Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Yesterday marked my blog’s fifth year in existence. I try to make it a point to redesign my theme every time my blog turns a year older, but as usual, I wasn’t able to make my planned release date. Launching a redesign later than planned is becoming a habit already, I might as well accept the fact that I’ll probably never finish a new Kutitots design every 13th of February. So yup, you can expect a new design soon… Really soon! Besides, I’m really getting tired of seeing this mess (the ads are just all over the place)—it’s about time for a new look.

I might be getting a habit out of delaying my blog’s redesign launch date, but one thing’s changed this year. Marc and I broke our stingy and lazy tradition and actually ate dinner at a restaurant on heart’s day. Traffic is usually awful on Valentine’s—lots of couples heading out for a romantic celebration—and that’s something that I could never tolerate. I was never a romantic (nor will I ever be), and braving traffic for the sake of romance is totally not my cup of tea. So what’s different this year? Nothing really, just the fact that the restaurant we went to was just a walking distance from our home, had great food and ambience any artist would really appreciate.

Marc brought me home take-outs from Leona’s Art Restaurant twice already before I even visited the place. He usually buys me my favorite, soft taco, from the restaurant every time he gets a haircut at a nearby barber shop or needs to get Shantee groomed (coincidentally, the groomer’s is right beside the barber shop). I’ve been lazy to go there (or just have work to do), but I now honestly think hauling my ass over the place is well worth it.

I can’t give food reviews as good as Connie does, but I can tell you an honest-to-goodness opinion that food from Leona’s is delicious. If you’re into spicy Mexican food like I am (or just a sucker for unique tastes), you’d like it too. I’m no food critic, but there’s just something different about their dishes, and the way they present them. They really give meaning to what an art restaurant should be.

I don’t usually blog about food or restaurants unless I’ve been asked to review them here on Kutitots, but Leona’s is just… well… different. I paid for my own food, which basically gives me the freedom to say anything I wanted. Heck, I don’t even need to post an entry when you think about it. But I honestly think Leona’s Art Restaurant is worth recommending to you guys in case you pass by the place. I guess I just liked the food, the food preparation, and the ambiance 😀

I normally get the Soft Taco but for today we tried their Quesadilla as an entrée, which taste as good as my favorite taco.

Leona’s Art Restaurant, Quesadilla

For my main course, I had the Mozzarella Chicken. It was juicy and quite flavorful—I just love the blend of herbs. I love herbs, and I especially liked the way the fresh basil stood out in this dish. It could do with a bit of saltiness though, but other than that, I liked the way they put together the flavor of basil and wild mushrooms.

Leona’s Art Restaurant, Mozzarella Chicken

Marc had been craving for steak, so he got the New York Cut Steak with rice. The steak didn’t come with anything other than its sauce and tender beef, you’ll need to “create your own” and choose a “starch” partner such as Tortillas, Garlic Bread, Mashed Potatoes, etc. My husband is so not adventurous—he just got rice as his starch partner 😛

Leona’s Art Restaurant, New York Cut Steak

We also ordered Three Cheese Pizza, which is probably a huge mistake. It tastes good (especially if sprinkle dried chili on top), but the thing is, we had a hard time finishing it. I’m not sure what they exactly they put as “three cheeses,” but I did taste cheddar and mozzarella. Their handmade pizza dough isn’t crunchy like the usual pizza dough. It was chewy actually—a bit unusual, but I think it added character to their pizza. If you do order this, you might need to eat it immediately. The dough becomes a bit difficult to chew when it’s cold. The pizza sauce…Well, I’m a bit picky about pizza sauces, but I think this one makes the cut—I just love fresh tomatoes on pizza sauces.

Leona’s Art Restaurant, Three Cheese Pizza

For dessert, we had Brownie ala Mode. Another thing I’m picky about, it’s with brownies. I hate those that are so dry they crumble when I bite on them—these give me the feeling of wanting to choke from the crumbly pastry. But Leona’s as exactly as I wanted: chewy, and moist. I like anything with chocolate, so I might not be the best person to judge if this dessert tastes good or not. I’ll always say a chocolate dessert is good as long as it isn’t a dry, crumbly brownie. But that’s just me 🙂

Leona’s Art Restaurant, Brownie ala Mode

I was actually expecting that the dishes would be served all clumped together, not presented the way you see in these pictures. I usually think that artistically presented dishes cost a lot—it’s like the thing you equate to fine dining—but surprisingly, Leona’s menu is very affordable. The Soft Taco I love costs only Php60, Quesadilla Php100, Mozzarella Chicken meal Php150, New York Cut Steak Php130 and Rice Php8, Three Cheese Pizza (good for two) Php200. Not bad eh? (You can download their menu here: Page 1, Page 2)

Leona’s Art Restaurant
Interesting receiving area

Leona’s Art Restaurant
I love the combination of curvy and angled art

Leona’s Art Restaurant
Relax and play some tunes while waiting for your order

Another thing I like about this restaurant is its ambiance—I just love the ambiance. It’s so artistic (duh, it’s an art restaurant, it should be artistic). The lighting is very dramatic against the hot-colored walls (totally Bohemian), with touches art that might have been made by the owners themselves (I forgot to ask). But my favorite part is the garden. It’s a wonderful mixture of the two things I love: art and nature. I am so going to do something like this for the garden in our new home. The artsy-Bohemian design of the restaurant might be a bit much for some, but it suits my taste.

Leona’s Art Restaurant
An artist’s garden 🙂

Leona’s Art Restaurant
The smoking area right beside the garden: my favorite!

Leona’s Art Restaurant
More art stuff!

And don’t forget the “homey” feel. Not country style, mind you (it’s artistic, didn’t I say?). But real, “family” feel. Leona’s Art Restaurant is run by Leona and her kids. Gino, Leona’s son, took the orders with the help of his sister, while his brother did the cooking. We saw Leona by the counter, supervising things and while preparing the customers’ bills. Now, that’s what I call family business.

I’m a thrifty diner, and I’m used to eating at restaurants where presentation and ambiance is sacrificed for cost and taste. Leona’s Art Restaurant’s dishes taste good—maybe not as great as those of five-star restaurants. There are probably better Mexican restaurants out there (and Leona’s could also do with some improvements like making their rice warmer), but I think their prices are worth it. I don’t get to eat often at restaurants where artistic presentation and romantic ambiance aren’t part of the cost, and this, I think, is what sets Leona’s Art Restaurant from other affordable, family-run restaurants—and that, is really why I would recommend that you visit their place.

Leona’s Art Restaurant

I don’t have their exact address, but it’s quite easy to get there. Leona’s Art Restaurant is right across Dexter’s Bakeshop in Katipunan Avenue, White Plains. For more details, you can give them a call at (63 2) 421-43-34.