Another Story at Evia Lifestyle Center dishes out excellent food, kitschy interiors and great service
I have grown skeptical of restaurants that boast of Instagram-worthy interiors. It is a cop out and a crutch that proprietors use to mask the fact that they serve terrible food. And what do kids consider Instagram-worthy these days anyway? Surely, “minimalist industrial chic” is on its way out of the door, right? It seems like every single new restaurant in Metro Manila these days has an abundance of warm Edison lightbulbs, metal drop lights, wrought iron everything, and skim coated concrete surfaces. I will seriously scream if I have to walk into another exposed-plumbing-brick-wall-and-subway-tiles joint, I swear to God.
The trite look of hipsterrific restaurants around the metro is already so tired that Another Story’s wildly colorful and kitschy interiors are a welcome respite. Located at the second floor of the out of the way Evia Lifestyle Center, the epicenter of Manny Villar’s vast holdings in the Dirty South suburbia, Another Story looks like a cross between your hoarder tita’s living room, a flea market, and a Gay Pride Parade. I say this in a good way. It’s fun, vivacious, quirky, and refreshing.
There is no shortage of personality in Another Story’s cafe seating areas.
With its brightly colored mismatched furniture and water goblets, knick knacks, and fantasy garden-inspired foliage, Another Story is bursting with interesting color and eye-catching detail. The cafe area is dimly lit with dramatic lighting, but it still feels buoyant and airy. The interiors are busy and psychedelic, but it somehow feels right. It’s neither overstimulating nor chaotic.
One thing you notice immediately is the staff’s promptness, coupled with their easy and friendly manner. I hate it when waitstaff hover, and I like how our server kept a cool distance while we thumbed through their pretty hardbound menu. It’s a substantial menu, one that is filled with the stuff of my comfort food fantasies. Its reads like food porn: hanger steak, prawns thermidor, clam chowder, sole, crab cakes, and salmon eggs Benedict. Oh hell yes, please. I love how each dish is coupled with the owners’ family anecdotes, and that just adds to the many things that give pizzazz and character to this adorable joint.
I went there with Sasja for brunch after I picked her up from the airport. Fresh off an 8-hour flight from Sydney, she was looking for something light and fuss-free and I suggested Another Story because I’ve always wanted to try it but never got around to. We always pass by it whenever we go around Evia but never had the time to check it out.
We took a seat at a brighter ‘outdoor’ table and exchanged stories about what happened while she was away feeding kangaroos and wallabies, as if it was such a long time ago since we’ve last seen each other. She was in Australia for all of five days.
A quick note about the owners. Ica Sebastian is sister to Mia and Carla Sebastian, surfer sisters whom I have hung out with in La Union on several trips to surftown. Another Story is Ica’s brainchild, and everything, from the menu to the murals in the walls are products of her creative genius. The Sebastians co-own and run Flotsam and Jetsam, which, as you may know is the hippest and most happening place on the entire beach.
Flot is known for its substantial, mouthwatering food and great music (if not for their mega slow service that they justify with signboards announcing the “You are not in Manila anymore, city brat” approach that they take towards their service), and it’s only appropriate that the same competent touch with edibles carried over to their city digs in far-flung Evia, which is seemingly harder to get to than fucking Urbiztondo, La Union, ha ha ha.
So anywhoo, back to kangaroos and wallabies. We were given a basket of fresh bread and butter to munch on while our orders were firing up. It was good as any bread can get. Anywhere else, you’d get stale breadsticks or shitty nachos but this was actually some pretty darn good bread. And it was free.
I ordered the Prawn Mushroom and Wild Rice Risotto (self-explanatory), and for the lady, it was the Another Story Salad, rife with grilled prawns, shiitake mushrooms and generous shavings of Parmigiano. The meal was lovely. The food was nicely done, and the portions were generous enough for sharing. This is where you should bring a date to, if you don’t want said date to nibble on boring salad or underwhelming entrees.
Will I give it another go soon? Definitely. Will I recommend it to friends? You bet. Here is a restaurant that does not have to compensate with kitschy interiors. The service is excellent, the concept is well-executed, and the prices reasonable for the quality and the care that goes into the food.