The Fatted Calf’s  new beginnings

The Fatted Calf has a new home.


From its old, hard-to-find place in Silang, Cavite that opened in 2019, The Fatted Calf Farmhouse Kitchen is now in the scenic Tagaytay, home to a variety of great food.

Not known to many, Fatted Calf, helmed by the husband-and-wife tandem of chefs Jayjay and Rhea SyCip, had gone through a lot of challenges since its inception that eventually led to its closure early this year.

“We opened in July 2019 and officially closed in January 2023,” says Rhea. “But in between, we already closed four times because of the pandemic, Taal Volcano eruption and, lastly, our property lease was not renewed.”

However, as fate would have it, the last challenge was probably just a way for Fatted Calf to prepare for a big move.

“Last year, we thought it was the end of us,” Jayjay adds. “We didn’t know that Fatted Calf would have a rebirth, a new beginning.”

Thanks to Senator Loren Legarda, a fan of Fatted Calf farm-to-table dishes. Upon learning the imminent closure of the place, she offered her ancestral lot in Tagaytay to be the new location of the restaurant.

“It was a Sunday and Senator Legarda visited the restaurant,” Rhea recounts. “We don’t know her. She doesn’t know us. We told her we are closing the resto soon. She asked where we are moving to. We told her we are closing permanently. Then, she offered her space in Tagaytay and the rest is history. She’s our new landlord.”

Senator Legarda helped design the new Fatted Calf, which was built in just a few months.

“It was an answered prayer,” Rhea says. “Some people believe that we shouldn’t stop what we are doing because we are helping a lot of people. The food we serve here are actually from the farmers who, like us, were also struggling.”

“It’s a celebration of our food, a rebirth and a continuation that we thought would never happen again,” adds Jayjay.

Communal eating

Food always has a unique way of bringing people together. The Fatted Calf now embarks on an exciting new chapter in its culinary journey, and eager to welcome loyal patrons and curious newcomers alike to its new home in Tagaytay.

Rhea says the name Fatted Calf comes from the biblical parable of The Prodigal Son, where a father celebrates the return of his wayward son by slaughtering a fatted calf.

thick-cut Porkchop with apple sauce and corn ribs.

“It’s about family, a reunion, getting back together or communal eating. It’s about feast and celebration,” she explains.

From the original 14 staff, the restaurant has now 40. Fatted Calf sources its ingredients from local farms and markets. This is Jayjay and Rhea’s unwavering commitment to giving back to the community.
“Whatever is around us, we use,” Rhea says.

Old and new

As it makes a new home in Tagaytay, The Fatted Calf carries old favorites from its repertoire while also introducing a lavish array of new dishes to its menu. Each dish is a gastronomic and visual delight.

Smoked duck salad.

A good starter that will immediately draw you in is the bowl of Smoked Duck Salad with fresh locally grown greens. The local Pekin duck, which comes in velvety slices almost like a sashimi, is paired with Sakurab (scallions) kimchi, dried mango, Lucciole tatsoi and mizuna, all refreshingly dressed with a zingy Five Spice vinaigrette. The subtle smoky flavors of the meat meld exquisitely with the bite of the greens and the sugary hit of the mango.

Vegan glow salad.

There’s also a healthy choice of daily specials to boot. The Vegan Glow Salad offers a decent portion of crisp salad leaves with zucchini, asparagus, raisins, grapes, oranges, spiced-roasted squash and quinoa, and a well-made dressing of maple sesame black vinaigrette that is nicely balanced in flavor.

Another addition is the Vietnamese Shrimp Balls, which look like a Japanese Takoyaki. These morsels feature wild sea-caught shrimps paired with homemade fish floss. Creamy mayonnaise and tangy Tonkatsu sauce add layers of richness to every bite.

The light, fresh and thinly sliced Cured Fish showcases the artistry of flavors and textures. It’s a carefully cured cod with its tender, salty-sweet flesh bathed in creme fraiche (thickened sour cream) and a drizzle of aromatic Kaffir oil. The final touch of red radish adds a nice crunch and a vibrant color.

GALBI Bao. | Photographs courtesy of fatted calf

There’s also the Ranger’s Valley Australian Wagyu of the Galbi Bao. Taking a page from the East, the fluffy Galbi Bao has both bite and softness, and the umami depths that come from the Ssamjang sauce.

The Shrimp Spaghetti gets a hint of local flair with a generous sprinkling of brined kesong puti, infused with citrusy notes of fragrant kaffir leaves and karipatta (curry leaves).

Meat lovers are sure to be delighted with the 10-hour roasted local grass-fed Whole Leg of Beef, steeped with aromatic spices and herbs. Accompanied by a medley of roasted vegetables and complemented by a rich-tasting rum jus, the tender and juicy chunks of meat is truly an unforgettable treat.

More surprising offerings include the aromatic flavors of the Red Curry Beef Pot Roast, featuring locally sourced Batangas beef blended with coconut milk, tempered spices and homemade red curry paste. It’s loaded with hearty Benguet potatoes and silky eggplant.

The Fish and Chips is another classic dish, but this time, the chefs use hito or catfish as the main star. Delicate fillets are cloaked in a light and crispy Pilsner batter with golden potato wedges on the side.

Simple as this may sound, the experience is deep and strong. A drizzle of Chinese black vinegar lends a tangy and slightly sweet flavor profile while the velvety miso aioli offers a creamy and umami-rich dip.

Rhea, who declares it her mission to celebrate native ingredients through her desserts, has also created a stellar lineup of sweets.

The Mazapan de Pili Cheesecake is a creamy indulgence consisting of ​​pili from Naga, caramel, cream cheese, Alfonso free-range eggs with crunchy Anzac cookies as base. The Ubi Kinampay, layers of light sponge cake, is a seasonal offer that cannot be missed. The special purple yam from Panglao is harvested only once a year.

Ubi Kinampay, Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Brioche Doughnut.

“This restaurant is an avenue for people to appreciate not only the food but the ingredients. We don’t claim to be someone we are not. Whenever people ask us what kind of restaurant we are, Asian or European, we simply say, ‘Wala’ (none). We are an ingredient-based restaurant. Whatever is in season, whatever ingredient is available we use it. That’s how we define our food.”

Rhea gives us a rundown of where they get some of their ingredients for the restaurant — passionfruit from Amadeo, Cavite; butter from Indang, Cavite; eggs from Alfonso, Cavite; pili nuts from Naga, Camarines Sur; strawberries from Benguet, CAR; kinampay (purple yam), Panglao, Bohol; and tablea from Davao del Norte.

“We buy directly from farmers. This way, we could explore and play around with flavors,” Rhea shares.

Cool and breezy

Embracing the cool Tagaytay breeze, the bright and airy Fatted Calf has a total seating capacity of 150 including the lanai, veranda, private room and the garden. There are more comfy seats available in the sprawling backyard under the mango trees.

The main dining offers an understated elegance with light wood furniture amidst large windows and a high ceiling that gives off an ambience that’s casual and homey. Subtle details like the comfortable wooden chairs and hardwood tables and the strategic soft glow lighting from hanging rattan lamps from Cebu also add to the luxurious yet intimate ambience of the restaurant.

“Senator Loren actually designed the space using the old wood, the repurposed wood, the antiques,” Rhea shares.

The expanded space at the front entrance also allows for more comfort and ample parking space and easy accessibility from the main road.

The Fatted Calf is now located in Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay City. Reservations for breakfast, lunch and dinner are now accepted. Call 0977-6437477 or 0917-7892352 to reserve or send a direct message on Instagram @thefattedcalf_ph.