Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Romulo Cafe - A Restaurant Cum Museum


Have a Slice of History, a Bite of Relleno, and a Taste of Art at Romulo Cafe

by Trix Deseo
 Young Filipinos know Carlos P. Romulo as the diplomat who penned the famous “I am a Filipino” essay-- a required reading in the Elementary and High School curriculum. Others remember him as the small army general in the iconic picture of General Douglas MacArthur's return to the Leyte shores. To his former students and his literary fans, he's an unparalleled writer and editor. On the other hand, those working in the government and those well-versed in Philippine History look up to him as one of the country's notable people: an ambassador, a National Artist, a respected UN General Assembly President, and a loyal Presidential aide.

But only a few people know about General Romulo's lighter, more personable side. For instance, did you know that he was a foodie with a serious sweet tooth? He loved sweets so dearly, that he ate adobo alongside a fruit salad! In addition to that, he would also dip a piece of sugar cube in water every night for dessert.

Also unknown to many, General Romulo kept a stack of joke books among his collection. A witty man with a great sense of humor, he would throw jokes at his VIP friends. In public, everyone referred to him as “The General.” But to his dear friends, including Gene MacArthur, the wife of General Douglas MacArthur, he's simply the smart, kind, and funny “Romy.”

To highlight these and the rest of the untold anecdotes in the General's life, his grandchildren: Liana Romulo and Sandie Squillantini (along with her husband, Enzo), opened Romulo Cafe-- a restaurant cum museum of the late Carlos P. Romulo's slice of history and memorabilia.

Fashioned after 'Kasiyahan'-- General Romulo's house, Romulo Cafe aims to perpetuate his legacy, and at the same time, share to everyone this world-class gastronome's favorite dishes. Liana recalls his lolo, a very important foodie, as “a gourmet, who took me out to fancy dinners. And an eater of too much ice cream!” According to her, the General liked to dine out a lot. “He loved ice cream and barquillos but he also loved continental food. He loved going to the best restaurants in New York like Le Cirque. In the now closed Sign of the Dove restaurant, another of his favorite, they even had a dish named after him. An angel hair pasta, I think. It was very delicious,” Liana related.

In photo: Virginia Lllamas Romulo, the woman behind the recipes

The menu, as you may now have guessed, is comprised of heirloom recipes that are most memorable to the Romulo family. In this aspect, the grandchildren are paying homage to their grandmother: Virginia Lllamas Romulo. “In the Makati branch, we decided that we want to also pay homage to our grandmother so we put her photo here. This is mainly because she is the woman behind the man and our menu used her recipes. These were the recipes she served to foreign guests when she was in Washington DC,” Sandie explained. Her masterpiece? This Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno (P615 - half a chicken) pictured below.

Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno

Bright and festive, the Chicken Relleno is arguably the best relleno out there. Made out of slow roasted chicken, stuffed with ground pork, chorizo, raisins, and peas, Lola Virginia's relleno is the centerpiece of any occasion held at Romulo Cafe.

Another gustatory centerpiece to be considered is their Boneless Crispy Pata Binagoongan (P650).

A slight and welcome twist to Pinoys' favorite Crispy Pata, this boneless beauty, topped with eggplant and tomato bagoong sauce, saves you from the hassle of de-boning and sharing the pata. Order this with the bright orange and extra viscous Tito Greg's Kare Kare (P450) to turn your simple lunch or dinner into a fiesta.

Tito Greg's Kare Kare

You might also want to try their Crispy Squid (P200)-- a sweet, chicharon-like appetizer dipped in chili-honey-garlic glaze.

Crispy Squid

If you're hankering the crunch and taste of vegetables, do yourself a favor and get a bowl of Ginataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa (P180). It's so simple yet terrific because of its spot-on execution.

Ginataang Sigarilyas with Tinapa

If you've a serious sweet tooth like the General's, get the Suman sa Latik (P70). It's warm, sweet, and filling; it's bound to leave you full and happy.

Suman sa Latik

To complement the remarkable history and well-put food housed in Romulo Cafe, Liana and Sandie tapped their friends and business partners: the famous designer duo Ivy and Cecilia Almario to work on the interiors of Romulo Cafe. The result? An elegant marriage of chic and homey. A bright and beautiful space everyone would want to call 'home'.

“We wanted you to feel like you're entering the Romulo house. That's why we have couches, portraits, and other memorabilia. We have black and white interiors here in Romulo Cafe because the Kasiyahan's dining room was black and white. The tables are bigger than usual because we want families to dine here. We wanted to share with you, the dining culture of our family,” Sandie explained.

An absolute must-try for foreigners, balikbayans, and locals, 'Romulo Cafe' is equal parts patriotic, gastronomic, and artistic. Here, you can have a slice of history, take a bite of the metro's most splendid relleno, and experience the beauty of an artful home-- all at the same time.

Romulo Café is located along Scout Tuason St., South Triangle, Quezon City (reserve: 332-7273, 0915-662-3121) and at 48 Jupiter Street, Bel-air, Makati City (reserve: 822-0286, 478-6406).
Establishment Info
Romulo Cafe
Pomelo Salad, Green Mango Juice, Smoked Bangus Pate with Pandesal Chips, Monggo Soup, Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno and Tito Greg's Kare Kare,
P200 - P499

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