TASTES LIKE HOME

White­house Burger Café re­vis­its the mean­ing of com­fort food

Northern Living - - EATS - TEXT MARTIN DIEGOR PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ABBY MANSANOC

Go­ing out of your way for some­thing re­lies en­tirely on two things: ei­ther you need it or you want it. In the case of burg­ers, it’s easy to make a de­ci­sion, which is why even though White­house Burger Café is in far-off Marik­ina, peo­ple have been flock­ing to this lit­tle holein-the-wall in Pam­buli, a sim­ple, hum­ble street that even taxi and jeep­ney driv­ers don’t know. Com­ing from the San­tolan train sta­tion, take Mar­cos High­way and you’d spot a Burger King along the way. Across it is a sign­less fork in the road; take the one on the right. This leads you to White­house, which should be on your left, par­al­lel to a bas­ket­ball court.

White­house is what came about when pro­duc­tion de­signer Vanessa Uri­arte’s props dump met her part­ner Mhyca Bautista’s love for food, burg­ers es­pe­cially. It started out as a hum­ble take­out burger counter based in Uri­arte’s an­ces­tral home, offering sim­ple hearty recipes and a few drinks. But then Ty­phoon Mario hap­pened. When our garage got flooded in 2013, a lot of things got dam­aged and so some space cleared up. We took the op­por­tu­nity to con­vert the busi­ness into a real restau­rant,” she says.

Now, White­house is filled with a col­lec­tion of vin­tage ads, pop-col­ored floors, and nov­elty toys and items. It’s prob­a­bly a good thing you have lots of things to look at, be­cause once the White­house Spe­cial is served, you’ll take your time down­ing a tower of a burger with egg, ham, dou­ble patty, and dou­ble ched­dar, best paired with their sig­na­ture Bub­blegum shake. A new menu item also made its de­but: the chicken, crab­meat, and Asian sauce burger they call Chicken Ninja.

It’s all an ex­per­i­ment with food and fla­vors we like, but when you dis­sect them, our burg­ers aren’t really that com­pli­cated,” com­mented Bautista, who has re­cently taken up culi­nary train­ing and is in charge of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. Once, a man de­manded for the [per­son] who had cooked the food. I ner­vously faced him, ask­ing what was wrong with his or­der. It turned out he just wanted to meet me so he can say his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the food in per­son. We keep on go­ing for mo­ments like that.”

Now that con­cept restau­rants are sprout­ing here and there with sur­prises on the din­ner ta­ble, White­house keeps it warm and gen­uine by serv­ing well-loved clas­sics that re­mind you of home. Af­ter all, it sees it­self as the home you’ll think of for fill­ing chows, cold drinks, and good times.

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