Once in a while the Tagbilaran food scenario serves up some nice surprises. Take Persona Mesa, a genuinely unusual and objectively good looking restaurant, from the native looking lamps to the zen-style wall decorations. The design is all about natural colours in soft tones which induce a sense of relaxation and calm. The restaurant also has an alfresco option which is very pleasant especially during the evening.
The establishment was previously reviewed under it’s old name, That’s Aroma.
Apparently the owners decided to bring the restaurant to the next level by restructuring the place and revising the menu into something more sophisticated. We have experienced dining at Persona Mesa several times now.
These are our impressions: The menu is pretty simple – it offers a selection of Filipino specialties. I personally love having a limited selection on a menu. It doesn’t confuse your decision and it gives the sensation that the dishes offered will be well prepared. I would like to see more seafood options though since the main dishes on offer are mostly pork.
As a starter we tried the Sisig triangles, I had heard good things about them so I had some expectations. They were good, however, Sisig is a heavy dish by itself. This was then wrapped in a dough and deep fried. Don’t get me wrong I love sisig, but as a “pulutan”, something heavy you eat during your drinking session. But as a starter? Starters should be light, something you eat at the beginning of a meal that will stimulate your appetite.
Moving on, we also tried their Classic Caesar Salad. It was fresh and well dressed, however, it didn’t have the ingredients that classic Caesar Salads have. I’m talking about romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, bacon, etc.
Main courses were very good. We particularly enjoyed the appearance and the love the chef put in every single dish. The ribs, already popular since “That’s Aroma” days, were tender and very tasty but they probably needed a few more minutes cooking. We particularly enjoyed their salmon, starting with the presentation and the way it was cooked. It also had a colourful salad on the side, too bad it wasn’t dressed at all. Their beef stew and chicken curry are delicious also, but they could also have some improvements with their cooking methods.
They also serve pasta and sandwiches and both desserts (Caramel Mang and Toron) are good.
The price is right – not expensive, not cheap. You always have the sensation that you’ve paid the right price.
The thing I love the most about this place is to see how they try to level up the local cuisine by offering common Filipino dishes, using fresh products beautifully plated. I hope more entrepreneurs will follow this movement, offering typical dishes in an innovative way, with their own twist and personality. And not just rely on the usual franchises.
There are details that could be improved if the owners wanted to take this restaurant from good to excellent. But good is good enough to make it one of my favourite restos in the City.
J.A. Clarin Street Tagbilaran CityFrom Tagbilaran head towards Island City Mall (ICM). Persona Mesa is on the left hand side about halfway to ICM. Ph: 038 501 0606