Foodie Friday: Fine Filipino Cuisine at Romulo Café

First Friday of the month:  Food / Dining

I just love the ultra chic interior design and color palette of this corner restaurant called Romulo Café.  More importantly, the fine Filipino dishes they serve are worth raving about!
Semi-al fresco dining

Over a month ago, my sister-in-law celebrated her birthday and treated the family to this swanky dining establishment in the heart of Quezon City.  This was my first time here so I was looking forward to a wonderful meal especially after hearing a lot of good reviews since last year. We had the misfortune of being seated on that table up top, where the noon time sun hits our backs midway through our hearty lunch. Reservations were made a day earlier so if this is any indication, should you wish to dine here, better call days in advance to have indoor dining comfort.  It was a full house at Romulo Café that Sunday.  They serve authentic Filipino cuisine with a twist, none of those Asian fusion dishes here.

Elegant black and white setting
Entrance lounge area
I was not able to browse long enough through the menu since it's my brother's treat and he did all the ordering.  My family was there to simply relax and savor the meal that was served. And that we did! (Of course the blogger-pathological picture-taker in me did not pass up the chance at stealing food shots before the plates were swiped!)

Now here's a rundown of the dishes as they came (and went...really fast, heehee)...
May I remind you that I was unable to get the actual names and descriptions of these dishes and will just share with you how I remember them.

Appetizer Baby pusit (squid) -- anything with garlic is a winner for me. Squid al ajillo is how I would describe this super yummy (small) plate of 'squidlets' :-)  I was lucky to even take a shot at this before the last two scoops! One serving is not enough. I'd be happy with just this and a cup of rice! Highly recommended.
Baby Pusit
This vegetable is not for everyone. Ginataang Sigarilyas (winged bean cooked in coconut milk). I discovered slivers of tinapa (smoked fish) as I ate it. That was the twist and it complemented the veggie. I'm sure this would appear and taste foreign to most. I really don't know how to describe the taste except that there's crunch and a slightly rough texture which is unique to this beans. And the smoked fish added another dimension to the taste. I occasionally prepare this dish at home with the same mix, but I put in minced meat rather than smoked fish. It's worth a try, something different.
Ginataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa
Any self-respecting Filipino restaurant will not be caught without their version of this all-time favorite Kare-Kare (ox tail and tripe in peanut sauce). Undoubtedly a bestseller. Kare-kare is always served with bagoong (shrimp paste) on the side. Romulo's take on this classic dish is most flavorful even without the bagoong. I just found their sauce to be too thick and paste-y for my taste. The vegetables, which should be firm and crisp, were kinda soggy. Delectable nonetheless!
Another favorite, and ever present in most Pinoy celebrations, the Crispy Pata (deep fried pork leg and knuckles) was reinvented -- binagoongan (topped with sautéed tomatoes and shrimp paste) style.  Since I didn't know what food were ordered, I just ate everything with gusto, and simply guessed what they are.  This one, unfortunately, got me confused.  Don't get wrong, this dish was a winner too, but the binagoongan aspect just did not hit me at first bite. And I prefer my crispy pata to be crispy and dry all the way. I thought this was like pata with an arrabiata sauce topping! Maybe they just went easy on the shrimp paste so the crispy pork leg would shine. The eggplant on the side did nothing for me. I was already happy with the pork. :-)
Binagoongan Crispy Pata
There should always be fish on our table. And this was something new for all of us. I guessed correctly that this was pinangat na isda (fished boiled/poached in a sour fruit base, usually in calamansi/Philippine lemon). The fish ordered was a pangat na samaral (rabbit fish) cooked whole with green mangoes! It's succulent, light, and tasty.  Though I still prefer calamansi for any pangat dish as it gives a deeper tangy-sweet-sour flavor to the fish. A good, healthy alternative to your usual fish fares.
Samaral Pangat sa Mangga
A perfectly refreshing drink, Cucumber Cooler is a 'mocktail' with a unique blend of cucumber, lime juice and crushed mint leaves! I really loved this drink! Cheers!
Cucumber Cooler

It's at special occasions like this that we get to celebrate and discover new dining places and exciting dishes, or go to our old favorites to relish a good and satisfying meal as a family. Romulo Café is one such dining place that excites and creates memorable Pinoy specialties amidst a chic yet cozy ambiance, a place rich in history.
Full, cool, happy cousins!

Romulo Café
# 32 Sct. Lazcano cor. Sct. Tuason
Quezon City, Philippines
Phone: (632) 332-7275

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