Like an old, reliable friend, Uno Restaurant has been welcoming new and loyal diners in the very same spot in the Tomas Morato Avenue area of Quezon City, where it first opened 25 years ago. Step inside and the same monastic vibe greets you – minimalist off-white walls, plain white linen over wooden tables, a small board listing the day’s specials and vitrines in one corner displaying freshly baked breads.
Jose Mari Relucio, who studied at the California Culinary Academy before returning to Manila in 1989, has been serving up nouvelle cuisine at Uno since 1995, but apart from his light and delicate dishes with a heavy emphasis on fresh ingredients, it’s fair to say that the breads he bakes in-house and serves free to guests have earned a following of their own.
I see why when a server brings me a basket of sliced warm ciabatta and its light brown crust crackles as I slather butter over it. “It’s the way I like to eat, and I wanted to share that experience – the way you use bread to sop up sauce – with the diners,” Relucio says. “Dining is about little subtleties coming together and enhancing the experience. Serving bread becomes part of the whole thing that you enjoy.”