When our family friend Mrs Ruby Roa invited me to dine with her and her friends at the Makati Garden Club, I couldn’t resist. I had heard about this little pocket of paradise from friends. It is a membership club that caters to (mostly) women who love plants, gardening, and greenery. I had to see it for myself. So glad I did.
The Makati Garden Club sits in a little patch of green right at the corner of EDSA and Ayala Avenue. You can see the MRT (or is that a bus) on the upper left corner of the photo.
The restaurant is called Maria Luisa’s Garden Room. Named after Maria Luisa Perez-Rubio, the founder of Makati Garden Club.
Around 1955, Maria Luisa persuaded her good friend Enrique Zobel, to “donate a bit of earth” for the Makati Garden Club. She led this informal organisation of women who strongly believed in preserving the environment, conserving open spaces and encouraging the community to do the same. Source.
For over 40 years, the club cafe remained a small discreet place where a few women members would meet. Now there are over 1000 members.
The Garden Room went through a makeover and is now under the management of Sandra Fernandez.
The restaurant feels very homey, like a little cottage with mismatched furniture.
They’ve extended the garden room to accommodate more tables.
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Relaxed setting for lunch.
Some of the furniture pieces came from Maria Luisa’s own collection, while others came from the homes of the members.
I must say that the bread alone is noteworthy. They have fresh pumpernickel!
Our lunch group on a Monday. The restaurant was full.
Our hosts Ruby Roa, who runs the boutique, and Sandra Fernandez, who operates Maria Luisa’s Garden Room.
Festive baked goods.
We shared a platter of smoked salmon and herring with pickled vegetables.
Another platter of jamon and fish spreads.
Chef Robert Lilja’s duck confit.
This duck confit was one of the best I’ve tasted. It was perfect. The skin was crunchy while the inside was tender. And the flavour!
After the duck, the lechon (cochinillo) was served. It was well-worth the wait. Note that lechon isn’t part of the regular menu. You would have to order this in advance, subject to availability.
Chef Robert Lilja, cutting the lechon the traditional Castillan way, with a plate to demonstrate its tenderness. (Chef Robert is from Sweden.)
Gorgeous pairing of lechon and rose. Oh that skin!
The pretty porcelain chandelier above our table.
Our lunch group.
It was such a nice treat to dine here. Everything was excellent – from food, to service…
… and most specially the setting.
The restaurant is not open to the general public. This is a membership club and dining is a privilege of members and guests only. So go find someone you know who’s a member or inquire about membership for yourself.
Maria Luisa’s Garden Room is located at the Makati Garden Club, Recoletos Street corner Ayala Avenue, Barangay Urdaneta, Makati City. Tel: +632 552 7051, +632 552 7045. Check out the Makati Garden Club boutique here.