It was the cauliflower and broccoli in spicy buffalo batter that made me happy, and made the hour-and-a-half drive worth it.
No, they don’t taste like buffalo wings but they’re as good as the chicken version even for a meat lover like me.
The new Farmer’s Table restaurant at Nurture Wellness Village in Tagaytay is the perfect getaway for people who want to leave the city for a day, a meal, a weekend. It’s an easy drive from the south now that CALAX is open, and for people coming from the north, Skyway 3 cuts the trip significantly shorter.
Farmer’s Table is operated by Raintree Hospitality Group, whose restaurants include Saboten, Izakaya Senzu, M Café at the Ayala Museum, Terraz at Zuellig Building, Motto Motto, Chelsea, Cha Cha’s Boracay, The Coconut Club and Chotto Matte.
We are told that the village has always had this al-fresco space but didn’t really know what to do with it. Raintree came in last year and renovated it—and now it looks so fresh, wonderful and airy with its light colors.
If you have a keen design eye, you’ll notice chairs and pendant lights derived from restaurants such as M Café, Chelsea and others.
According to Raintree Group president Annabella Wisniewski, it was a unique opportunity they didn't want to miss. “It became more meaningful during the pandemic as we are able to help alleviate the plight of many struggling people through job creation and at the same time help lift the low morale of the community through a new and vibrant project.”
For this new venture, Raintree corporate chef Kalel Chan came up with an incredibly delicious vegan and vegetarian menu, and threw in all-time faves that people drive up to Tagaytay for, like bulalo, tawilis and kare-kare.
“Most of our ingredients come from within the two to three-kilometer radius around the restaurant— from our very own farm picked just this morning,” says Kalel.
Cathy Brillantes Turvill, owner of Nurture Wellness Village, tells PhilSTAR L!fe that they included meat items on the menu—such as bulalo, kare-kare, steak, osso bucco and seafood guava sinigang—for people’s “cheat day.”
So, it’s an “inclusive” menu! She laughs and says, yes, because one of worst things for a healthy restaurant is to have meat-loving diners come away still feeling hungry.
Of course, the highlights are the vegan and vegetarian dishes—because you don’t go to a place like Nurture Wellness Village, whose whole entire concept is healthy living, and not try what they’ve perfected for the past decade or so.
Its Kale Caesar Salad substitutes bread croutons with tofu, the dressing with cashew, caper and lemon. It has a vegan burger and a beef burger too, both delicious and come with fries and fresh veggie sticks like singkamas, carrot and green pepper. The Garden Fresh Lumpiang Ubod comes with arugula, roasted sesame peanuts, and muscovado sauce, while the Langka Vegetable Green Curry is topped with cashews from Palawan and Thai-style green coconut kale curry sauce. The Roasted Harissa Meatballs are stuffed with herb mozzarella in shakshuka tomato bell pepper stew.
The vegetables and herbs are harvested from Nurture Farmacy, the wellness center's own organic farm. The Turvills say that the restaurant is their own way of living the locavore way, focusing on “fresh and sustainable produce that's not just good for the body but also for the mind.”
Seafood and meat lovers will enjoy the local specialty Crispy Tawilis, Shrimp, Calamari and Garden Vegetables served with remoulade dip, Asian herb vinegar and fresh lemon and herbs.
“We wanted to highlight farm ingredients as well as products from surrounding areas such as beef and seafood from Batangas, coffee and longganisa from Amadeo next door, and a local brewery named Monkey Eagle located very near our restaurant,” says Martin Wisniewski, vice president of Raintree Hospitality Group.
There’s also Tinapa Cream and Kale Dip, and Vegan Longganisa Dip. I hardly see see tinapa in Manila supermarkets and this takes me back to eating tinapa, rice and carabao’s milk for breakfast in my lola’s house in the province.
For its Farmhouse Specials, go for the Sizzling Giant Bangus a la Pobre (it really is huge) served with salpicao dip and lemon.
Oh and the truffle dishes! There’s pasta and adlai caldo, the latter topped with truffle cream and kale chips.
Meat lovers will enjoy Garlic Rosemary Salpicao with US beef, Bone Marrow Bulalo, Beef Kare-Kare sa Buntot and Kalderetang Osso Bucco.
The Farmer's Table is divided into three sections: the Boutique Market, which serves local delicacies, Nurture Wellness signature products, and the weekend pop-up store for the freshest fruits and vegetables from the local area; the Artisanal Baker, which offers freshly made breads and pastries, as well as a coffee and juice bar; and the Garden Bistro, which houses the main dining hall and events garden terrace, which can hold intimate celebrations and meetings away from the city.
“We knew a lot of our guests from our Manila restaurants could not travel abroad or even to farther provinces, so we thought this would be the perfect al fresco, pandemic-friendly kind of place. Tagaytay is close enough to Metro Manila to travel for the day or the weekend where most city dwellers could get much needed breathing space and indulge in tasty, fresh food,” says Martin Wisniewski.
The Farmer's Table is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., located at at Nurture Wellness Village, Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II, West Cavite, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 905 387 7993, 0960 928 3142 or email [email protected]. Follow their Facebook and Instagra, pages @farmerstabletagaytay
Banner photo (left) by Tanya Lara