Sunday, May 9, 2010

Leona's Art Restaurant: To be taken with a grain of salt

The neighborhood in which I live is fast becoming famous for the quaint little restaurants that are burgeoning along Maginhawa Street. Even in the inner roads, it is not unusual to see a cozy cafe sandwiched between houses, or a new deli nestled in a corner lot. I've been to a few of them: some are delightful and one--- Van Gogh is Bipolar--- is particularly mind-blowing. Until yesterday, I had never been grossly disappointed.

My friend G and I decided to try out Leona's Art Restaurant located at the corner of Magiting and Matimtiman streets. I admit that the phrase art restaurant piqued my curiosity, but now I'm wondering if it's an error in semantics or simply wishful thinking. I did not notice any art on display, unless one counts a small mirror on the left wall, flanked by 2 rows of painted tiles. The place had no artsy feel to it either, except maybe for the plain, unadorned walls and floors of coarse gray cement that were like a, well, blank canvas.

There were certainly some interesting items on the menu, as well as garden-variety dishes for the less adventurous diners, but the 3 employees by the door who ignored rather than acknowledged us should have been foreboding of the horrible service to come. It was exasperating that our server spent several trips to and from the kitchen to inform us that our orders were currently unavailable for lack of one ingredient or other. Still, every time we asked her if a particular dish was available, she always said yes only to come leisurely click-clacking back in her abominably noisy heels to tell us--- unapologetically--- that no, that's not available either. She's an enigma. I can't decide if she's just fickle, was messing with us, or if I was trapped in phantasmagoria because this is not how real-life dining out plays out.

Nevertheless, I'm the type who will come back to a restaurant if the food is good, despite the flawed--- in this case, I cannot emphasize it enough--- service. To make a long story short, I'm never, ever going back there... Well, maybe if by some miracle they discover seasoning. I'm not asking for Dead Sea proportions, but a little salt would be good.

I don't remember dissatisfaction to have ever sparked a blog post, but my experience at Leona's Art Restaurant was no less than insulting. However, I don't intend to be unkind or unfair. If you think you won't mind the disrespectful crew; the interior that does not look deliberate nor finished, much less ready for business; the mosquitoes which outnumber and seem as ravenous as the diners; the menu that promises so much yet comes up short; the climate that feels ideal for Bikram yoga despite the airconditioning; the server that makes you feel that you are a nuisance and an unwanted ripple in her otherwise happy, sedentary existence; and food that leaves much, much more than salt to be desired--- then, by all means, check out the place. But don't say you have not been warned.


Portobello's coffee said...

thanks for the warning, Ajie. I detest places like these.
Leona's... sounds more like a karinderia than an "art place" .

mental wayfarer said...

I googled Leona's, and it seems there's a branch in St. Ignatius (or Loyola, can't remember) that is getting good reviews. I'm just not sure if it's another branch, or the only one but they moved to Teacher's Village. Anyway, the one in Teacher's is awful.

Leona's fan said...

Hey. I just visited Leona's for the first time a while ago and I must say that it is completely...COMPLETELY different from what you blogged about. It's relatively finished now with all the art fixures and the ambiance is wondrous. My friend and I ended up staying for more than 3 hours there. The food is amazing! It's completely inexpensive yet the food is mouthwateringly good. The service was great as well! I am recommenfing it to all my friends.

Perhaps you came at a time when they were unfinished. I highly suggest that you guys visit again.

-Leona's fan

artseblis said...

maybe Kitchen Nightmare's Chef Ramsay paid a visit.