There are some restaurants that grow old with you, to the point that you don't have to look at the menu every time you go there, simply because you know it by heart. And there are some that you thought would grow old with you but there is that one fateful visit where you vaguely wonder, has their food retrogressed or was it your palate that has changed?
I remember the time I always go for The Old Spaghetti House whenever my family was debating about where to eat in Festival Mall. I distinctly recall digging their Aligue Pasta, albeit a dish I couldn't usually finish since it comes to a point of unpalatability when consumed too much. Curiously, it has been a long time since I last ate there, and it has been far too long since any of my family members suggested eating at that place. In retrospect, it wasn't so much a case of bad food as it was of just not being satisfied of or inspired by (if I may use the term) their fare.
Their Pan Grilled Glazed Chicken with Java Rice (P135) had some juicy pieces of chicken under a blanket of sweet barbecue sauce. A few greens slathered with vinaigrette was juxtaposed with the chicken, its acidulous dressing a stark contrast to the reddish brown sauce.
The Golden Crusted Chicken, Ham and Cheese Crepe (P145) is a small rectangular deep fried breading that houses a fillet of chicken, a slice of ham and a layer of cheese. The poultry was a bit dry and so was the porcine meat; the deep fryer must have sapped the juices out. I'm not sure what a couple of nachos were doing on the side, with diced tomatoes and onions strewn on top of the melted cheese. I tried dipping them in the salsa which thankfully wasn't too spicy.
When the US Beef Salpicao (P190) arrived at our table, I was surprised (read: fairly disappointed) that there were no garnishings on the plate. Still, straightforward as it is, the pieces of meat that crown the white rice were tender and sapid.
I like their Carbonara (P145) with bacon bits interwoven through the tangled, perfectly cooked noodles. Can't say it's the best I've eaten and it's more of your run-of-the-mill type, but I can't say it's bad either. I would have loved more garlic and butter on the slice of bread on the side though.
The Classic Lasagna (P165) was nice. The veneer of cheese with a dollop of meat sauce at the center provided shelter for the alternating layers of pasta and ground meat underneath. The sauce had the right mix of tomatoey and sweet; a fair dish for the price.
The Chicken and Mushroom Pasta (P150) was light and the combination of the mushroom and chicken was a bit one-dimensional in taste. Now this could work if only the sauce had been richer, thus favorable to devour. But the lack of savory trait from the white sauce left me hanging as there was nothing to counter the tame flavors.
Maybe it was something akin to a favorite toy you've outgrown. Maybe it was just a wrong choice of dishes that night. I couldn't actually put my finger on it... (a case of "It's not you, it's me"?) And people may not necessarily agree. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes, there are things that are better left to sweet memories than trying to shape them to what they no longer are, at least for you.
Then again, there are some things that you go back to and revisit even if not as often as before, just to see if it is capable to tug at your heartstrings and create a little spark worthy of a second chance.