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With the busyness of city life, sometimes we need a breathing space. For the people living in Bacolod City, Philippines and nearby areas, we need not go very far. Punong Gary’s Place in Silay City not only provides us with good food and a nice tranquil ambiance but also lets its guests commune with nature. It is not only the body that is being nourished but the soul as well.

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Mango trees line the well-paved dirt road leading to Punong Gary’s Place.

Punong Gary’s Place is about a twenty minutes drive from the northern part of Bacolod City. It opened for business in May 2016 and is continuously expanding their facilities. Punong is fishpond in Ilonggo, the dialect of the most part of the province of Negros Occidental of which Bacolod City belongs. Gary’s is literally within the fully operational fishpond property of the owner’s parents. It is so lush with vegetation. There are many big trees to give ample shade. Plants and wild flowers abound.

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Front view of the entrance.

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Back view of the entrance.

The whole property is a feast to the eyes. Everywhere you look is either green or water and the fresh air has a calming effect. Artworks especially antiques are plenty. From the entrance, a crushed stones pathway surrounded by trees and plants lead to the main dining area. Big old trees give ample shade while dining.

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The simple structures sans the fancy finishing give the place an air of rustic charm. Table and seating facilities are nice and comfortable. The main building is actually the hacienda or farm house of the owner’s family. Beside the main dining area is one of the three swimming pools.

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There is a small “island” in the middle of a pond where milkfish (bangus) and seabass are being cultured. With a rental of P 2,000, you can have this area for your exclusive use. My friends and I were lucky that they served our lunch here because some work was being done at the main dining area in preparation for Valentine’s Day.

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If one needs privacy, there is another swimming pool a little bit farther in the middle of the fishponds. There is a fully furnished shed where guests can lounge. As with all the structures of the place, there are trees to give shade.

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Food

Punong Restaurant serves only a 5-course plated lunch every Wednesdays thru Sundays at P750 per person. Reservation is strictly required. A staff will ask what you want for the main course upon reservation. You will be given choices. Lunch includes a welcome drink, appetizers, salad, soup, a main course and dessert. They have a selection of coffee to order from for those who wish to have one after lunch. Generally, the servings are generous. The food selection is nothing fancy. They may be simple dishes but they tasted so good. They are a blend of local and foreign cuisines. Many of the ingredients used are from their farm.

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Cucumber lemon juice for our welcome drink.

For appetizers, we had three. The Fish Flakes on Crispy Kangkong is kangkong (water spinach) crisp with milkfish flakes topping and lemon butter sauce. It was so yummy! No fishy taste at all. The sauce on top did not diminish the crispiness of the kangkong. In Pilipino, I would say it was “bitin”. The Chicken ala King Popover was very delicious as well. It is chicken bits, bell pepper and carrots on a bread popover. I like bruschetta so I was glad that they included the Tomato and Basil Bruschetta among the appetizers.

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The Tahini Salad is not only visually good looking but was also very appetizing. So refreshing. It is mixed lettuce with mango, watermelon, sesame seeds and tahini dressing.

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I love the Roasted Pumpkin Soup. It was creamy but not starchy.

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My two friends and I shared our main courses so we could try everything. The Roasted Pork Belly is pork belly with a blend of local spices on it and red wine sauce. They provided some additional sauce. The dish was very tasteful and the sauce was so good.

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The Osso Buco is slow cooked beef chunks with chorizo, banana saba, and garbanzos in thick tomato sauce. This was very nice. The beef was tender and the very tasty sauce had just enough thickness.

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The Free Range Chicken Pesto Parmesan was delicious. It is chicken inasal (grilled chicken) in pesto sauce and parmesan cheese garnished with nuts and herbs. The chicken meat was tender and because it is free range, the marinated meat was very tasty. I like this dish.

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We had Blueberry Cheesecake in a Jar for dessert. I am not very fond of cheesecakes but I like this one. It was not very sweet.

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Service by the staff starting from reservations was very good.

On Thursdays and Fridays, it is Tapas Night at Gary’s at P 350 per person which is consumable. There is an array of tapas, sliders, pasta, sandwiches and pica-picas. There is also a variety of cocktails, mock-tails, coffee, tea and more.

Gary’s is open for exclusive bookings for lunch or dinner for a minimum of twelve persons. Special arrangements should be made in advance.

Accommodations

Guests can stay overnight in the unpretentious but elegantly decorated casitas. The casitas can accommodate up to six persons. Rates include free breakfast. A la carte dishes are available for the staying guests. These casitas offer the guests privacy even if the bathrooms have glass roofs. They are surrounded by trees and plants and are either near the fishponds or the mangroves.

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Punong Gary’s Place is located at Hacienda Tinihaban in Silay City. It is about a twenty minutes drive north of Bacolod City. It is past the city proper of Silay. When you see the transloading station of the Hawaiian Philippine Company Sugar Central, a few meters away on the left side of the highway is Pryce Gas. After it is a waiting shed and beside the shed is a dirt road going to Gary’s. There are signages until you reach the place. The roads are well-paved so I think it is not a problem during the rainy season.

Business Hours:

Wednesdays – Sundays 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

5-course lunch, strictly with reservations only

Thursdays and Fridays 3:00 – 10:00 pm.

Tapas Night

Gary’s accepts walk-ins for Tapas Nights but reservation is highly recommended. For big groups of more than eight persons, reservation is required.

You may text or call 0917-327-1729 for reservations or inquiries. You can also send them a message on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/punongsilay.

Solar panels provide electricity to Gary’s . Wifi is available at the dining areas.

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Punong Gary’s Place gives back to the community. A portion of their earnings goes to the Takas Youth Community to support their Clean and Green Project. The project converts biodegradable materials into potent vermicompost which is supplied to the farmers who grow vegetables and root crops which they sell to Punong Restaurant.

We stayed for almost four hours at Gary’s. It was a very relaxing afternoon shared with good friends. We are thinking of coming back for one of the Tapas Nights together with our other friends who were not able to join us in our food trip.

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Bamboos line the exit fronting the entrance door.
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Eucalyptus trees line the exit after the series of bamboos.
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