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[Review] Van Gogh is Bipolar Restaurant, Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, Philippines

It has been a while since I made one of those restaurant review types of post. I normally don't write reviews of eating places I have gone to unless I have visited 3 or more times and have tried more than a few items on the menu, but I will make an exception to this particular restaurant in Maginhawa Street in Quezon City.

I received an invitation from some ex-work friends to have lunch at Maginhawa Street (an area that is increasingly being known as a foodie place for some time now) a few months back and they gave me the dubious honor of choosing where to eat (it is a double-edged sword, choose wisely and they will be delighted with your choice but choose a wrong restaurant and you risk getting all the blame). I relented and mentioned casually that I have heard so much about the Van Gogh is Bipolar Restaurant and would like to try it out. They have already tried the restaurant on separate occasions but they agreed with my suggestion.

This is a restaurant that is not just about the food but is all about the total experience. I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone in case you would like to try it out for yourselves (I know it is quite an odd thing to say for a restaurant review), but suffice it to say that I have never experienced anything quite like it. From the very entrance of the restaurant (I knew I had the correct address but couldn't find where the restaurant is, that is until I asked the security guard stationed in the driveway), to the eclectic look of the various decors inside the interior of the restaurant (the interior is very cozy and has a very limited seating capacity), to the non-emphasis on what food you like to eat and shifting instead to what mood you would like to experience during the meal (I can't even describe anything specific about the food since according to the menu, there are no fixed menu items and everything is "seasonal" and "depending on availability"). You do have some control on what you will eat even if you signed up for any of their "feast" offerings (as far as I know they also offer "ala carte" ordering but we opted for the "experience feast") since you will need to fill up a short survey form in terms of food allergies, level of spiciness, and general preferences (if you are vegetarian or pescetarian for example).

A host will give an informative briefing at the start of each course. This includes different alcoholic shots interspersed during the meal (it was the first time I had tasted absinthe which was reputedly Vincent Van Gogh's favorite drink) with instructions to toast each and everyone at the table in a different language and to make sure to look each other in the eye each time.

More than the food, ambiance, and the general dining experience, there is also a certain advocacy element to the whole thing. Dishes are named from famous historical figures and celebrities that have come forward as having bipolar disorder and there are tidbits of information that is either discussed during the pre-course briefing or in the decors of the restaurant about mental health.

Overall it was an interesting experience and something that I would gladly recommend to others (or bring friends over so that they can experience it themselves). The meal was a bit on the pricey side if you just look at it in terms of the food but it can also be argued that the whole thing was more than just the meals. For me, it was more like a curated experience that makes it worth trying at least once. Would I go there often? Probably not. If I knew somebody who would like to go and experience it for the first time, I would not hesitate to say: "count me in!".



Anonymous said...

That salad is way too tiny for me. I'd feel stiffed at VGiB prices.

Anonymous said...

What mood was that meal supposed to invoke?

JEP said...

If I remember correctly, I answered calming/anxiety-busting in the questionnaire.