Saturday, January 16, 2010

Van Gogh Is Bipolar: Happy Food

"We're going to Van Gogh Is Bipolar."

I asked my co-worker, Kaye, to repeat what she just said because it didn't sound like a proper sentence. After talking for a bit more, we cleared up the confusion and I found out that Van Gogh Is Bipolar is actually the name of a cafe located along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.

I researched a bit and I found out that the place is owned and run by Jetro, who is bipolar himself. I made plans on a Friday to have dinner there, tried to make a reservation (for me, Mike, Cheng, and Miguel), but was told that the only available table was outside. Well. For a seemingly obscure place, it sure was popular!

Once you get there, Jetro will be sure to attend to you and give you a little orientation. He told us that the place was his home during the day, and that the food he served was the stuff he cooked for himself to keep from getting depressed--there are explanations in the menu about almost every item, saying how it's supposed to help boost your mood.

The cafe is located in this apartment complex-type place, right beside Blacksoup. The inside has three little dining nooks, including this cozy corner:

You're free to doodle on the red graffiti wall! There's even a desk where you can carve and scrape stuff.

The dark room/bathroom. Interesting photos (including nudes) are plastered all around the cafe.

The dishes are all named after bipolar people: Sting, Jim Carey, Pres. Clinton, Robert Downey Jr., to name a few. Who knew, right? Jetro talked us into getting the Courtney Love Drink of the Day (P75). "It's a surprise!" he told us. But he later revealed that it had lemongrass, melon, and mint, among other things. I reeeally liked this drink, absolutely refreshing! I think Cheng ordered one of the FruiTEA MinTEAs (in the Erlenmeyer flask, below), which is served with wild Palawan honey.

The tea is caffeine-free and is supposed to help relieve stress. I didn't get to try Cheng's hot drink though, because I was perfectly happy with my cold concoction.

While waiting for our food and during comfortable lulls in conversation, we would watch Across the Universe, which was being screened on the wall near Blacksoup. There was this charming, artsy, hippie vibe to the place, much like Cubao X of yesteryear. It had a different kind of energy from typical restaurants. I kind of felt like I wasn't in my element, like I wasn't cool enough for the place! Oh well. I was there for the food, and for what I (rightly) figured was an interesting experience.

After a bit of a wait (while there are a few waiters, Jetro is generally host, cook, and server, so do be patient), my Pres. Roosevelt's Meal (P225) arrived. It's grilled Norwegian salmon belly served with black mountain rice.

Black mountain rice, Jetro explained, is a rare kind of rice grown dry. I think it's cooked with a bit of olive oil and, perhaps, soy sauce because it was very moist and flavorful. The fish (lurve salmon!) was really soft and tender. According to the menu, cold-water fish, like salmon, is an excellent source of omega-3, which helps one maintain a happy-positive vibe. Miguel, who's not a big salmon eater, still had a few bites while waiting for his order, the Pres. Lincoln's Meal (P899 for the "lovers" serving), which he shared with me. (And P.S. Don't be misled by the serving. What we have is strictly platonic!)

It had two cups of that yummy rice, more salmon, lamb, and chicken wings. Mike and Cheng's platter had the surprise dish of the day (tilapia), but ours did not. Sadness. We figured maybe they ran out--it was a busy, busy Friday night at Van Gogh!

While Miguel is not a salmon fan, I am not a lamb fan. There's something about the way it coats my tongue that I don't like. But this time I gave it a chance. While it still had that innate lamb gaminess, I (unexpectedly) liked it. Maybe the benefits of lamb kicked in--since it's a grass-eating animal, it's a healthier source of protein than chemically fed animals. (Chemicals = bad for your mood) Or maybe I've just realized that it's a close cousin of steak. And this girl loves steak!

There are a lot more interesting things on the menu, as you can see from here. I so would have wanted to try Mel Gibson's Darkest Sin (P125)--a shot of vodka with dark chocolate, walnuts, almonds, and wild honey--but we headed to Pino for dessert. One reason to go back. (As if I needed much convincing.) During their screening of The September Issue, perhaps?

Van Gogh Is Bipolar
is located at 154 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. Call (02) 394-0188 or text 0922-8243051/0922-8243052 for reservations.

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Anonymous Zach Yonzon said...

Excellent review and very good pictures for what appears to be a pretty dark place. Interest isn't TOO piqued at the menu, but probably mostly because the environs don't seem to fall under my tastes.

Still. Interesting place that probably deserves a look.

January 20, 2010 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Tisha said...

Hey, thanks Zach! Ahh...what kind of environs are to your liking, exactly?:)

I think this place isn't for everybody, but I enjoyed my visit.:) And yes, it was really dark outside, but luckily I was with Miguel, a photog, who made do with my point-and-shoot and took the food shots!

January 20, 2010 at 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Zach Yonzon said...

Second photo looked a bit grungy. I think like a dad now, haha. First things I think about is how my daughter will react to the place. I'm sure i'd have felt right at home ten years ago.

The black mountain rice dishes appeal to me, though.

January 21, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Tisha said...

More pics here:


January 21, 2010 at 5:56 PM  

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