Diet what? This farm-to-table restaurant is the best place to indulge

Published January 25, 2021, 7:18 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

The Fatted Calf and the fatted me

The Fatted Calf at Silang, Cavite is one of those farm-to-table dining experiences where you throw the diet out the window, and happily indulge! The portions are for sharing; and you’ll love how Chefs Jay Jay and Rhea Sycip have placed so much attention on making comfort food recipes, from starters to desserts, possess enhanced flavors via little tweaks, add-ons, and an assortment of homemade sauces and compotes.

If anything is guaranteed, it’s that after a lunch at the Fatted Calf you’ll be wishing you could rub your belly and take a long afternoon nap. That was the fatted me last weekend!

The Fatted Calf entrance and signboard at Silang, the beacon for farm-to-table excellence

Located on Belarmino Road, The Fatted Calf prides itself as a farmhouse kitchen, with Chef Jay Jay handling the appetizers, soups, and main courses; and with Chef Rhea and her flour pot taking care of all the sweetness, breads, and pastries.

On a sidebar note, I was especially happy to have made the drive to Silang, as it was good to see Chef Jay Jay after the severe Covid-19 experience he underwent late last year. He was at the ICU for 23 days, suffering from both Covid-19, and then life-threatening complications to his heart. To see him back at The Fatted Calf, healthy, was indeed a welcomed sight.

Chef Jay Jay Sycip, 35 pounds lighter, and overjoyed to be back at Fatted Calf

For starters, we had the chicken inasal rillette (a spread of pulled free-range chicken), aromatics, pickled wild pipinito, and raisin relish on rustic bread. Or ask for the seared kesong puti, with Manille calamansi liqueur and honey garlic.

Hearty soups are a must at Fatted. There’s their roasted mushroom soup (oyster and shiitake mushrooms, aromatics, and oregano oil) and minestrone (roasted bone broth, white beans, tomatoes, cabbage, and pasta). And from December, you’ll be happy to know that they’ve kept it on the menu: their hearty Christmas Soup (ham broth, Edam cheese, and roasted chestnuts). This soup was my immediate favorite, one I’ll seek out when I return.

As a farmhouse kitchen, you can be assured of their salads, and the new addition to their menu includes the Burrata salad, a generous dollop of burattina, with mixed greens, cherry tomato, carrots, Moringa pesto, and honey garlic vinaigrette. There’s the Mushroom salad with shimeji mushrooms, candied shiitake, seared oyster mushrooms, mixed greens, and a honey garlic vinaigrette. The Mushroom salad is the more traditional salad offering, but I was swept away by the Burrata—mozza heaven!

The new entries to the mains are generous portions that make the Fatted Calf such an ideal family and sharing experience. The Saturday we got there, the black snapper was the catch of the day, expertly grilled, with corn purée, Spanish chorizo, patani beans, and a calamansi vinaigrette. The one with strong flavors, and deceptively filling, is their osso buco, a sous vide grass-fed beef shank, tomato sauce, white wine, fresh herbs, sweet potato purée, and gremolata. This is meat that just falls off the bone.

The steak and eggs should be a strong favorite, the Australia-sourced beef tender, but still with some bite and texture. Look out for the free range half roast chicken, prepared sous vide, with fresh herbs, mashed potato, roasted carrots, au jus. As it’s free range, do be prepared for the chicken bones to be bigger, with the meat gamier than your regular supermarket chicken.

As for their new desserts, the ube kinampay halaya sponge cake is a must-try, as this one takes the ube experience to another plane. The consistencies of the different layers within the cake add to the magical quality of this Rhea creation. Her tres leches with strawberries is another pinnacle of baking sorcery. She adds strawberries, whipped cream, and edible flower petals to the tres leches.

But with apologies to Rhea, the sweetest thing at The Fatted Calf doesn’t come from her ovens. It’s Donut, their pet golden retriever. She used to be situated at the front of the establishment, but when the need for al fresco tables arose, Donut was relegated to the “back of house.” But seek her out, and she’s still the sweetest thing, happy to greet every diner, and giving you her look of “come back soon.”

Donut, the Sycip’s pet retriever, wishing you’ll be back!

The great food, the casual ambiance, the breezy cross-ventilation, the magical desserts, the friendliness of Jay Jay and Rhea, and of course, Donut—how can you resist The Fatted Calf experience?