Ozark Diner

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

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

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.

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

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! :) )

Smoker

Smoker

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!

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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

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

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.

Adult Shake

Adult Shake

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. :)

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

L’Ami Frenchy

When I think of French chef in the Philippines, I automatically think of the time when I lived in Sagada and spent a lot of my Saturdays at the Log Cabin Buffet- where French chef- Aklay (Philippe) whipped up some fine fine food made from local ingredients. He cured his own ham, grew his own lavender, baked his own bread, and so on and so forth. That’s how I started to get more and more interested about food!

Aklay biked half of the world and eventually reached Brunei- where he was pastry chef for the Sultan of Brunei. Needless to say, I looked forward to his decadent desserts and other creations week after week after week. And yep- I made sure I bought and sent home his breads as often as I could.

His pastry and bread creations have become my standard for well- pastry and bread. Haha. This is important FYI so you know where I’m coming from! Hehe.

 

L'Ami Frenchy Bakeshop

 

And so – L’Ami Frenchy! Chef Eric did not bike to Baguio. hehe. He came with his Filipina wife from Bicol and decided to set up shop in Baguio City just because they like it here. Well, we like you too, Chef and Mrs Chef! Thanks for choosing Baguio.

Don't be shy, Chef Eric! ;)

Don’t be shy, Chef Eric! ;)

L’Ami is a bright spot in the Baguio food scene. It’s refreshing to see a new player in the Baguio food scene that’s not a  Burger-Pizza-Pasta joint. hehe.

The French are invading Baguio City and we like it! Hehe

The French are invading Baguio City and we like it! Hehe

So what is L’Ami all about? First time I heard it- I knew it was a play of words. Lami in Bisaya means delicious. L’Ami in French means friend. So L’Ami Frenchy could either be “delicious French” or “French friend” . Both are applicable!

The interiors are inspired by a garden setting. Check out their iron-wrought chairs and marble-top tables and an indoor fountain!

The interiors are inspired by a garden setting. Check out their iron-wrought chairs and marble-top tables and an indoor fountain! Our butts were treated well by these nice cushions!

I came with some Baguio-based blogger friends. I like being part of this tiny group that aims to promote new Baguio businesses! And L’Ami were generous enough to stuff us until we said no more. True story.

Check out their cakes!

Cake line up at L'ami Frenchy

Cake line up at L’ami Frenchy

In our tiny group of four, 3 thought Prestige cake was the best! The mousse at the bottom was light and airy, blended with the custardy- caramel on top and the chocolate in the middle plus the slab of chocolate- on the side. WOW! We were enchanted! It felt like ice cream but it was even much better. The flavors and textures were absolutely gorgeous. There was no one dominant element. They all just blended in!

L'ami Frenchy's Prestige Cake

L’ami Frenchy’s Prestige Cake

On second place was the Citron or the lemon tart.  The rich lemon filling’s zing was amazing with the short bread crust. Add in some meringue on top- and now you have a party on your mouth.

Tarte au Citron at L'ami Frenchy

Tarte au Citron at L’ami Frenchy

The single serve tart

The single serve tart

I’ll add in the details later. But this was good too. It’s a much denser and richer version of the mousse in the Prestige cake. Do not eat this slice alone. It’s best shared. Or just eat it sloooowly. It’s the best way to enjoy the rich flavor!

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It wasn’t all chocolate and caramel! They also had this mango-strawberry cake! Cake was dense and moist and not too sweet. I love the tanginess of strawberry and mango in a cake!

Mango-strawberry cake

Mango-strawberry cake

And then – there were the truffles! Ooooh boy. These little critters maybe tiny but you watch out for the explosion of that rich chocolate filling inside your mouth. The semi-bitter cocoa powder perfectly counters the sweetness of the truffle’s core.

Truffles

Truffles

The verdict? Does it measure up to my Aklay pastry experience! You bet. I miss the “rustic-ness” of Aklay’s creations though. And ah, I still dream of his Opera cake! He was right to say that it was the best cake ever. The coffee , orange, rum, some sort of herb combo was something I always looked forward to on his dessert table. But Sagada’s so far. Hehe. I’m glad I have a new French friend in Baguio! L’Ami Frenchy!

But wait there’s more. There’s more to cakes in L’Ami Frenchy. They also have sandwiches, breads, croissants and crepes — oh and make sure to check with them if they have the Zucchini soup available for that day. That was superb!

 

Zucchini Soup

Zucchini Soup

We also tried their sandwiches- Le Parisiene and Le Normand. Both are fresh sandwiches made with ham, butter , cheese, with side of salad. Le Normand – had boiled egg and a special kind of French Cheese. The baguette turned a little tough and chewy though because of Baguio’s humidity. The ham was store bought- so it didn’t really have a strong, characteristic flavor to it- even it were smoked. The ingredients were fresh though. The lettuce was crunchy, there was a generous serving of tomatoes and eggs. And the cheese was special. Definitely not Eden cheese. Hehe.

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Le Parisiene

They also have croissants like this. This is the creamy almond croissant. It looked like it could use a little cheering up. Hehe. But it does taste better than it looks on my picture although- I like my croissants flakier and less dense, I guess.

Creamy almond croissant

Creamy almond croissant

We also feasted on this breakfast special. The burger steak was definitely NOT the frozen kind. It was juicy and flavorful. The fries were fried to crispy perfection. And the crepe balanced the saltiness of the other members of the plate!

Burger Steak Crepe

Burger Steak Crepe

The cost? :) How much would you pay for pastry that’s made with fresh butter, fresh milk and fresh cream? If you pay for 80 pesos for a slice of cake, you get 80 pesos. The small personal size Lemon tart is about 135 pesos. The Burger Steak Crepe meal is 315 pesos. The Sandwiches are at least 200 pesos. A small cake is at least 1100 pesos, a slice for maybe about 180 or 200. Definitely not cheap because they aren’t cheap. I like how there’s a shop like this so you don’t have to go to a posh hotel or restaurant. The ambiance is bright, youthful and friendly.

L’ami Frenchy is a great place to have your afternoon merienda. Eat like the French- eat slow! That’s the only way to get the most out of your amazing cakes.

The future for L’ami Frenchy looks bright as long as they capture their target market and become consistent with their quality products. It also doesn’t hurt to have a few more workers to help them out and I hope they get real good and friendly ones that matches their bright atmosphere. Right now with just two of them running the show, it’s a lot of work.  Give them more work by showing some Baguio love to our French-Bicolana couple. I’m really glad they picked Baguio to set up their shop.

Check out their Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/lamifrenchy

If you’re coming from town, they’re located at the end of the BGH flyover, right across the pink Pharmacy. It’s the same building Jade Restuarant/ Red Lion/ Bam Benny’s were once at.