Restaurant Review: Top of Cebu
I’m surprised myself why we visited Top of Cebu, a new ‘ambience-eating‘ restaurant, barely a week after its opening.
You see, I rarely drop by a new place during its maiden weeks or even months. I’m not avoiding the eager hordes on Day 1. It’s just that I’d like the management to find first its rhythm in taking orders and in serving meals. Once the dust has settled in, the crowd has normalized and the novelty has almost worn off, that’s when I’d visit the new kid in town.
But I made an exception for Top of Cebu Restaurant last Sunday. The views at ~2500 ft ASL is not really life-changing but at this elevation, you’d see pockets of greens and skyrises in Cebu, planes landing and taking off in Mactan and the purple blur that is Bohol in the far horizon. With this perspective, you’d gain a renewed appreciation for the city and not just curse the flood and traffic jams which have been plaguing it in recent times.
My colleagues and I arrived at the Top of Cebu Restaurant an hour earlier than our 5 PM reservation. It was not a reservation per se, as the restaurant only has a waitlist that weekend. This is actually fair so that they can accommodate hungry diners who are already around rather than hostage a table or two for the terribly late.
I was honestly resigned to the possibility that we will be seated at the upper deck for the night. Don’t get me wrong though as this level is not bad in any way. There are still sweeping city views that can be had here and it’s more spacious too. Best of all, your group will be definitely protected during heavy downpours as this is the only area in the resto which has a roof.
But we did not complain of course when we were ushered all the way down the lower deck. We were also assigned at an enviable spot or right beside the glass ledge. The early bird does get the best seats after all.
From our vantage point, we could see the city, the calm sea and the dusk that’s slowly creeping in. The strings of bulbs overhead us were turned on a few minutes later which provided a romantic contrast to the ‘blue hour’ we witnessed.
This very Instagrammable scene looked like the perfect moment to pop an important question. It could range from asking someone to finally take the next step in your relationship or requesting one of the waitstaffs to give you the menu already.
You can also come here for the food
After I uploaded a photo of our small party in Facebook, most of my friends immediately asked – “Was the food any good?”
I actually expected this as the Top of Cebu Restaurant is not the only ‘ambience-eating‘ spot in the city. I’ve been to a couple of places nearby and I was not really bowled over our orders.
But whether we care to admit it or not, there are times when a restaurant’s ambience or views could compensate even the most mediocre meal in the universe.
I do feel however that aside from the views, the Top of Cebu’s food is also worth the drive up. They serve the usual Filipino dishes but with a welcome twist. That evening, we had the Crispy Bicol Express (could have used more heat), Seafood Kare-Kare and the Salted-Egg Calamares (the salted egg flavor was too subtle).
One of the standouts for me was the Seafood Salad. This dish packed a refreshing combination of sweet (from the mango yoghurt) and crunch (from the haricot vert beans). Yes, the sitaw almost stole the limelight from the shrimp and shredded crabsticks.
The Tuna Belly which rested on a bed of green mango salsa provided the toe-curling curveball of the evening. The tanginess from the unripe mangoes added a nice contrasting flavor to the well-seasoned and perfectly grilled fish. I could only imagine that the 900 g tuna panga (collar) would have been a hit as well. But at Php60/100 grams, it was just way beyond our budget.
For dessert, we had two kinds of parfaits – Mango-Otap and Blueberry Graham. Both weren’t as memorable as the Spicy Thrill Juice, one of the restaurant’s healthy signature drinks.
In retrospect, we should have ordered another bottle of sauvignon blanc to add more fuel to our interesting conversations. We talked about life regrets, personal branding, ‘blue moments’ and comfort zones. These are stuffs we never discuss at work and I blame both the view and the wine for making us vulnerable, albeit temporarily.
In a nutshell, you can come to the Top of Cebu Restaurant for both the views and the food. They are still on their 2nd week at the time of this posting, so you can expect that their waitstaffs and crew are still learning the ropes. Cut them some slack.
Focus instead on creating the perfect ambience. For one, don’t play Everwing while you wait for your orders. Second, take a selfie only either at the start or towards the end your meal. Finally, engage in a meaningful conversation with your family or friends.
Because as trite as it may sound, the views and the food are just secondary. It’s the company that matters more in the end.
Top of Cebu Restaurant (beside Tops Lookout)
Malubog, Busay, Cebu City
For reservations: +63 32 516 0718
Major credit cards are accepted.