As always, my good buddy Ian Garcia wanted to tag me along in the opening of a new restaurant in the city. I told him I didn’t get an invitation (a usual miffed excuse for not attending events). He pooh poohed my ignorance and showed me his invitation card “to bring along a friend.” Well that got me even miffer (if there’s a word) since I’ve been curious to go see what this “plane crash” was all about a month ago when I first saw it protruding from the road.
We reached the now traffic-ridden road along Bacaca Road which used to be just a shortcut from the city’s rush hour. Cars were already parked in front of an imposing wooden structure that announces “Outback Grill” at the entrance. You will of course, be curious about the presence of a small airplane which nosedived through its roof. You shall find the answer in its history of the Cross family on the huge menu which you can’t even dare sneak out if you wanted to (same with the autographed frames of celebrities on the walls).
The place was filled with guests who are enjoying the open air ambience of the restaurant. Serving at three huge floors, you can choose to stay by its garden where the stage stands, or up the third floor overlooking the “airy hills and plains”. Actually, it was just a scenic backdrop design but it serves to give an atmosphere of the “outback” as well. The night air brings coolness in the place.
We bumped into several friends during its grand opening. The host welcomed guests with performances of the evening: a firedancing extravaganza, magic show, dance number, and band renditions. There was a henna tattoo treat for kids in one corner.
I was introduced to the amiable owners, Jay Martinez and Andrew Worsley, who were busy helping their staff serve and wait food on tables. Guests kept streaming in and no table was left vacant for long. Incidentally, they also own Zoofari Kids Adventure, just beside the restaurant, a great treat and playhouse for children.
What made up for the delay of our food (we’re kind of forgiving since this was the launch and staff was overwhelmed at the surge of customers) was the delicious platter that arrived on our table, brought by Pocahontas (waitress) and Indiana Jones (waiter)—chicken and ribs served on chopped wood (I called it “tadtaran” of course but there is a classier term for that), and the sumptuous American bbq-flavored delights with reasonable price range at those sizes. The bonus is the Filipino influence of “unlimited rice” which spoils whatever diet you may have before you enter.
We came out with our tummies full and a little heavier on the side. This was another night of bonding with Ian as I told him we’ve gotta stop meeting (eating) like this. Everywhere we go we just couldn’t resist the lure of the unknown, be it destinations or strange cuisine (we ate frogs in Cambodia, but that’s another story). However, Outback BBQ Grill is a pleasant surprise at the palate and pocket. You get your money’s worth at the selection of plate servings that cost less than a hundred pesos and up.
When you leave the place, don’t forget your photo souvenir beside the hanging parachute guy where the plane’s nose crashed through.
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(Jojie Alcantara maintains two columns in SunStar Davao and another national paper, and is a staunch advocate of Philippine tourism. A writer, traveler and photographer, she relates her (mis)adventures in www.dabawenya.com and other blogs.)