3. Caleruega Church and Renewal Center

This Mexican Spanish architectural Transfiguration Chapel that sits in the highest point in Nasugbu Batangas by the Dominican order is very popular for weddings because of its location.

The circular driveway greeted us to the Renewal Center.

This beautiful sculpture of the Risen Christ was made by Benhur Villanueva.

Charming signboards you can find inside the Center.

Picnic and camping site for those who would like to have a relaxed afternoon...

The hanging bridge and Koi pond - the kids simply love this place!

Surprisingly beautiful scenic and nature inspired Caleruega is definitely something to visit. Amazing place!


4. Guinness Book of World Records' Puzzle Mansion

This Guiness Book of World Records Puzzle Mansion is in Brgy Asisan. 

The mansion houses around 250 framed puzzles by Gina Gil Lacuna.

There is also a modest bed and breakfast offering in the Puzzle Mansion with a pool and a great garden.


5. Paseo de Sta Rosa

This Greenfield property is conveniently located along Sta Rosa highway and houses several restaurants and popular stores from the Metro. 

It is a haven for outlet stores in the south south as Adidas, Nike, Mizuno, Speedo, Crocs, Nine West, Debenhams, Marks and Spencers, Rudy Project, and so much more! Prizes are definitely rock bottom, discounts for as low as 70% off. 

It is also a great place to find popular restaurants such as this one, Kanin Club, a Filipino specialty restaurant, where we met with our friends from the South.

With longtime friends, Mario and Fe Reburiano, with their their brood.

Food was good, especially their pork barbecue, sans the usual skewers, the camaron, the kare-kare, crispy pata, and pancit canton. Service was quick and waiters were very courteous. We got a table right away, too!


The best part with vacations is meeting up with friends and sharing stories you have told to each other a thousand times over and over again, but you still laugh at them so hard just like the first time.

We only missed one destination, the Ilog Maria Bee Farm located in Silang, Cavite. Well, we can always reserve a day trip to Tagaytay. This way, we have another reason to visit this charming city in the South.


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