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!

02 ozark

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

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17 thoughts on “Ozark Diner

  1. Not the case for my companion. My companion received a chicken raw. You call this quality food? Even a good chef knows when to check dishes properly. Overall, it’s either your tastebuds lack a proper pallet, or you’re all just staring at the ridiculous popularity.

    Mark my words, I will not tolerate horrible restaurants. Judging from the picture, those possible mashed potatoes look more like a pile of cartoon vomit, the cakes look too bland and boring, the pulled pork looks like intestines crawling out of a bun, that cheesy mac looks so bland and I believe with just plain pasta and cheese, would lack flavor. As for that ‘adult shake’ It does not stimulate me visually. Finally the interior, is bland, not fun enough even if it’s just starting, might as well attract.

    This is my review, a -10/10. Now, if you dare come back there. Tell this ‘Chef Kevin’, that his restaurant is a lousy excuse of fine dining and a big insult to many chefs and foodies all over the world. “Haters gonna hate”? I wouldn’t say so. I’m a critic, the mistake of raw chicken that gushes blood all over the place, should be considered unforgivable. Restaurants need style, finesse and not popularity. Quality over popularity and quantity.

    • Quick question gourmetclassyfox, are you talking about my pallet in particular? Kasi I don’t think I have one. Palate, meron. hihihi.
      Labyu. Thanks for taking time to visit my blog and leave a review.

      • Tindi ng galit mo kay Chef Kevin, girl! hehe. Also, tikman siguro muna yung ibang items bago husgahan. Di rin naman ako food photographer para pabonggahin nang todo ang hitsura ng pagkain nila don. Sabi nga sa quote, don’t judge a dish by its picture! Naks

      • I wouldn’t eat bleeding chicken. There’s a difference between pink and crimson. Salmonella is not good, might as well improve and make things fun and nice, I’d give those chefs a good thumbs up if they managed to go all out amazing. Also, I’ll give praise to the LGBT friendly idea, a really good cause. After all, critics can put down a bad review if they didn’t like it but that’s a way for improvement. I can give a big thumbs up if things turn out well!

      • In what I perceive as a histrionic rant earlier, you said: I’m a critic, the mistake of raw chicken that gushes blood all over the place, should be considered unforgivable
        But now, if I understand you correctly- you had a change of heart and now willing to forgive them – for an undercooked chicken dish?

    • Hey there gourmetclassyfox, this one’s for you. Bakit mo kasi tinanggal yung nasa blog mo? Hirap panindigan ng review na base sa litrato at sa karanasan ng ibang tao, no?

      Albert Sotelo | September 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      By all means, if the Hickory Smoked Chicken is not to your liking, return it. We’d be more than happy to correct your order, without hesitation. A word of caution though, our smoking process involves cooking LOW AND SLOW, thus creating a pink ring or what smokers call a SMOKE RING on meats.
      Rather than explaining it myself, here’s a link: http://bbq.about.com/od/barbecuehelp/g/gsmokering.htm
      Totally understandable that it is an uphill climb for Southern-style BBQ acceptance in a country where Andoks and Anasal or even Manok Ni San Pedro are king. They have their own thing going. But, for true believers of low and slow cookery, they keep asking us to pursue our process.
      Finally, OMG, we are not fine dining. We are a diner! Or, in the US, we are your equivalent of a “Karenderia” or “Eatery”.

    • Nothing worst than a hipster critic. Oh wait, there is…an uneducated illiterate hipster critic who I shall refer to from now on as “gourmetclassyfox”. You claim in your comment above that a “good chef knows when to check dishes properly”. Well, a good blogger knows how to proof read for grammatical errors and all critics know that you can only critique something after having experienced it yourself. For you to judge the taste of the food based on appearance, my goodness you must have a superpower. (FYI) There are no mashed potatoes in the photos. If you cannot properly identify dishes then how can you even judge their taste just by looking at them?

      Interior not fun enough? My dear, restaurants aren’t supposed to be “fun”. It is you the diners who bring the fun. Restaurants lay the ground work of providing good food and proper ambiance for you the diners to enjoy. Having fun is all on you. I suggest you eat at TGIF, they may provide you with some “fun” dining.

      -10 out of 10? How professional and objective of you. First of, it’s a diner. Not a 3 star Michelin Restaurant (feel free to google what a Michelin star is). A good restaurant serving delicious food will always be popular. You on the other hand have 15 minutes of fame (shame rather). Chef Kevin is doing a fine job of bringing proper authentic American food to the Philippines. You are a disgrace and an insult to all food bloggers. You may want to switch from writing a public blog to writing a personal diary.

      • Have a wonderful day. I really do not give a damn for your long and boring rant about how dining isn’t supposed to be fun and bla bla bla. I really do not care if I should change it into a personal diary for I just want to rant about how frustrating it is. Sure you could say how I’m unprofessional, well you’re just barking at a wall. I am no professional but I easily get frustrated on the lack of quality on some meals. Now, please, calm down, sand your tongue.

  2. By all means, if the Hickory Smoked Chicken is not to your liking, return it. We’d be more than happy to correct your order, without hesitation. A word of caution though, our smoking process involves cooking LOW AND SLOW, thus creating a pink ring or what smokers call a SMOKE RING on meats.
    Rather than explaining it myself, here’s a link: http://bbq.about.com/od/barbecuehelp/g/gsmokering.htm
    Totally understandable that it is an uphill climb for Southern-style BBQ acceptance in a country where Andoks and Anasal or even Manok Ni San Pedro are king. They have their own thing going. But, for true believers of low and slow cookery, they keep asking us to pursue our process.
    Finally, OMG, we are not fine dining. We are a diner! Or, in the US, we are your equivalent of a “Karenderia” or “Eatery”.

  3. I anxiously wait for gourmetclassyfox’s reply. Galing niya eh. She finds a way to re-insult Chef Kevin, you, and your photography skills in one paragraph. And misspell the word “Palate”. (oh, schadenfreude. you are so delicious.) She should start a movie review blog where every entry is “I haven’t seen it but I know someone who has.”

  4. “those possible mashed potatoes look more like a pile of cartoon vomit, the cakes look too bland and boring, the pulled pork looks like intestines crawling out of a bun, that cheesy mac looks so bland and I believe with just plain pasta and cheese, would lack flavor. ”

    I went through the blog 5 times looking for mashed potatoes, so I’m gonna take a wild guess and say she was referring to the Hoppin’ John (next to the smoked chicken). So, she misidentified a dish (which was clearly identified in the caption, thanks) so that means she has a real eye for detail. And from her comments about the mac and cheese, she can also gauge the flavor of something just by looking at it. That is an amazing super power I would love to have since I could now watch TOP CHEF and be able to fully enjoy the dishes along with the judges.

    Super fine attention to detail. Able to taste dishes just by seeing them. Also very charming and polite and likeable, and willing to stand by her reviews by not hiding behind an alias. Truly an amazing blogger. Will definitely be sharing this with JJ Yulo, Spanky Enriquez and the rest of the Manila food scene. We have been compiling a list of bloggers for restaurants to be aware of and I believe Fox is a prime candidate. *slow clap*

    • Note that the original first paragraph by gourmetnastyfox was edited do dispel a major issue. It used to include the sentence “I have not eaten there.” Hence, the backlash.

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