A restaurant named 1950 might stir memories of dishes from that decade, like, for instance, beef stroganoff cooked with Campbell’s mushroom soup, chicken à la king and coleslaw. So, we were curious as to how food that was popular 70 years ago can be updated. But looking at the restaurant’s facade gives a clue to its name—1950 indicates the year the house was made. It seems to be a trend these days—turning an old house into a new restaurant.

Think as far back as Bistro Burgos of Larry Cruz in Manila, and recently, Victorino’s Restaurant and Delgado 112 in Quezon City. The 1950 sign is too small for the big house and you might miss it. But then again, it’s the only one in the area that looks different because condos have dominated the Valencia neighborhood in Quezon City for some time now. But inside, the 1950s look is apparent in the colored concrete floor, the wooden staircase, the sliding glass doors, the white ceiling. Chef-restaurateur Robby Goco rightly decided to make the menu of 1950 different from his other dining places (Cyma, Green Pastures, Luna Hotel, Souv). ‘Soil’ We came in cold—there was no one to recommend anything to try.

A scan of the menu offered something we wanted to taste—Baked Hipon and Laing. It came with two big straightened shrimps on top of the coconut milk-enriched chopped gabi leaves. I highly recommend it. On the menu was a curious category called “Soil,” which we supposed meant plants. We picked the roasted cauliflower that had whipped cheese, honey, butter emulsion and black olive soil. The latter is a term for a process that involves making something look like soil. That’s stuff that the younger generation are attuned to—the stranger, the better. I imagine Goco keeps up with such trends. It was not pretty—too black—but it tasted good. We thought we were getting conventional with the Caesar salad.

But it was served as a whole arugula cut in half lengthwise, placed with Caesar salad ingredients and dressing on top of each, and each bunch cut in two as the wait staff recommended. You eat it like an open sandwich, quite practical, I surmised, and certainly neater and a lot more lettuce. Actually, our group was refraining from meat, so we passed on the steaks, chicken and duck, settling instead on Shellfish Curry and Gambas na Hipon, the latter redundantly named. But both had the tasty spices we needed, and the curry had double carbs—quinoa and papadum. Because it was a new place, we tried two desserts. New to us was the Bavarian Cake with strawberry ice cream and peanut brittle.

The Toasted Ensaymada with Chocolate didn’t sound unusual, until it was served with two whole bacon strips. Surprisingly, nobody felt guilty about the added fat. We took the table on the first landing with windows that brightened the place. Which was why our group stayed on and happily chatted until we felt we were staying too long, although the wait staff never hinted it was time to leave. INQ1950,14 Castilla St., Valencia, Quezon City

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