Along Magiting street, you may just find a place not too far away from home. Woodchuck House is a budding restaurant owned by Ace Gapuz, Bebs Abrillo, and Christian Tolentino. Ace is an entrepreneur while Bebs is a brand planner of an ad agency, and Christian is a nurse by profession. Bebs Abrillo is the one who handles and heads the strategy and creative side including the design. With dainty lighting fixtures and elegant wall art, Woodchuck house is a modest and cozy place. It feels extra intimate and folksy when it comes down to its overall atmosphere.
Situated alongside Icecreamist and Cakebox, Woodchuck house is accessible to many groups of people who just want to chill and dine out with friends or family. A mini bar is also present dedicated for Woodchuck’s long list of mocktails in their menu.
The Woodchuck House’s concept was derived from the animal called groundhog or “woodchuck”, belonging to the squirrel family. They create burrows for sleeping; protecting their young and they use it as a safe place whenever they are hibernating. According to Ace and Christian, they wanted Woodchuck House to feel as if it is some place you will always come back to, a place where it’s warm, and a place you can always call home.
More than just the homey ambiance, the owners’ concept was also adapted through their menu. All the dishes they serve come way back from Christian’s childhood. “These are the dishes I grew up with because my mom served this to us.” All are original recipes from Liza Tolentino, Christian’s mom. “We wanted to focus on the 360-degree dining experience where people can enjoy the food, the ambiance, and our service.”
Just like this first dish served to us, “Mom’s Best Baked Mac” that sells for only 158php tastes like what my mom would actually prepare at home. Its sweet style sauce really captures that distinct pinoy taste with a generous serving of the melted cheese on top. It was perfect paired with the soft garlic bread.
From the mason jar covered Edison light bulbs to the elegant calligraphy on its walls, Ace makes it to a point that their plating, how they serve their food, and every other detail in Woodchuck House is instagram-post worthy. “We believe in beautiful products and we have observed that a lot of visitors use instagram as a platform to share their dining experiences.”
True enough, when the Beef Kare Kare was served, we couldn’t help but take pictures of it from every angle. But more than just being photogenic, the Beef Kare Kare was a sure hit. The meat is very tender and the peanut sauce is delicious in itself that it can do without the fish paste. For just 248php, this dish can serve 2 to 3 people.
The Crispy Sinigang was also an easy favorite. Served separately, the crispy pork cutlets are deep fried to crisp perfection. It’s not too crumbly nor is it too hard to chew. The soup had good consistency and from the first taste, you could really taste the extract of the sampaloc. The pork remains crispy even when drenched with the tasty soup; a cool twist from how sinigang is usually served.
Savory in its flavor, Woodchuck’s version of Adobo or known as the Classic Pork Mojos Adobo did not fail in delivering this favorite Filipino dish’s classic taste. The meat was very tender and the nicely coated potatoes that were served with it were soft and delectable.
While Ace handles the marketing side of their business, Christian handles the overall operations. Being a foodie at heart, Christian has a knack for trying out different places to eat. He is very observant that is why he picks up on “what works” and eliminates bad habits he sees from different dining places. That’s probably the reason why the staff at woodchuck are all friendly and accommodating. Christian and his mom trained all of them especially when it comes to customer relations.
One thing that sets Woodchuck house apart from others is that they give their customers the liberty to choose how they want to eat their food. True to their concept, every visitor will surely feel at home personalizing how they want their eggs done, if they prefer bread or rice, and what meat to be served alongside their eggs. The DIY All-Day Breakfast Meals start at 138php.
They also have the DIY Panini where you can choose to grill your own Foccacia bread and choose your meat (served cooked) and vegetables (served fresh) that comes along with it!
Woodchuck is what Ace and Christian calls “born out of love” since they consider themselves a complete team. Ace and Christian shares that almost all what Woodchuck is now, is the product from a lot of the support and help that came from friends and family. “The food suppliers are our friends, the photographers who help us promote the place are our friends, the person who assists us with the necessary permits are our friends, and even the recipes are from Christian’s mom who happens to be at the same time, our accountant.” Truly, home is where the heart is and for Ace and Christian, dining in Woodchuck is just the same as dining with family.
Woodchuck house is open DAILY from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm. They are located at The Square, 51 Magiting St. Teachers Village, Quezon City, Diliman. You can contact Christian Tolentino thru 09178961618 for reservations.
By Marionne Bañaga