IssaEats: Ampersand @ Banilad Town Center, Cebu




Along the halls of the Banilad Town Center (BTC) is a bustling restaurant that is warmly lit and filled with people. With it’s interior looking like it popped out of a movie screen, it is no surprise that people are flocking to go there for the eye party but they find themselves coming back for their great food and excellent service.

 For obvious reasons, I’d most likely find myself at the bar sipping on a Hendricks Jive while waiting for a handsome man to use a funny pick up line on me. I know it’s not really going to happen, this is Cebu after all, but the cinematic appeal of it all is just so dreamy. Indeed, liquor is quicker and I’m looking forward to my next drunken session at no other than at Ampersand.


Paolo and I really enjoyed this place the first time we went a couple of months ago- up until now he still speaks highly of their risotto which he graced as his favorite risotto in Cebu. It was to my disappointment that I wasn’t able to take enough photos of the first time we went because as soon as I sunk my teeth into my Sous Vide, I knew that I would never be able to spell it without double checking with my spell checker but I would always remember how flavorful that piece of meat was. I loved it!

Fortunately for me, the blogging world has been nothing but kind lately and I was invited a couple of weeks ago to try out more of their dishes. I don’t usually tag Paolo along with me during group invites unless requested so since he had to stay home that night, all critique will just be from yours truly.

Here we go!


First on the list was this Salmon Tartare, in Dill-Shallot Vinaigrette, Sous Vide Egg White. Quick fact, I only started appreciating Salmon about 5 years ago. Prior to that, I either stayed away from anything raw (sashimi) or fish in general. So basically, I’m still learning how to love seafood but with this appetizer, it didn’t take me much convincing. I loved the vinaigrette kick and the taste of salmon and in fact, I had 4 servings. HA!


Truffle Scented Mushroom Cappuccino. I’m not a big truffle fan because I don’t find the scent as inviting as others do; although the scent of this soup was a bit too strong for me, I did enjoy the mushroom and cappuccino mix. It was definitely something new to my palate and if this is something you’d also want to try, I’d suggest sharing it with a friend first because it is a generous serving.


The lemongrass-Turmeric & Ginger Chicken, Baba Ghanoush (phew!) is one of Ampersand’s best sellers… and with well reason. The Baba Ghanoush was the perfect neutralizer to the chicken and everything about it was simply superb. I feel like I made love to this chicken. I feel like I wouldn’t mind making love to it over and over again.


As mentioned earlier, I’m not completely a fan of all sea food so I honestly picked out pieces of my Seafood Risotto. The risotto I devoured, along with the salmon and prawns but you’ll have to ask something else what they thought of the squid and tuna as I didn’t bother to touch it. I do recommend getting their risottos though just because Paolo loved it and I always support the things he loves… like myself. lol.


Thyme & Cumin Roasted Rack of Lamb on Green Tea Cous Cous & Vegetable Ratatouille. The lamb was pretty good, and I generally loved the presentation of this plate. By now you can identify the aesthetic signature of Ampersands head chef and he is totally rocking it! I would probably order this dish again but have it with potatoes instead of cous cous if it’s even possible. I love mashed potatoes.


32-day dry aged Prime US Angus Rib Eye. I truly enjoyed this steak and the fact that you can choose your sidings of either mashed potatoes or a salad. I loved it.


Fresh Strawberry & Mango Pavlova


Citron Green Tea Cheesecake, Chocolate Ganache Cake. Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies

My favorite of all the deserts served to us that night were the Mango & Strawberry Pavlova  and the Citron Green Tea Cheesecake. The chocolate ganache and double chocolate brownies were also really good but if you’re like me and you prefer something fruitier than heavy chocolate then I highly suggest my top 2 choices.


With fellow Cebu bloggers





Ampersand, which is located at the Banilad Town Center, not only serves dinner and drinks- they also have an impressive display of cold cuts and cheese that can be paired with wine or for take out.

Find out more about them on their Facebook page for events and updates!

See you there,


IssaEats: My (CURRENT) Favorite Burger Place


I’m not a food blogger, but I know my burgers (and pizza and steaks and potaoes and corn…). Paolo’s first birthday gift to me was an entire box of 4 cheese pizza from Yellow Cab; on our first date as a couple, I ordered a Cheese burger from Dong Juan; on out of town trips, I always have someone bring me back a burger and if mashed potatoes in a box were decent, we’d probably have them everday. Yep, that’s the kind of people we are.

