Established Pangasinan hotel Ciudad Fernandino is offering up good eats in Dagupan and Urdaneta.
Newly opened in Dagupan is El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino, a beautiful restaurant specializing in Spanish and Filipino food set among the greenery of trees and vines. What started out as an empty lot on the banks of the Tambac river, became a passion project of Fernando and Cynthia Esguerra, and was transformed into their family vacation home.
Originally an events venue, they have opened their gates to walk-in guests and private parties.
Exploring the property is a delight as one can get lost just taking pictures and selfies. Dining al-fresco beneath the vines is truly a rare experience that is best experienced away from the pollution of the city.
El Jardin has started offering bespoke private lunches and dinners leveraging several spaces that can be closed off for small groups.
On the menu are the El Jardin’s favorites by husband-and-wife culinary team of chef Mon Camacho and chef Carmina Esguerra. The chefs’ culinary team sharpened their knives and their skills at the banquet service from a Baguio 5-star hotel so they really know their stuff in terms of flavor, presentation, and service. El Jardin gave a peek of what this private dining experience would be like.
Guests are ushered into their reserved corner of El Jardin complete with table setting and wait staff. Free flowing sangria accompanies a well-curated cheese plate with charcuterie, grapes and nuts. Optional tapas like Gambas can also be served before the meal.
As Dagupan is known for its seafood from the West Philippine Sea, the freshest catch is a highlight on the menu such as the Bouillabaisse loaded to the brim with clams, shrimp, fish and a crab claw.
This love for seafood continues with the Paella Negra which is not shy with topping their squid ink rice dish with tiger prawns, crab legs and squid.
Creamy Laing is used as the cooking broth for this paella. Topped with rich crispy bagnet, the Laing Paella con Bagnet is a must-add to any meal.
If you look up El Jardin on social media, just about everyone recommends the Roast Beef Belly, slow cooked for 8 hours to get it tender and juicy.
This spread wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Guests can choose from their cake offerings, like this signature Apple Crumble Cheesecake.
As the restaurant expects guests from outside Dagupan, they offer bed and breakfast for those who’d wish to stay the night instead of traveling back home. Waking up to the lapping waves of the river to the aroma of breakfast is worth staying the night.
El Jardin does serve a great breakfast spread composed of homemade Filipino breakfast favorites like Spanish sardines, and Alaminos longganisa silogs.
Over in Urdaneta, Chef Carmina and Chef Mon are behind the kitchen at Café Dos inside the 35-year-old Ciudad Fernandino along Macarthur Highway.
Originally a rest stop for buses plying the route going north east to the Hundred Islands or further north to La Union, Baguio and beyond, this hotel has become a comfortable place to stay while exploring Pangasinan.
On the ground floor of the hotel is Café Dos. While the interiors may seem rustic, the food that comes out of the kitchen is anything but. Chef Carmina and Chef Raymund cook up entrees that wouldn’t be out of place in a more expensive restaurant in Manila.
Chef Raymund, in particular, makes interesting creative decisions with his food. For example, one of the menu’s hidden gems is the lumpia cups. The lumpia ubod itself is very tasty but serving it in a deep-fried wonton skin just makes it easier to munch into.
Outside the restaurant is a heavy-duty smoker where chicken and pork ribs are smoked for hours. The best way to have these are in the Smokehouse Platter which is loaded with chicken ribs, a burger, a chicken sandwich, French beans, sauces, and fixings.
Another pleasant surprise is the coffee. Café Dos has a real espresso machine with a barista who knows how to use it. Have this with Chef Carmina’s cakes, breads and other treats from her bakery, Pasteleria De Ciudad.
El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino is located at 185 Tebeng-Tambac Road, Brgy. Tambac, Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Please call (0917) 135 7275 for reservations. Café Dos is located on the ground floor of the Ciudad Fernandino Hotel along Macarthur Highway, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.