FUENTE CIRCLE: A DIRECT FLIGHT FROM MANILA TO CHICAGO

IPANEMA AT FUENTE CIRCLE IN CHICAGOManila, June 13, 2003 (STAR) At the Fuente Circle of Eastwood City, Chicago, San Francisco, Manila and Brazil are just a few steps away from each other.

In one evening, one can actually savor the food, drinks and atmosphere of these different world spots. Each has a great view of the centerpiece fountain, the reason why the circle is called fuente in the first place.

Located at the popular restaurant and bar enclave of City Walk, Fuente Circle has been the address of 12 of the most exciting and revered dining and wining establishments in the country, four of them being Chicago Roadhouse, Cable Car, Mama Rosa and Ipanema.

To serious drinkers, the San Francisco-inspired Cable Car has become a classic through the years. With its lacquered walls and neighborhood atmosphere, the popular bar and restaurant opened its doors in Eastwood City and had an easy time in attracting a loyal crowd of its own.

After all, Cable Car has one of the widest varieties of spirits, and its burgers have earned quite a legendary status, along with their Cable Car fried rice and so many other delicious options in the menu. There are gourmet pizzas, gourmet calzones, appetizers, big bowl meals, and there are even special platter meals that are full meals for the bargain price of P85.

This June, Cable Car has a drink of the month called "Melon Ball," which is made of vodka, melon liquor and pineapple juice.

Not far from the neighborhood atmosphere and interiors of Cable Car, with its authentic American dishes inspired by the Deep South, Chicago Roadhouse, owned by Gregg Galang, stands out.

Chicago Roadhouse makes its own sausages Ė hardwood-smoked and not grilled, to bring out that chunkier and chewier consistency, aside from that rich, all-American flavor.

Bestsellers in its menu include the Cabrito Asado (herb garlic and olive oil braised leg of goat), the Texas brisket plate, that is made of barbecued ribs that are hardwood-smoked for more than 12 hours and served with a spicy Texas sauce. There is also the Southwest pork rack, a thick slab of pork chop, grilled and served with deep-fried breaded okra, cheesy bread pudding and cranberry sauce.

Chicago Roadhouse also has occasional live entertainment and has been host to legendary blues performers as Jun Lopito, and even Razorback.

Ipanema has been at Fuente Circle from the time action started kicking in two years ago. Today, this corner second floor nightspot is still known for its live acoustic entertainment and the vibrancy of the atmosphere.

"Weíre all about good food, nice music and nice ambience," says Emer Magno Guingon, "Ipanema is about the celebration of life." While it started with very laidback music, it has evolved into a party place.

This June, a Brazilian chef will be coming in to spice up the already exciting menu of appetizers (from the Mandioca Frita, Brazilís version of French fries, to the Mariscos de Baihana, or baked mussels with garlic, butter and cheese) and entrees (the Pescado a Milanesa is a must try, as is the Lengua Champignon).

Ipanema also has its house cocktails such as the Bossa Nova and the Caipirinha de Tangerina. This June, Ipanemaís entertainment menu is jampacked, and one can still catch the likes of Jimmy Bondoc, Paolo Santos and other acoustic performances on choice evenings, and the launch of the Girls of Ipanema.

Mama Rosa, famous for its traditional Filipino dishes that diners first fell in love with in its Timog Circle branch, has opened a bigger branch in City Walk. While keeping its beloved offerings in the original outlet intact, the look of the place is more colorful and has an additional child-like feel to it, thanks to artist RM de Leonís animal carvings on the wall which are lit at the back.

Another noticeable aspect of Mama Rosa in Eastwood is the addition of a fully-functional bar that has ample varieties of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for the eveningís drinking crowd.

For this crowd as well, chef Rosa Laurel has created a special pulutan menu at night called "Unplaggued," inspired by their twice-a-week acoustic performances.

Just recently, Mama Rosa has also introduced a yuppie lunch which goes beyond the traditional Mama Rosa staple of Filipino cuisine. This special menuís bestsellers include chili squid (squid chunks flavored with chili paste and basil), and grilled catfish (hito in sweet soy marinade grilled to perfection).

This June, check out City Walk After Hours at Fuente Circle where thereís a Magic and Music Night (every Tuesday at 8 p.m.) featuring the master of illusion Erik Mana and saxophonist Vince Lahorra, and Acoustic Night (every Wednesday at 8 p.m.) featuring pop singer Aliya Parcs.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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