November 01, 2013

Magic Lagoon

Hello, hello: S&F is back from its hiatus. A lot has happened in the interim between this and my last post. I had gotten -- and left, when my training bond expired -- a job in legal publishing. I decided to follow my passion stomach and applied for a job at one of my favorite food magazines. I got the job plus ten more pounds (it comes with the territory). I decided to expand the blog to include short dining reviews, so here's a disclaimer: Every meal I write about is paid for by my own money (or my family's, or my boyfriend's, but you get the point), unless otherwise stated. These are my own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of the magazine I work for, nor any other establishment or entity. I fact-check everything but if you find any discrepancies, please feel free to e-mail me or comment.

On to the review:

Magic Lagoon is an unassuming bar & grill in Subic. The entrance looks plain enough to make you question the bevy of cars parked outside, but the inquisitive diner is rewarded with lush greenery upon entering. There are man-made falls, a creek, trees everywhere, and even a freshwater lake. You can even do cartwheels on the al fresco area without disturbing other tables (I'm not saying you should or that it's appropriate behavior, but you could) -- it's that spacious.

The farm to table concept is one of 2013's biggest food trends, but Magic Lagoon takes it a step further: here, it's literally line to plate. You can opt to rent a fishing rod and the restaurant will cook your catch for you for a small fee. This man was a beast on the waterfront, catching buckets after buckets of fish.

Since it was a bit hot for fishing, I ordered from the a la carte menu instead. This was my mistake.

I had grilled liempo, garlic shrimp, crispy buntot ng tuna, and sinigang na kambing. The standout was the kambing. I expected the meat to be tough and gamy, but it was tender. Your teeth don't tear so much as sink into the meat. The soup had just the right degree of sourness; drizzled over garlic rice, it is perfection. The other dishes were good, but they tasted very much like the food you can get at the numerous dampas in Manila. Don't get me wrong -- the food here has its charms. It's good, homey, and unpretentious. But if I wanted dampa food, I would have gone there. And so I found myself regretting my order and envying the next table. They were digging into their freshly caught, freshly grilled fish with relish. Judging by the speed with which they cleared their plates, whatever they had must have been very, very good. Magic Lagoon may not be a place where every dish is a winner, but it is a place that rewards effort. Don't make my mistake. When you dine here, be patient and fish: you just might find yourself falling for Magic Lagoon hook, line, and sinker.

Magic Lagoon is located at Building 716 Bincentennial Park, Rizal Highway, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales.