The Armchair Critic

(Pretending to know everything)


The Old Spaghetti House

Posted by Lee i.

I will have to make a confession. I pass by a branch or two of The Old Spaghetti House everyday and I often ignored it. In my mind, I lumped it with the "in" restaurants of my college days - Whistle Stop and Choo-Choo Junction - nothing new to offer. So TOSH was never in our list of restaurants to eat at.

Yesterday, there was a thread in our scrapping e-group about TOSH. Members usually in lurker mode came out of the woodwork to declare that TOSH is a good place to eat. When someone mentioned cheesecakes from The Cheesecake Factory, USA, I knew I had to give it a try. I am a cheesecake fanatic and next to Veniero's, I love the cheesecakes at The Cheesecake Factory.

While chatting on YM with Nita, she said we should eat at TOSH. And before we knew it, we had a date to raid Au's newly arrived balikbayan box and have late dinner at TOSH that very same day.

We went to TOSH St. Esguerra Avenue. The restaurant was quaintly decorated with hanging copper lamps and faux brick walls. An appetizing aroma drifted from the kitchen. There is a blackboard where a menu written in chalk hangs. I always love reading these chalkboards declaring the day's special. I always feel that there is something new to be discovered that is not in the regular menu. Today, the announcement is only about fresh fruit juices.

After the prerequsite "I was here" picture taking, Au ordered the Pasta Negra (pasta in squid ink sauce and crispy squid - Php95.00). This is what we were told was cooking in the kitchen when we walked in. (Amoy pa lang, panalo na.) When I was in college, my dormmate told me that spaghetti is not a good date food because it was messy to eat. And when you're trying to impress someone on a first date, messy isn't what you want to be. Now Pasta Negra definitely isn't date food, unless you are actually trying to scare away your date with black lips and teeth. But in this case the the Pasta Negra is worth the risk. Au declares it to be delicious.

I ordered the Pesto with Grilled Chicken (Php120) because Nina recommended it and because hubby rarely makes it at home. The pesto is quite tasty and I enjoy it. So do Au and Nita. (Note to self: buy fresh basil leaves and have hubby make pesto at home. we stil have EVOO?)

Nita ordered the Gambas (Php165), the sauce of which had me begging for extra garlic bread to mop it up. I ate it like a bruschetta, lots of tomatoes and chili, if you please. We suspect though that the shrimps are not fresh as they are not firm to the bite.

Nita asked for dessert - Cheesecake with Blueberry (Php145) and Creme Brulee Royal (Php80) - to be served at the same time.

When Nita orders food, she orders alot because she wants to have a taste of everything. Au calls it takaw-mata. I call it grazing. Which is a good thing too because Au and I eat like cows. LOL. The grass always greener on someone else's plate.

Would you belive we ordered extra Pesto Pasta without the chicken? We liked the first plate so much we just had to have more. Sadly, it wasn't as good as the first. We think it's the grilled chicken that accounted for the difference in taste.

While Nita can eat dessert between bites of the main course, I always save the best for last. The cheesecake is, as expected, a much smaller slice than in Cheesecake Factory, and the blueberry came from the can, but it was still good. Velvety smooth and creamy the way I like it, it slides cleanly onto my fork, direct into my waiting mouth where it melts in a burst of cream cheese goodness.

The Creme Brulee comes in three flavors - regular, chocolate and citrus. Nita likes her Creme Brulee soft and creamy. Like Amelie, I like to crack the caramelized sugar on top. Sadly though, I think the chef was in a bit of a rush because not all the sugar was caramelized. We all agreed we liked the chocolate custard the best.

Our verdict? Why don't we let the plates speak for themselves?

And finally, the bill. Ignore Nita's facial expression. The meal didn't really break the bank. In fact, the cost of eating at TOSH is very very reasonable (especially since she paid for it. Thanks Nita.)


Sharing the Goodies

Posted by Lee i.

It's been a while since I posted in this blog. Got side-tracked by a new-found love - scrapbooking. You can read about it at my scrap blog

But that doesn't mean I've forgotten all about food. I mean, I still have to eat, right? And I do still take food photos. Except that sometimes the uploading gets to me. I am not the most patient person I know.

But anyway, I want to share with you a story. My kids had their Literacy Week last February 12 - 17. And I volunteered to help out with some activities. I think it's important for children to see their parents so involved in their school. Since I have three kids in the school, I prepared different activities for their classes.

For my gradeschool kids, I had a workshop on making an accordion mini-album. And for my pre-schooler, I assisted in their baking activity.

Well, we didn't exactly bake because the school had no facilities for that. So what I did was make brownies at home to bring the school. The plan was for the kids to make cookie cutter shapes and decorate them to give as a gift to their parents for Valentine's Day.

I baked two pans of my moist chewy brownies (crispy on the outside, soft and chewy in the inside). I distracted my kids with a movie video. Normally, I would have let them run free in the kitchen but I wanted to finish early because I had a dinner date with friends.

So here is the basic product.

Unfortunately, I do not have photos of the kids doing their thing because I was busy helping them use my cookie cutters.

But look at what they and their teachers did to wrap things up.

Isn't that beautiful? Any parent woud be proud to receive that. Not to mention, delicioso too.


When I bake, I really bake up a storm. I always feel I should make the most of the oven's heat and the cleaning up afterwards. It's not logical I know. But my stomach is not complaining...

I also baked Chocolate Chocolate Cookies. I got the recipe from the I used Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips as the kids love it. My DH was a bit disappointed because he likes the cookies with Hershey's Mint Chips. Unfortunately, it wasn't available in the grocery.