Persephone changes menus 3-4 times a year.
Finding your passion at a young age is rare. Not everyone has the focus to actually chase the dreams they once promised themselves, but when they do, the millennial gene of stubborn determination wins against all odds. This is what 24-year-old Jessie Roasa, owner of seasonal restaurant Persephone, has experienced.
Despite taking up BS Communications Technology Management in college, she’s been passionate about food for quite a while. She would host multiple dinner parties for her friends in college, but it never solidified as a possible career path until after graduation. From working in the kitchen, to operations, to purchasing, she said she had done it all. And that experience culminated to what Persephone is now. Growing up in Makati, she has seen many restaurants along Jupiter come and go. At that time, she told herself: “This is it, I have to open up here.”
Persephone opened early August in the middle of busy Jupiter Ave. in Makati. It looks a bit unsuspecting from the outside — housed under a gym and all — but as soon as you enter, you’re greeted by a wave of comfort. The floral mural, the warm lights, and Lorde blasting on the speakers are perfect for a quiet afternoon spent in solitary siesta. In many ways, the ambiance reflects the creativity seen in Persephone’s food.
Their fare is mainly inspired by Filipino, Japanese, and Korean cuisine, with the first menu developed with the help of her friend (and writer) Andre Orandain. But with a restaurant that aims to revamp their menu thrice or four times a year, anything can happen. “Every quarter we get to do a different theme or a different cuisine. (I do) whatever I feel the market is in need of right now. It’s not just limited to whatever the produce is. I’m also looking at more things we can try,” says Jessie.
One of the standouts is the bagnetsilog (pork belly, kimchi puree, pickled red radish, red cabbage, shimeji tempura, leeks, sexy poached egg, miso butter rice). You have your quintessential Filipino flavors of crisp pork and a whole lot of carbs, but hers is arranged bibimbap style. The miso glazed salmon (salmon cooked perfectly, dill butter, pickled red radish, baby carrots, and a side of edamame mash), and tokwa’t mackerel (salted mackerel, deep fried tofu, black beans, chili, spring onions, kangkong chips, shallot ponzu) can make any pescatarian gush in delight. No matter what she fires up in the kitchen always come out beautiful.
“There are a lot of reasons why I make my food colorful and it’s not just because I wanna make it look pretty. I also want to introduce vegetables to the staple Filipino diet. You immediately think about meat when that’s not necessarily the case. I want to be able to present (vegetables in a way) that’s appealing to the eyes,” she adds.
Another easy favorite is her cocktails list. You have your essentials: the old fashioned, aviation, and margarita, among others. Not only do these come out of the bar pretty, you can get pretty happy drunk with these too. Patrick Cuartero of Bevtools helped Jessie curate the drinks and gave the team a crash course on making cocktails. And with the service that they have, the conversations with the staff and Jessie herself will come pouring.
Despite Persephone’s changing menu, there’s something comforting about knowing that our old fave dishes will always have a chance to come back. It’s a good reminder of the changing tides and the crew behind the restaurant being in tune with what their customers need. Jessie has come a long way since her private dinner parties, and we’re pretty sure this is only the beginning for her.