Feature: Van Gogh is Bipolar

I had the most extraordinary dining experience over the weekend, I cannot even begin to tell you. I’ve been hearing about this unusual restaurant in Maginhawa QC called “Van Gogh is Bipolar”, which I’ve been dying to go to for the longest time. And since the husband and I were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary, we figured we might as well have our little dinner celebration there.

Warning: Photo-heavy post up ahead…

This is what the resto looks like from outside. Yup, you can’t see it because it is completely covered with greens. No signage, no anything. Β I like that you kind of have to search for it, like the hidden treasure that it is.

Found this in the garden. Strange isn’t it? Hmm….I think I had a pair of shoes like that back in the early 90s. K-Swiss right?

We had to wait here by the entrance till they opened at 6pm. We were just about seven people at that time. I hear the resto is first come-first served, so you really have to come early.

We left our footwear by the door. Strictly no shoes inside. So if you plan to strut your new pair of pumps for dinner, forget it. It will just make friends with the doormat outside.

As we entered I immediately noticed how dim the lights were. And the most obvious thing would be the enormous amount of knick-knacks all over the place. I can just imagine how hard it is to dust everything. My brain went numb just thinking about it.

Jethro the owner, warmly greeted us at the door. I was kind of starstruck because the way people described him and the place, well he seemed like a celebrity. I’ve been told before that he is bipolar and that he cooks the most amazing food this side of town. Β That evening, he was dressed in jeans and a button down shirt and was barefoot, like the rest of us.

I don’t know about the other customers but I immediately felt at home, as if we were his house guests. He asked us if it was our first time there. You see, first timers are required to read and understand the house rules. It says “Stupid & Idiots are welcome”. It also mentions that there aren’t any servers in this resto.

On the walls. Whoah.

On the ceiling. How in the world did those end up there?

We were invited to help ourselves to some tea. The husband and I chose a nice teapot from this batch.

Choose your pick. I chose “Happy Chill” as I was in a happy chill kind of mood.

That square thing opens up as the kitchen window, where most of the interaction happens. If you need anything, you just ring the bell. If you’re ready to order, get a piece of paper and write it down with your name. When you’re done, ring the bell, and give it to the person on the other end. That’s it. Oh, this is also where you have to return all the used plates. Remember, no servers here so you have to help out. It’s part of the rules.

One of the lovely corners. Notice the writings on the wall. Vandalism is considered acceptable behavior here.

Another part of the resto which seats more people.

On the left part of this room is a wall with a teabar and this collage of eerie-looking photos.

Best seats in the house. It’s nearest the kitchen window so you don’t need to walk far to fetch your food. hehe. That’s really how dark it is in the place. The photos above were just taken with some flash to show the details.

In this resto, guests are invited to wear hats just for the fun of it. We chose these. Can’t believe I did the duck face. Felt like a good idea at that time. Now I just feel like an idiot.

While waiting for the food to come, we were also invited to carve our names on the tea bar. How many restos will let you do that to their furniture? Not a lot, yes?

I explored the place further as the order really takes a while. Took my cam with me all the way to the restroom and this greeted me by the doorway. I thought I was gonna have a coronary.

This place is the dark room, which is connected to the restroom. It is lit with black light and restaurant guests are invited to write their deepest darkest secrets in this room, or as the skeleton says “Write your skeletons in the closet”.

The words “stole my friend’s BF”, “car sex” and “Kim heart Joe” were written on this shirt. Come on people! Is that the best you can do??? πŸ™‚ How about something like “I used to be a man” or “I have a Tweety bird tattoo and I like it”. No? Okay fine….

Oh so many dark secrets, so little time.

Inside the restroom (no toilet shots here). I like this mirror. Old, charming and full of clutter.

More trinkets

This looks familiar. From the Takatak project I assume? πŸ™‚ I have the same one in my office desk but in a different design. Blogged about it here.

