For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated by the ’50s. Maybe it’s because rock n’ roll was born in this decade, or maybe because I love old cars, I don’t know. I also happen to like the song “Route 66”, which is the one song you absolutely have to play on a road trip. Yes, even in the Philippines.
If you ever find yourself in Cebu and love things American, take a short road trip to Marigondon. One lazy afternoon recently, I loaded my son Marty up into the car and we cruised over to Plantation Bay Resort & Spa where we found Route 66, a ’50s-style diner filled with so much Americana, it’s not hard to think you’re back in Hill Valley in November 5, 1955.
It looks so authentic that I half expected to see Marty McFly and Doc Brown sitting in one of the booths trying to figure out how to get Marty back to the future. With a little bit of imagination, you can almost see James Dean, Elvis Presley, and maybe Archie Andrews and Jughead hanging out here.
Of course, if you’re in a diner, you gotta get a burger. In my opinion, diners are rated on how good their burgers are, and at Route 66, the burger doesn’t disappoint. They call theirs the “Powerhouse Burger”, and I have to admit, the name lives up to expectations.
It sounds pricey at P520.00 (around US$10), but that’s the going rate of premium burgers in the Philippines; then again, this is relatively cheap since this is in a five-star resort. For comparison, a famous American diner found in a mall in Cebu City sells their burger at the same price.
The patty is about an inch thick and it seems like it weighs more than a quarter of a pound, and the server always asks how you would like it done (medium well, of course). From my experience, that’s a sign that the folks at the eatery know what they’re doing.
The “Powerhouse” is served in a nicely toasted bun with black sesame seeds, while the patty is topped with an egg, fried sunny side up. This tasty piece of heaven comes to you kind of “deconstructed”, with the lettuce, tomato, and onion on the side, along with a couple of rashers of bacon. You also get a choice of French fries or potato wedges.
Be careful sinking your teeth into it though, because the egg yolk will pop and you don’t want it to drip all over that white t-shirt and dungarees of yours. Taste-wise, it’s how a burger should taste – beefy and savoury, with a little charring for that added extra, hip-shaking smoky flavour.
I’m a fan of buns and this one, I gotta say, is pretty firm. It doesn’t collapse into itself halfway eating through. Another great thing about the “Powerhouse” is that it’s just the right size. It’s not too big that you can’t finish it, or too small that you feel cheated when you’re done. In my opinion, Route 66’s Powerhouse Burger is up there with the best of them. If it doesn’t get you up on top of the counter bopping away to the classic hits, it will at the very least have you toe-tapping beneath it.
Aside from the Powerhouse Burger, Route 66 has the Hebrew National Dog, which is more or less the kind of hotdog I hear you can get at baseball games or at hotdog carts in New York. It’s delicious as hotdogs go (at least, of those I’ve tasted, local and imported alike), and very filling. The hotdog is pretty solidly packed, and not like some which make you feel like you’re biting into air. It’s P380.00 (approx. US$8), but every order comes with a choice of fries, wedges, or hash browns.
Marty had tempura-style fish and chips (P380.00). It’s more “Asian” in flavour given the batter, but it’s tasty nonetheless. The cook uses molmol, or parrotfish, which is tastier and has a firmer texture than the more popular cream dory. It comes with tartar sauce, although you can ask for soy sauce if your taste leans more towards the original Japanese version.
For dessert, we shared a cup of Plantation Bay’s home-made strawberry ice-cream – I’ve always been a sucker for strawberry ice-cream. There’s also chocolate, vanilla, and a host of other flavours, but the acknowledged best seller is the peanut butter flavour.
Aside from these items, a bunch of other American diner mainstays are available at Route 66 like rib-eye steaks, chili con carne, chicken wings, apple pie, and key lime pie.
Whatever you order, I’m pretty sure you’ll be very satisfied. And when you get home, you can tell everyone you got your kicks at Route 66.
[Note: This is not sponsored content]
Words by Jigs Arquiza
Photos provided by Plantation Bay Resort & Spa
Jigs Arquiza is a journalist-turned-mechanic who lives on the island of Cebu, Philippines. He’s been cooking since he was 12 years old, but refuses to go professional because he doesn’t want to get into arguments about how authentic his food is. You can follow him on Instagram at @eatssogood