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Inverted tabled setting, frames with weird items, cutlery for curtains…where am I?
Last Monday was my 25th birthday, it was a day like any other except it ended with a very nice surprise. A dinner party in Exile on Main Street, another one of Manila or Taft’s interesting stops that have no doubt made the place more interesting and alluring. In this small, unassuming restaurant, an interesting adventure of tastes, sights and sounds made the evening memorable. My first visit was one of entertaining guests I felt the need and Exile on  Main Street certainly warranted a second visit to truly enjoy the flavors of their food and enjoy the kitschy atmosphere of the restaurant.

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Unassuming but this door leads to something interesting
Situated along the street where 8065 Bagnet calls its home and well a little farther off, across the United Evangelical Mission Church is a small driveway that bears two signs: a review center and the second, Exile on Main Street. With the construction happening around it’s quite easy to miss it. But once you’ve found the driveway and the review center sign, you’re practically there. Entering this driveway, you will see a door with a tree painted on it, as if you were in playground. This door with the tree and some seats outside is Exile. For the uninitiated, like me, you would be wondering why such a restaurant such as this would be hidden from the world, then again this would most likely be its appeal.

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Calm and homey

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Whimsical, quirky, kitschy…take your pick
The exterior of Exile may look boring but like most interesting places, the interior always holds surprises that captivate and amuse its visitors. Even without knowing the interior just by reading the name of the restaurant would surely draw anyone in. If it doesn’t then spending time inside will surely help. With its whimsical furniture, an inverted table setup (stool, table, cutlery and the like), I knew that I was going to enjoy Exile. Small, relaxed and subdued, Exile is the perfect getaway from the restlessness that is Manila; with its whimsical furniture and spartan seating, it is more than enough to make you relax and forget the hustle and bustle of this thriving metro. More than that, the whimsical furniture on one side of the restaurant’s walls beg to be looked at, on the wall are little frames arranged in no particular order and the subjects of these picture frames are little toys and knickknacks. A very nice touch to the overall ambiance and atmosphere of Exile.

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Relaxing lights

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Their menu with interesting descriptions
After having thoroughly enjoyed the different items inside Exile it was time to sit down and peruse the menu before us. Before I describe my meal and how much I enjoyed it, I will just have this to add, Exile on Main Street’s food is affordable. Too affordable that for the food that I was getting, I felt like I was the one cheating them, then again to each his own. Going back, their menu consisted of the trifecta of food: pasta, fish and pork and then there’s dessert. On my first visit I had the delicious Baboy O’Riley with black vinegar and salsa, the dish was named after the famous song made popular by The Who and CSI: NY (as mentioned in their menu);  on my second visit I had the Torn and Frayed. The Baboy O’ Riley is a typical pork belly dish fried to golden brown perfection and paired with a very interesting black vinegar (most likely balsamic vinegar) sauce. Succulent and soft with just a right amount of spice and flavor that the black vinegar doesn’t overpower the dish, absolutely marvelous. On the other hand, their salsa was not so bad but was an odd addition to the dish.

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Torn and Frayed, a hearty meal (P150, half-order P85)
 On my second outing, I had the Torn and Frayed, a pulled pork dish with all the trappings of spices and herbs to make it practically comfort-home food. When the staff placed the meal on the table, it looked like the famous post-Christmas dinner/lunch after having had lechon the other day.  Yes, it looked like the perennial post-lechon dish I have come to be familiar with, lechon paksiw. However, that’s where the similarities of looks end, a spoonful on top of rice brought me home; the feeling of warmth and the tenderness of the pork mixed with all of these little spices here and there made for a very good meal. Torn and Frayed was filling and flavorful, it’s practically a sin to share it with somebody else; but of you’re not up for the whole dish they offer the same but at half the price and the size. But who want’s to do a half-order for this dish?

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Supporting local initiatives
After having thoroughly enjoyed and delighted myself with Exile on Main Street’s food, I am glad that besides 8065 Bagnet, there is another affordable restaurant just across the street. The atmosphere is interesting and calm, the food is affordable but the biggest draw for me was the fact that this restaurant is situated away from the noise of Manila; truly an exile on the main street.

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Take a break, have a rest and enjoy the food and company of friends
Exile on Main Street can be found at Unit 2 +2428 Leon Guinto Street. Barangay 727, Malate, Manila. 
They are open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm. 
You may contact them via email here.
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