Back at the table, the hub chose the four course meal priced at P777. Β While I went for the Last Supper which was priced at P1,500. The Last Supper is a fresh by-product of Jethro’s recent kitchen experimentation. I was excited to try it. We actually didn’t know the components of the meals as there are no menus in this restaurant. You just have to trust him. He also changes the restaurant’s offerings frequently so by the time you come, I’m not sure if the last supper will still be offered.

Yes, you read it right, NO MENUS. So if you’re into carefully selecting your food and want full control of whatever goes in your mouth, then this might throw you off a bit. But, if you’re game and have an adventurous palate, then this is definitely your kind of place.

We started off with the Axl Rose Egg Shot. They also have something that has “Courtney Love” in the name. The egg is organic, and you have to break it open and pour the egg yolk into the shooter. The shooter is a thick mixture of sauces, spices and herbs I think. We learned that in Paris, the egg shot is quite common.

Jethro was teaching me how to do the egg shot. He also said that in Germany, they shouted “Prost!” which means “Cheers!” everytime they had to take a shot. I shouted “Prost!”, waved the shot glass in the air and bravely downed the thick concoction. Due to the texture, it crawled very slowly down my throat. I would describe it as a sweet and spicy sauce with a rich consistency, perhaps due to the egg yolk.

We helped ourselves to more tea while we waited for the rest of our food to arrive.

And then in what felt like forever, our names were finally called. Here’s my soup filled with edible flowers. Tasted really ummm…botanical for lack of a better term. It was pretty unusual. Hey, it’s not everyday that you get to eat fresh flowers. This is surprisingly tasty and you kind of need a moment to make a mental checklist of the stuff that goes down your throat…yup, that’s definitely a petal, no it’s a leaf…oops I think the stem just got jammed in my teeth…the latter by the way, really happened.

And this was the Last Supper. I know right? Holy. Freakin. Cow. I literally gasped in my seat when I had to get this from the kitchen window. I balanced the weight of the huge platter in my hands. When I set it on the table I needed some time to process what was in front of me. I didn’t know where to begin. Although Jethro told me to start with the small stuff first and work make my way to the bigger portions, to me everything looked big! I was overwhelmed by the mere sight of it.

This dish is all organic. I guess so is the rest of the food served in this resto. Van Gogh is Bipolar opened because Jethro follows a strict diet of healthy food and I guess he wanted to share that with the world…or at least with the few curious souls who wind up in his resto thanks to word-of-mouth.

In the center of the dish, underneath those layers of red cabbage is a huge serving of black mountain rice which we’ve learned is the best kind of rice in the Philippines. It felt a bit tough to chew, as I am used to eating rice that is soft but still very flavorful. The only downside is, your lips will change color the moment you start eating it. This may not best for first dates. Just imagine yourself chatting away, trying your best to dazzle your date with your wit and charm, and then your date just stares at your mouth in sheer horror.

Moving on…

There was also chicken, pasta and salmon. That goblet that you see there on the upper right with some seeds swimming in it, is some sort ofΒ vinaigrette which you have to take a sip of, if you feel a little overwhelmed by the plethora of flavors. Once in a while Jethro would come out of his kitchen and just pour thick sauce on my pasta, or would call my name from his kitchen window to give me some basil or more cabbage. Oh speaking of cabbage, he says that cabbage has a natural component that can induce happiness. So for those of you who are wallowing in despair, it’s time to stock up on your cabbage! Or you can just jump…whatever. I’M KIDDING. Geez, keep your hair on. πŸ™‚

The trick to eating a whopper of a dish like this is that you have to really take your time with it. This ain’t fast food so take the necessary breaks in between, that way when the food digests, you have more space in your tummy to explore the rest. This photo really doesn’t do justice to the food. But all I can say is that my taste buds were twirling and dancing and doing all sorts of back flips. Yes my taste buds are quite limber thank you very much.

This one is mozarella with caviar on top. Two words. I. DIED.Β 

And to end our lovely fiber-rich meal, Jethro came out of the kitchen to give us dessert which came in the form of a test tube filled with vodka and a shooter with chocolate and walnut in it. We were asked to down the vodka first and follow up with the chocolate as the chaser. Strange combination huh? I was mostly scared that I would choke on the chocolate so I made a mental note of where the nearest hospital was.

