Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mediterranean Made Simple: Sophia's Cusina at BF Homes Parañaque

Every now and then, Jericho and I like to check out a new place in the vast and ever changing restaurant scene in BF International. The landscape seems to change every three months - bars and restaurants open and close, hoping to be the next best thing that's ever happened to the huge village.

On one particularly hungry evening, we once again made our way to BF International in search of grub that would fill our growling bellies. After cruising Aguirre Avenue, Sophia's Cuisina caught our eye. Were were warmly greeted by the owner, Chef Mervyn Whitfield, coming in, and we had a nice chat about why he thought of bringing a Greek-inspired restaurant down south whilst waiting for our orders. Not that I'm complaining - it's high time we had good souvlaki over here!

Read more on restaurants in BF Homes Parañaque:
Ritchie's Diner: Classic American Favorites at BF Homes Parañaque
Sexy Comfort Food at Borgo Café in BF Homes Parañaque
Super Cheap Korean BBQ at Chang Teo
Dim Sum Delights at BF Homes Parañaque's Mandarin Palace
Don Limone at BF Homes Parañaque

Chef Mervyn may be quiet, but all the news articles on the wall tell a different story. Dubbed, "The 6th Beatle" by magazines and newspapers, this chef hobnobbed with the Beatles (and getting kicked out of the Philippines when the Beatles incurred Imelda Marcos' ire), acting as the road manager for the band that did their opening act, before he started cooking.

After a very successful culinary career in London, he then found himself in the Philippines where he met the love of his life and decided to settle down here, putting up Sophia's Cusina in Alabang. Although the restaurant has moved to its more modest space now, the food, the chef, and the shabby chic blue-and-white decor still remain.

We started dinner with Tiropita (P249) - a mix of spinach, feta cheese, and herbs wrapped in filo pastry on a bed of Romaine lettuce. The spinach, herbs and salty, crumbly feta complemented each other really well, with the delicate filo pastry keeping it all together.

Jericho ordered the Beef Souvlaki (P285) that came with some pita bread (or rice, if you'd like), tzatziki, and a small (albeit generous) Roka salad. Mervyn doesn't skewer the beef, since grilling the traditional way (over charcoal) would smoke the entire restaurant, so he settles for stove top grilling instead. The beef was well-spiced but a bit tough, and although I loved the traditional cucumber-yogurt dip, Jericho preferred to have his with plain yogurt and eventually, hummus.

I opted for the Chicken Gyros (P250) which came with a spiced tzatziki and a side of fries. The chicken meat looked a bit sad, splayed over my gyros, hidden among the leafy greens. When I picked it up to take a bite, oil started drizzling out the end and onto my plate. Not dripping.Drizzling. That sure was a lot of oil. I added the fried to my soggy gyros for added flavor and support, and it didn't seem to bad after.

The restaurant is family-run, with Mervyn's wife acting as our server, his young son helping with some of the clean up, and Mervyn himself managing front of house and occasionally, the kitchen. We found it super weird that the whole family just upped and left to go home before the restaurant closed (but they did say goodbye first!), leaving the line cook to attend to us instead. We were thinking of ordering dessert,  but felt bad for the cooks being left to their own devices 'til 10pm that we just skipped it and asked for the bill. If the owners were calling it an early night, we might as well have the rest of his staff enjoy the rest of the night off, too.

We had always been meaning to check the place out, but my love for Korean dok bok keeps trumping our foodventure and we almost always end up at the super affordable Korean joint, Jang Teo, across the road. I'm glad we finally took the time to check them out.

So when mucking around BF International, give Sophia's Cucina a try!  I think this place has a lot of potential, and I'll probably be back to try some of their more traditional dishes like the Osso Bucco and Mushroom Risotto and see how they fare.

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Photos taken by Jericho San Miguel

Sophia's  Cucina
+63 2 870 0703
Aguirre Ave., BF International