Last Decemeber, I went to Manila to eat burgers. Unintended, of course but boy, did I eat a lot of burgers in a span of a week! And every chance I get, i’m always tasting new ones regardless of how affordable or pricey it is. Yes, I’ve tried Angel’s and Minute Burger; Yes, I’ve had the McDonald’s black and white burger even if I haven’t been to HK yet and it was only available there and yes, I did get a giant burger for my birthday. So what I’m really trying to say here is:

Burgers are my life, people. It’s not just a quick snack on the way home… It’s the main course!

So far, the top places on my list are: 8 cut burgers (Manila), Kri (Dumaguette), Backyard Burgers (Bacolod) and finally, Fat Cow here in Cebu City.

It is important that I make it apparent to you as early as now that I am a no frills type of burger eater. In the exemption of BB’s, I like my burgers based on the perfect blend of the right bun (even if I highly dislike bread), basic condiments, a quality seasoned patty made of course from good meat, and your everyday tomatoes, onions and lettuce. Oh, and cheese. LOTS OF CHEDDAR CHEESE. Burgers with fancy sauce just don’t cut it for me, they seem more like fancy sandwiches which is why I have been finding it so hard to find a local burger place to love here in the metro.



On one of our take out adventures, Paolo and I decided to try out Fat Cow located in BTC. I’ve been hearing mostly good reviews in the past year but since we live in the South, Fat Cow hasn’t really been a top priority to us. But boy am I glad that I suddenly got cramps in the middle of the car ride home which required immediate soothing thus, landing us there.


(Angus Burger P230.00)

In the 4 years that Paolo and I have been together, nothing has ever come close to his Charlies Grind and Grill angus burger but FINALLY, he has made room in his heart to a close 2nd. Priced at P230.00, it made me appreciate how awesome burgers were again after a long time of force feeding myself with generic tasting patties.


(Bacon Cheeseburger P190.00)

It if were up to me, I would’ve just ordered a cheese burger but since Paolo did the ordering, I landed with a Bacon Cheeseburgr instead. I’ve had bad experiences with these kinds of burgers because I can either not taste the patty because of the bacons overpowering saltiness or I end up not tasting the bacon at all because of the patty but this burger was just the right blend of everything and i’m going to exaggerate a little and say, it created a beautiful harmony in my mouth. Also, i. really.loved.that.patty.and.the.lettuce.was.not.soggy!!

Fat Cow isn’t one of those bang for buck burgers because honestly, it’s quite a pricey burger. With individually priced burgers ranging from P150.00 up, you’d still have to pay an additional P100.00 for a drink and fries. We opted out because 1. I wasn’t ordering, 2. Paolo thinks it’s high time we went on a diet. (As if not having fries would make any difference. Ha!)

With the well known fact that it is a bit of an expensive burger, I’ll still tell you that it’s a burger I would pay good money for! If I wanted a cheap burger, I’d go to McDonald’s and if you wanted something greasy and worth your money, Paolo would take you to Burger Joint. But so far, I’m feeling pretty accomplished and I can finally say that I have a favorite burger place in Cebu. FINALLYYYYY!!

Fat Cow is located at the Banilad Town Center. Find out more about them HERE

Til our next food adventure!

Issa (and Paolo)

P.s. I’ve decided to do more food blogs which will most likely involve Paolo because he knows food waaay more than I do. So let me know what you guys think of our new collab which I haven’t really told him about yet. Hihihi

Soak Up @ The Nail Island

10491208_675593249202059_5746619484489761993_n Cabana – /kəˈban(y)ə/

a cabin, hut, or shelter, especially one at a beach or swimming pool. Otherwise known as the epitome of relaxation, if you’re a beach bum like most Cebuanos are, of course.

Located at the ground floor of the Banilad Town Center, Cabana proudly houses everything beach-y from swim suits by Soak Swimwear to cover ups, sunnies and other merchandise perfect for your sun loving needs!

And if in case you can’t get your beach bum on, you can always give your nails the pampering they need at the Nail Island which is located inside the store.

Take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the Metro and just sit back and relax inside the beach inspired nail salon while you enjoy their many services perfect for your tired hands and feet!

I dropped by Cabana this weekend and the interior, services and the over all feel of the place blew me away!

I indulged in a foot indulgence pedicure and a seaside rush manicure that afternoon and left with an intense longing to dip my feet in the water. But despite my lack for salt water, I now have pretty hands and feet and with my extremely hectic schedule is actually better. 😀




10410623_675591472535570_4896692760387694484_nCheck out Soak


Swimwear’s collection of swim wear on



And Nail Island on