Last Christmas, Chef Kevin received an order for 108 cheesecakes from a mystery girl named “Anne”. Intrigued at who this mystery cheesecake monster could be, they did some investigation. Eventually, they discovered this ‘Anne’** did not only have exceptional taste- (because she actually is a chef herself) but also a huuuuuge Philippine celebrity. It was no other than – Judy Ann Santos!
(** Correction from earlier post- NOT Anne Curtis. :) Thanks Albert for the correcting that. Will lecture Dan on Philippine celebrities! hahaha;) )
Judy Ann Santos ordered 108 cheesecakes
Fast forward a few months, Chef Kevin and husband, Albert decided to leave Makati to relocate to the awesomest city north of Manila. That’s Baguio, of course. This blog ain’t called Eats in Baguio for nothin’. ;)
I invited them to talk about their cheesecakes and their newly opened diner at my radio show. Chef Kevin delighted me ( and the rest of the radio crew ) with some of his best selling cheesecakes. It disappeared quickly. I was only able to take one bite of each cheesecake. Wanting more, I decided to head out to go to their diner in Bakakeng.
Ozark Cheesecake Line Up
The view from the diner is awesome- very Baguio! And yep- that’s Mt. Santo Tomas!
View from Ozark at dusk.
My friend and I saved our appetite for a big American sized meal. So I ordered the Hickory Smoked Chicken and picked Dirty Rice and Hoppin’ John as my two sides. Take note that your hickory chicken experience depends largely on the two sides you will choose. Choose wisely. Don’t be like me – picking the flavor packed rice and strongly flavored black eyed peas at the same time. Eaten together with the smoked chicken, you’ll confuse your taste buds.
Hickory Smoked Chicken with Dirty Rice and Smokin’ Joe
Pair it with a green salad and the creamy and mildly flavored mac and cheese. That way the flavors and textures complement each other, rather than compete with each other. I tried other hickory flavored dishes in the Philippines – but the problem is- it was just flavor that was added in. Ozark’s Hickory Smoked Chicken is the real thing. Real hickory wood, real smoke in a nice, fancy, custom built smoker. I say fancy because the only smokers I’ve seen are made from “repurposed” materials. (Read- yero and wood! :) )
My friend Aguinaya ordered the pulled pork sandwich served with a huge side of freshly cooked , crispy fried potatoes. Not the frozen ones. Ah- I can devote one blog entry just for their fries! And I love how they make their own buns. So for this heavy-weight sandwich, the buns held the tasty pulled pork together!
But wait, there’s more. Dan, the general manager said that they wanted to put up a place which served food the way it is served “back home” ( in the US). The serving size is definitely American- and the price is diner-friendly. One side that took me “back home” (okay, theirs, not mine. :) ) is this creamy mac and cheese side. I don’t know what they put in it or what cheese they use but I love how it’s mildly flavored and doesn’t scream “cheese” at you.
Mac and Cheese
For dessert, I ordered their dark beer cheesecake special. Not sure if I had too much going on in my mouth already or if I was expecting too much beer in my cheesecake! Haha.
Dark Beer Cheesecake
But I like the overall texture and creaminess of their cheesecake. It’s a little tangy, mildly sweet, dense and smooth to the taste. Reminds me of the Junior’s Cheesecake I had in New York. What better place to find NY Cheesecake but in NY, right? But in Baguio, I can say this is the best I’ve ever had! Another must try is their sili labuyo cheesecake. It’s an exciting twist to your cheesecake experience.
Not only do they have the good ‘ole American South comfort foods and awesome cheesecakes but , they also have – wait for it- Adult Shakes- as opposed to the Juvenile Shakes :). No, they’re not named after strippers or anything kinky. But you might turn kinky and strip if you have too much of it! Haha! Just ask the server about the available Adult shakes for the day.
Coming to Ozark was a filling experience! The servings were huge. The price was just right. Actually- super affordable compared to “American” restaurants downtown. When you come over for meals- make sure to try anything that’s smoked- whether it’s the chicken or the porkchop. It’s hard to get that authentic hickory smoked flavor in Baguio City. Of course, don’t forget to try out their famous cheesecakes that launched a hundred orders.
To go to Ozark, your best bet is to follow the road that leads to SLU Maryheights / Bakakeng Campus and ask around for “Goshenland” / North Cambridge. From the main road, take the steep Bareng Drive and you’ll see an unmarked small white building right beside a big yellow building.(hooray for my directions). Or if you have Googlemaps or Waze, it should be pretty easy to follow. My taxi driver simply knew the area as “Goshenland”.
Ozark Diner officially opens in August 2014. The minimalist look you see here is temporary. :)
Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ozarkbaguiocity