The vodka as predicted burned my throat, but the moment I followed it up with a spoonful of chocolate…Holy %*&^(*(&$!!!!! Β The vodka effortlessly brought out all the flavors of the chocolate and my eyes just popped out of its sockets. Who would have thought that those two would go so well together?! Unbelievable.

When we were ready to leave, we checked the house rules again for the rules on payment. Apparently, they follow an honesty system here. Meaning you leave your payment in the red box, get your own change and write your own receipt. Can you believe that? So please if you have plans of coming to this restaurant, respect this policy and don’t try to pull a fast one lest you be struck down by lightning. Kidding aside, it’s never wise to break that kind of trust. It ruins the experience for everyone so don’t even think about it!

I left Van Gogh is Bipolar with a silly grin on my face. Partly because I felt a little buzzed (not a big Vodka drinker here) or maybe because a lot of the food on my plate were supposed to elicit happy feelings. Now that’s what I call a Happy Meal, and it had nothing to do with greasy fries and fatty burgers.

The whole experience was just surreal. I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland where things just got curiouser and curiouser. I still have a restaurant hang-over, if there is such a thing. And I don’t know if any other dining experience will ever top that. Jethro said that he’s closing for a month (this happens often I hear), but the moment he opens again I suggest you troop over to that place in Maginhawa QC. Just make sure to send a text or leave a message in their Facebook pageΒ to see if they’re open. The place is small so it can only accommodate a few people at a time so be there promptly at 6pm, otherwise you lose your seat. Last but not the least, I haveΒ three pieces of advice for you so please remember these before you go:

1) Leave your inhibitions at the door

2) Fully submit yourself to the experience

3) Don’t be a Diva

Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Van Gogh is Bipolar

154-H Maginhawa Street Sikatuna Village Quezon City

Mobile: 0922 824 3051

Facebook page:Β http://www.facebook.com/vgibipolar

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26 thoughts on “Feature: Van Gogh is Bipolar

  1. I so enjoy reading about your experience. and if i were another person, and do not have this i-have-a-very-weak-tummy-and everything-upsets-it condition, I’d have tried it. But if i do this now, Jethro might just strangle me. Let’s keep Jethro happy and me alive. πŸ˜€

  2. You had me at mozzarella with caviar. πŸ™‚

    This sounds like something I want to try. I don’t think my husband will be up for it, but I’m sure I can find someone who will happily come with me. Putting this on my restaurant bucket list.

  3. I bet it’s going to be one culinary adventure, but knowing my hubby, I might not be able to step foot on van gogh. I will miss the experience.
    Nice review, aimee! πŸ˜‰ Btw, I gladly shared this on FB. πŸ˜‰

  4. oh my aimee, the way you narrated it, i felt like i was there with you! πŸ™‚ it kinda freaked me out though but nonetheless, it left me curious that i wanted to try the experience πŸ™‚

  5. You write very well, Aimee. With the way how you described each dish and each corner of the place, feeling ko kasama akong na-experience yun.

    I have to look for a companion na willing akong samahan jan πŸ™‚ I don’t think hubby’s third eye will be very much delighted to see the place although I do know that his taste buds will jump up and down and round and round once matikman niya ang dishes πŸ™‚

  6. Heard a lot of good reviews from another friend about this place. And, thanks to your very detailed review, it might just be the place for me should I feel a bit more adventurous (although I’m more a creature of habit). Though the place reminds me of something straight out of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” πŸ™‚

    • You’re right! πŸ™‚ It also looks like the kind of place you’d hold a seance or something, that is if your intention is to freak out the guests. Slightly creepy but very fascinating πŸ™‚

  7. Same feeling I had when we came there with my fiance.. so CC… Creepy and Cool πŸ™‚

  8. Hi! Interesting place and experience! Must try! Thanks for sharing this =) Nice photos too!
    -P

  9. What an experience! Been hearing about this place from friends, and after reading your post, am so excited to try it!

    Hi, Aimee! Love your blog! πŸ™‚

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