Patis Tito Garden Cafe (formerly Kusina ni Salud)

The sun was out in all its glory during the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban (Quezon province), showing off how Philippine summer feels like. The cool, fresh breeze from Mt. Banahaw gave a bit of relief, but the heat grew more immense as lunch time approached. Ah, lunch time, how can we miss that. We’ve witnessed the colorful kiping and fresh farm produce proudly displayed  during the Pahiyas Festival. The search was on for a great place to have lunch while in the area.

The initial choice was Villa Escudero, just a few kilometers from San Pablo City (Laguna), our entry and exit point through the national highway. It has been years since we had lunch on flowing fresh water in Villa Escudero, way before we started blogging. Having a blog changes how one takes photos. Pictures would ordinarily be of people. Bloggers take photos of everything, except of people. So it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy lunch at Villa Escudero and take photos at the same time. Unfortunately, Villa Escudero would have to wait for some other time.

Sandwiched between the city proper and Villa Escudero is a barangay which we later learned is named Sta. Cruz (Putol). We also learned that it is where Kusina ni Salud is located. We were off looking for it instead.

The restaurant, or shall I say garden cafe, is not along the main highway. An easy-to-miss sign, found at the left side of the road (towards the direction of Tiaong or Bicol) points to Brgy. Sta. Cruz (Putol). No sign or marker of Kusina ni Salud. Perfect. Another search. A new adventure. We love the search equally with the find.

The challenge with “secret” establishments, such as Sonya’s Secret Garden and Kusina ni Salud, is looking for it through narrow access roads. In the case of Kusina ni Salud, navigating the narrow access road, around a kilometer from the national highway, leads to a narrower bridge, allowing only one vehicle at a time. Not that it was a problem, since we didn’t notice any vehicle using the road at that time. Look for the bridge, we were told when we asked around, and you’ll find Kusina ni Salud.

We got to the bridge, but no Kusina ni Salud was in sight. A small sign at the right side of the road points to a nondescript, unadorned small gate. Patis Tito, it says, so we continued looking for Kusina ni Salud. The back of that sign, visible to vehicles going back, reveals that Patis Tito Garden Cafe is the restaurant formerly known as the Kusina ni Salud.

If I’d be lucky enough to have my own rest house, or even only in my dream, I’d want it to be as simple and rustic, yet elegant, like the setup of Patis Tito Garden Cafe. The slabs of wood used appear to have been recycled from old houses. The tables, chairs and other interior decors are nicely spaced which, coupled with the high ceiling, provide a very relaxing ambiance. The colors are warm. With fresh air freely flowing through the open walls and trees providing shade, the place is a welcome respite from the congestion in the Metro. With that said, so long as the food tastes ok, we won’t hesitate to go back here.

Oh, the food, and remember this is our opinion. The food tastes ok. Don’t get us wrong. Just because we’re comparing the food doesn’t mean that the food in Patis Tio is any less good. The Ensaladang Pako was good, except that it’s not above Abe’s version. The bulalo was ok, though it didn’t surpass the one in Leslie’s. The crispy tilapia was no longer crispy, maybe it was not served right away. The inasal diablo tastes good, a best seller, we were told.

What we would highly recommend, what immediately popped in our minds when recalling our Patis Tito experience, is the Lemon Grass Iced Tea. It’s iced tea, ordinarily no big deal about it, but the tanglad-flavored iced tea of Patis Tito is splendid. The cold iced tea relieved the summer heat and the flavor, a winner. The lemon grass flavor, while distinct, is soothing. Some other distinct flavors, like, say, citrus, give a bit of prick on the taste buds. This one is softer, yet lively. It’s like, hmmm, I’m thirsty, let me try this . . . whoah!

This garden cafe, blending with the green and brown colors of nature, is a great place to slow down and enjoy good food. The place is far from crowded, a bit of a find, but that’s perfectly fine with us. We all have our preferences. For those who enjoy nature in solitude, Patis Tito Garden Cafe is a great option to visit.

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