On the outside, Memory Lane looks like something you’d see on the cover of a children’s bedtime story book: It’s a light blue cottage with flowers in front and a white picket fence all around, plus a gazebo on the side. Its overall appearance would make it seem like you’d probably see it with a rainbow sailing in the background and small children playing ring-around-a-rosy on the lawn on a normal day, but I can’t confirm since it was a rainy afternoon when we stopped by.
The inside looked every bit as saccharine as the outside, with the white walls, blue and white tables and chairs, and vintage lighting. But in odd contrast with the rural cottage charm, they also had vintage 50s paraphernalia scattered all around, and I mean all around (It looked like they raided quite a few thrift shops to fill every inch of the restaurant with the decor). Old store signs were on the walls, figurines of old cars lined the high shelves, and on one section stood a jukebox and a cabinet-style, black-and-white TV. Both were working, by the way; they were showing my man Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes” in mute while playing oldies music in the background.
We started with a plate each of cheese sticks and calamares. The cheese sticks were pretty ordinary, much like the ones you get from street stalls that have evolved from being mere fishball vendors. It wasn’t bad, but there really wasn’t much to it. They even came with the familiar is-it-pink-or-orange dip that’s, I presume, a combination of ketchup and mayo. A small taste confirmed what I already knew – it was sweet – so I stuck with munching on plain sticks.
The calamares (which they call squid rings) were OK, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They came with a simple side of garlic vinegar, which I opted to do without after one dip told me the light taste of squid was pretty much blown out by this sour explosion. After a couple sips of the house iced tea, I passed it onto my brother-in-law, who enjoyed it though it was erring on the side of diabetes to me.
We assumed the lechon rice meant the rice was fried and tossed with bits of lechon. As it turns out, it was a bowl of fried rice topped with large chunks of lechon cooked kawali-style. Those porcine bits of goodness were pretty unforgettable: tender, nicely seasoned, and with crunchy skin. But dude, if that rice was any sweeter, it would be a dessert. It looks like instead of serving sarsa on the side, they cooked it into the rice. Bad move, in my book. I would’ve been happy eating plain garlic rice with those succulent pieces of pork.
Hats off to “Mom” for coming up with Tender Juicy Baby Back Ribs. They were incredibly tender, and the seasoning was so on point, I personally thought it didn’t even need the sauce it came with.
It didn’t seem that the country fried chicken received the same amount of love being prepared, though. It was pretty flavorless and a bit dry. I actually enjoyed eating the side of crackers it came with more than the chicken itself.
So… with the yes-and-no food and weird hodgepodge of decor, I personally don’t think I’ll be coming back to Memory Lane. I was happy enough to reminisce about the food I did enjoyed, but I think I’ve built enough memories about the place not to warrant a second visit. (Come on, I know you saw what I did there.)
Overall rating: ★★★✭☆
Magallanes Drive, Tagaytay City, Philippines
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