The chic restaurant is an ode to the Sunday family lunch, heirloom dishes, laughter and togetherness.
Like all country houses, this one in Tagaytay has many stories to tell—and it does so through its food and design. It belongs to a family that made use of it for reunions, parties, and Sunday lunches that would go well into the evening when cicadas begin to sing and the cool Tagaytay weather makes you reach for a warmer sweater.
This elegant space is now My Country House Tagaytay, the Raintree Group’s newest restaurant, where the spacious porch is open and breezy, and the garden is partly manicured and partly left alone for the 40 different species of trees and plants to grow as huge or as small as they wanted.
After the rain, you can smell the grass as your shoes slightly sink into the damp soil and then you see the American Silky chickens, one of them looking like it got up on the wrong side of the coop.
One thing the restaurant kept in its dining area is the family’s long, thick wooden table that could sit as many as 20 people. It makes you imagine the kind of Sundays they had in this country house—the food, the stories they exchanged, the laughter of children that was constantly replaced and echoed by the new babies in the family.
My Country House remains true to the traditional country style that draws inspiration from barn and farmhouse designs in rural areas—but with so such sophistication that you want to turn over every china to see the brand so you could buy it for your own home as well.
Located off the busy roads of Tagaytay, it sits beside Raintree’s farm-to-table concept Farmer’s Table. My Country House can accommodate 130 people seated and more for a cocktail setting.
The matriarch of the family that owns this house and land so enjoyed eating at The Farmer’s Table next door that last year she reached out to the Wisniewski family (founders of the Raintree Hospitality Group) to offer their Tagaytay rest house for any project they had in mind.
“It was too good to pass up,” says Andrej Wisniewski of the Raintree Group as he describes how they initially had no plans of opening another restaurant so close to The Farmer’s Table. But they just put everything in motion to make it all work out.
“As soon as I saw the video of the home, I said ‘done’,” recalls Martin Wisniewski of the Raintree Hospitality Group.
And so while chef Arnold Gozon and his culinary team were turning the Wisniewskis’ vision into a menu, Raintree founder Annabel Wisniewski, her sons Martin and Andrej, and interior designer Manny Samson were turning this “dream project” into a country restaurant that everyone would want to spend time in.
The function of the porch was and still is as the main dining area. Except instead of one family enjoying the space, it is now open for all (and their pets) to relax, walk through the garden, enjoy great food, and celebrate milestones.
They renovated the porch, sourced furniture pieces that have a casually sophisticated look (all Raintree restaurants have mismatched chic pieces), put a retail area for pastries, cakes and locally made pasalubong items (snacks, essential oils and the like), and made the terrace behind the bar into a lounge that can accommodate 30 guests.
The most important thing, jokes Andre, is getting the three American Silky chickens Tina, Ike, and Gonzo to complete the country farmhouse vibe.
Flavors built around the Sunday family lunch
It’s incredible how much food plays into the Filipino culture beyond its role as nourishment. When we travel, we buy food as pasalubong; when we have parties or want someone to feel better physically or emotionally, we bring food; and our Sunday lunches with family and friends sometimes feel like feasts.
Executive chef Arnold Gozon approached heirloom dishes with sophistication, using different techniques and surprising ingredients. A collaboration between the Wisniewskis and chef Arnold, the menu is inspired by classic Western cuisine and familial memories.
Arnold’s three decades in the culinary industry taught him that Sunday lunch fare like pochero, a favorite of his own family as well as the Wisniewskis, had to suit the context of My Country House. And, voila, he came up with his version of Tagaytay’s famous bulalo with fall-off-the-bone beef shank and oxtail. Spanish chorizo, chicken, chickpeas, carrots, plantains, cabbage, and choi sum are cooked and served in a rich bone broth. It’s served with three different condiments, each coming from families connected to My Country House: tomato sofrito from the owners of the land, charred eggplant salad relish from chef Arnold’s family, and squash compote from the Wisniewskis.
Another heirloom dish from the Wisniewskis is their signature lengua estofado, which has ox tongue braised low and slow until incredibly tender and served with wild mushrooms, Spanish chorizo, Spanish green olives, and on the side are potatoes with crispy Jamon Serrano. The dish was inspired by their late grandmother, Honorata Fajardo, who was also a successful restaurateur. The Sunday pochero and lengua estofado are prime examples of the vision behind My Country House.
The menu also contains timeless European favorites like cheese gougeres, French pastry puffs filled with cream cheese and basil and topped with shredded parmesan); Italian-inspired handmade pappardelle with slow-braised oxtail ragu topped with gremolata, rosemary and freshly grated parmesan; and of course paella, which comes in two variants: negra (arborio rice cooked in flavorful squid ink with bonito flakes, aioli, squid, and pimento) and seafood (closer to the traditional paella with prawns, squid, mussels, Toscana peppers, and whole roasted garlic).
Popular American dishes are also available like the char-grilled 100% Angus beef cheeseburger and Steak to Share, a bone-in US Angus ribeye dry-aged for 21 days.
Some dishes have been modified to cater to the Filipino palate like the crispy pork knuckle confit, which is the chef’s version of the classic crispy pata made using French techniques; and the country chicken relleno—my personal favorite!—which reimagines chicken galantina and stuffed with local sausages, seasoned ground pork, olives, pimento, and various herbs and spices.
Even their desserts are a combination of Western favorites and local flavors, like the sticky date pudding with warm brandy and muscovado sauce; the light and fluffy canonigo with dulce de leche, and fresh fruit pavolva calamansi curd and fresh seasonal fruits.
From the bar, My Country House offers two signature cocktails: the London Fog and Irish Coffee, which are reminiscent of the time the Wisniewskis lived in San Francisco, California where the family owned and operated a hotel and a restaurant named after Annabel’s mother. There are also must-try non-alcoholic beverages like Butterfly Iced Tea, Grapefruit Rosemary Soda, The Booster, Dragon Eye and cocktails like Mimosa In The Garden, Viva La Margarita, Si Sir, among others.
Martin shares, “With this dream project, our goal is to provide a respite, an escape just a quick drive from Metro Manila. We want people to feel at home when they visit, spend time, walk around, explore and just enjoy being together.”
My Country House is located at 115 Pulong Sagingan Street, Brgy. Maitim, 2nd West, Tagaytay City. The restaurant is open daily, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are highly encouraged via 0917 875 1154 (Viber) or call/SMS 0960 456 6873.. For regular updates, follow My Country House onFacebook andInstagram.