Ironically, it is in this darling restaurant that I found the best pulutan (beer match) I've ever had-- even the most picky tanggero (if there's even such) wouldn't resist!
Confused? I know, right?
It can be said that Sweet Pea has an identity crisis. While I was all set into branding it as an all-American diner upon seeing the cheery, casual interiors and the 50's style art plastered on its walls, I find a Hainanese Chicken (P275) dish in one of the pages of its menu. As if the Asian dish in that page isn't enough to make me scratch my head, I find Sukiyaki Steak and Chicken Kebab (P375) in another, with a picture of Prawn Tempura (P450) not far below it. The menu, clearly, is no less confused as I am.
My group, hungry and no longer concerned on what to make of this resto, proceeded on ordering a platter of Spinach, Bacon and Mushroom Quesadillas (P250) as appetizer. Quesadillas? But of course. Mexico represent!
Spinach, Bacon and Mushroom Quesadillas
The Quesadillas turned out pretty good, if not great. There's no way to fail anyway when you slather bacon and mushroom with lots of cheese.
It's a simple equation, really. More cheese = More awesome. But halfway through enjoying the Quesadilla slices, which gave me the feeling of indulging in pizza without the heaviness, I stopped and asked, "Where's the spinach part of this dish?" "There's spinach?," a friend said. We had to peel the top layer from the other to see that there, indeed, is the spinach. But since there's just one leaf per slice, we wish they'd not include it in the name anymore. That or they incorporate the spinach with the cheese as bits. Nevertheless, we liked this as a starter. Enough to be shared by three to four people while waiting for the entrees.
For the soup course, we got the Squash Soup (P150) which was not in any way different from a decent take on the classic soup, but did a great job in warming our stomachs and prepping our taste buds. My friend enjoyed it thoroughly, she finished it to the last drop.
After the squash soup came the platter of Beef and Mushroom Lasagna (P285). Finally, something that fit well with the diner-type ambience of the resto!
Beef and Mushroom Lasagna
Though carefully plated, the lasagna platter looked like something you should gobble, not eat. It is what an armageddon in an island made of pasta would look like if there is to be one. Like any minute from now, the layers of pasta which had been struggling to hold form will finally break and submerge in the sea of tomatoes and cheese. But of course, this doesn't happen until you slice a bit with your fork.
The taste of Sweet Pea's Beef and Mushroom Lasagna measures up with how mouthwatering it looks. It is as simple and hearty as how lasagnas are supposed to be. A bit on the sweet side, the Beef and Mushroom Lasagna is hard not to like.
We also got the Baby Back BBQ (P375) which our server spoke well-of.
Baby Back BBQ
True enough, it was fall-off the bone quality. Usually, when ribs are, the resto is almost 70% accomplished.
The other 30% is judged by the smokiness and depth of flavor of the meat. I can't say much about its smokiness. I don't think they meant it to be robust and smoky, anyway. The sweet, barbecue flavor of the thick sauce was the highlight. As for the depth of flavor, I can confidently say that this one was marinated well.
What's the pulutan dish I mentioned at the start of the article, you ask? Well, thank God our group had an appetite of a homeless man that day so we decided to go for one more dish. Just to celebrate the Ms. Universe-like assortment of dishes in Sweet Pea, we decided to order a Filipino dish this time. And just like in pageants, the Philippines' representative proved to be the best among the rest. Presenting, the not-for-the-faint-of-heart Crispy Duo (P350). Oh, I meant that literally.
The Crispy Duo is comprised of Crispy Pork Belly and Crispy Pork Tapa, neatly arranged on what looked like a wooden chopping board. In between them are the sauces you can pair with whichever of the two: vinegar and the Filipino style sweet gravy akin to Mang Tomas.
Those with blood pressures beyond normal, take your cue. This dish is not for you. Those with normal BPs, make sure you are with someone else-- possibly three to four in your group. What you will experience in eating Crispy Duo might result into uncontrolled popping of bits and pieces of chicharon-like liempo and tapa (which crunch sounds so heavenly despite being so sinful) until you wipe the entire thing out. Sweet Pea has a limited alcohol list, but I'm sure you'd find there something to match the Crispy Duo.
Yes, Sweet Pea can be confused at times. Most of the time, even. But I think that serves them an advantage also, especially when a large group of diners with variegated tastes barges in. A classy lady may appreciate Sweet Pea's cutesy demeanor and selection of pastas, but there's no stopping her man friend from enjoying as well, especially with such dishes as the Crispy Duo and the Ribs. Well, Sweet Pea ain't that picky, but it sure is yummy.