Cabecera is a city must-try (restaurant review)

The last time I was in the Holy Spirit Drive vicinity was when I was in high school, so I was pretty psyched when I was invited by #ZomatoPH to a food sampling event at one of the restaurants in the area. To be honest, I’ve never heard of  Cabecera Garden Restobar, but I have heard that Holy Spirit has developed into a pretty decent food hotspot over the past decade, so prospects looked good at least.

Cabecera is big and airy, but it isn’t much to look at in the daylight. I guess it doesn’t come alive until night, so you might have a better experience of the place ambiance-wise if you dine around 6 (they operate from 2PM to 2AM). Another benefit of going a bit later: happy hour is from 4 to 8, which is when you can buy beers at a 10% discount.

cabecera interior

Our lunch started with platters of nachos and fresh potato chips. The nachos were crunchy and chock-full of lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef and cheese. The salsa it was served it was pretty good. It also came with this creamy sort of dip. Couldn’t tell what it was and didn’t like it. The fresh potato chips were paper-thin and lightly salted. They were perfect the way they were, which was a good thing since the dip (a combo of ketchup and mayo, I think) was sweet, not something I enjoy as you well know.

cabecera nachos
cabecera potato chips
Fresh potato chips

Next on the menu were pancit canton, yang chow rice and baked bangus. The pancit had enough meat and veggies to go around, but it needed a bit more salt. The yang chow rice was just as filling but with better seasoning. The bangus, cooked daing-style, was served topped with a layer of cheese and sprinkled with garlic. As big a fan of cheese as I am, the jury’s still out on whether or not I like the combo. I might need another tasting of this to make up my mind.

cabecera pancit canton
Pancit canton
cabecera yang chow
Yang chow rice
cabecera bangus

The torra de cangrejo (crab meat omelette) I’m pretty biased against because it was served swimming in sauce tainted with star anise, a spice I don’t enjoy at all.

cabecera torta de cangrejo
Torta de cangrejo

That was the first time I’d tried bouillabaisse soup, so I don’t really know what to compare it with. To those as uneducated on this dish as I, bouillabaisse is fish normally stewed in broth and various veggies and spices. Cabecera’s take on the dish is pretty far from the traditional recipe (for one thing, it was creamy), but it was pretty good, nonetheless.

cabecera bouillabaise
Cabecera bouillabaisse soup

Another first for me was horse meat. Tapang kabayo, to be more specific. It was well-seasoned and very tender, and I was a fan of the spicy vinegar dip it came with. It’s pretty easy to imagine yourself snacking on it while tossing back a bottle or two.

cabecera tapang kabayo
Tapang kabayo

The stars of the meal came in the form of flaming chicken and Cabecera’s specialty crispy pata. The preparation of the flaming chicken is quite the spectacle: they toss some fried chicken onto a sizzling plate, pour in a little bit of alcohol, set the whole thing on fire (step back if you enjoy having eyebrows), and top it with a concoction not unlike chop suey with gravy. The chicken was tender and the gravy nicely seasoned, although the vegetables were just a little on the overdone side.

cabecera flaming chicken
Flaming chicken

I understood why the crispy pata is Cabecera’s best-seller: the skin’s cooked to crunchy perfection and the meat practically slides off the bone. Didn’t care much for the soy sauce dip the dish is usually served with (again, it was a bit too saccharine for my taste), but it’s not like the crispy pata needed it.

cabecera crispy pata
Crispy pata

For the price, serving, and variety in selections, Cabecera is definitely worth a visit should you find yourself in the Batasan Hills area.

Overall rating: ★★✭☆

Cabecera Garden Restobar
#2 Aurora Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive, Don Antonio Heights, Batasan Hills, Quezon City

Disclosure: This visit was organized by the restaurant’s management in cooperation with Zomato Philippines. The opinions expressed in this post are based on my own experience and were in no way influenced by said groups.

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