Along a row of houses and small establishments on Bayani Road, “Finally!” I said, when I glanced upon a familiar black and orange logo. I turned to my husband and asked him if he saw it too and the next thing I knew, we were parking the car and heading into the restaurant.
It’s been a few years now since we last dined at Jed & Julian’s. Some time ago, it was situated along the busy streets of Malate-- a small quaint diner that caught our eye as the menu boasted of humongous burgers, home-made pizza served in wooden boards and my ever-favorite Spaghetti ni Lola. A couple of tables, the blackboard menu right above the kitchen-slash-counter top, and the bustling Malate gimmick night backdrop, all stood witness to many unforgettable occasions for the both of us. If my recall is accurate (which I'm pretty sure is), it was my hubby's (boyfriend then) first bonus paycheck that sponsored our first Jed and Julian's experience. That night was followed by another, then another, and so many more that I've lost count. Sadly, our hangout suddenly closed as the family that owned the place decided to sell the lot it stood on.
Today, Jed & Julian’s Fatburger Stand resurfaced and it is no longer just that, as it is now entwined with another brand: Kuya’s at the Fort, from the makers of Kuya's and Mana in the San Francisco Bay area. Our favorite hole in the wall resto is back and has evolved into a two-in-one restaurant. No longer is it a small, quaint diner with a few tables, but a full-fledged restaurant that has a seating capacity of up to 50 for their indoor dining area and up to 70-80 including the al fresco area. The interior boasts of a neutral blend of earthy tones with red highlights-- one that makes you feel cozy, “at home” and nostalgic as you listen to the cool and groovy tunes of the 70’s.
The menu of Kuya’s at the Fort offers heirloom Filipino family recipes while Jed & Julian’s still has their famous burgers and pizzas. They have also added Spanish, more Italian, Mediterranean and American dishes to their list – and to our surprise, a Japanese menu, since one of the cooks has been trained in Japanese cuisine. Talk about expansion!
For this visit, we dared not to miss our favorites, as well as the new gastronomic delights that they now offer. We started off with some Italian staples - their Sicilian Pizza (Php 395), topped with generous amounts of Italian meat-filling and their Pizza Barcelona (Php 495) topped with Spanish chorizo, gambas and mushroom Alajillo. We kind of miss the pizzas being served on small wooden boards as they now are on a platter, big enough to feed 3-4 people. The pizza crusts however are still as good as we remember: thin and crisp and always with generous toppings.
We then moved on to some Filipino bests: their Twice Cooked Adobo (Php 195) that came with sidings of home-made atchara plus adobo sauce (also on the side), and their Gising-Gising (Php 160), a heap of ground meat with thinly sliced Baguio beans and lots of minced green sili.
All I could say was “more rice please!” as the two dishes proved to be authentic Filipino but yummier in every way and with every bite. I especially love how the adobo chunks are served dry and liempo style, yet there's no denying of it being a true-blue adobo upon dunking it into their special sauce. The dish looks enough to be shared, but it being that good? Might as well be selfish and order one for yourself. Don't forget to order extra rice!
Twice Cooked Adobo
Normally, I'd wave the white flag after dishes that many, but hey, I'm in Jed and Julian's after so long a time! How could I pass up on the rest of my favorites? I then requested for Spaghetti ni Lola (Php 195), a traditional Bolognese with a twist. Instead of ground, it had shredded beef. Thin strands of beef molded into the properly tangy meat sauce with visible bits of carrots over al dente pasta come with a side serving of garlic bread generously lathered with butter and herbs. Oh what comfort!
Spaghetti ni Lola
What Spaghetti ni Lola is to me, is what Classic Fat Burger with Cheese (Php 125) is to my hubby. We figured early on why Jed & Julian’s is known for and it’s their burgers. Home-made juicy patty sandwiched in soft burger buns for that price is quite a steal. Add extra Php 40 for twice cooked fries or chips.
Classic Fat Burger with Cheese
And our reunion with an old-time favorite didn’t stop there. Since they've opened up their Bibingka and Puto Bumbong station, we just had to try it. The Bibingka (Php 95) and Puto Bumbong (Php 80) were perfect! Warm and moist, you can savor the red egg and kesong puti in every bite. The sweet velvety texture of their puto bumbong also won us over.
You would think that we’ve had our fill, but we were again tempted with their Peanut Butter Pudding (Php 195). How can we say no to a warm plate of pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with blue berry sauce? Truly, there isn't a better way to cap off our experience at Kuya’s at the Fort / Jed & Julian’s.
Peanut Butter Pudding
Full and pleased, we sat back and reminisce the fond memories we had at Jed and Julian's years ago. The walk down the memory lane was definitely gratifying, especially our conclusion on how big a part of our history as a couple Jed and Julian's has played. Funny, too, how we used to drag friends there for an all-nighter years back and how we now inquire for function rates for a possible children's party soon. We were told that for a consumable fee of PHP7,000.00, we can make use of a function room on the second floor that can hold up to 30 people. Whether it be for a meeting or party, the well-ventilated space is equipped with air conditioning, its own bathroom, and karaoke. They also offer Set Menus for a minimum of 12 pax, ranging from Php 400-550/head and Pinoy Bento Box/ Combo Meals for lunch and dinner ranging from Php 160-275.
Anyway, whether this pushes through or not, we'll definitely be back at Jed and Julian's/Kuya's at the Fort. Here's to the start of many more memories to be written. Cheers!
Restaurant photos courtesy of Kuya's At The Fort / Jed & Julian's.