Romulo Cafe - "Cafe Juanita" by Day, "Establishment" by Night.
Finally, Romulo Cafe is THE Filipino restaurant to rave about in the T.Morato / Quezon City area. The Carlos P. Romulo heritage restaurant concept is unique and refreshing. It is set in a rented house off the T. Morato area where you have to find your way by either passing through Scout Tuason or Scout Dr. Lazcano streets. This restaurant is a brainchild of one of Carlos P. Romulo's grand daughter -- Sandie Squillantini.
It serves Filipino food like Tito Greg's Kare Kare that could rival Cafe Juanita. There are a lot of name dropping in the menu to acknowledge the source of the recipes and most of the Filipino dishes are familiar but served with a pleasant twist. The food is Filipino taken to the next level -- it is not fusion which is a bit baduy concept already in the Foodie circles. It is homey during the day time, but it transforms to "The Establishment" at night where you have to dress-up, drink cocktails first before eating dinner.
I love the restaurant, however, one of the two restaurants (Botong's restobar in Avenue and Cucina Gayuma in Granada) that I know who used black uniform for their waiters is now closed. I don't want to believe my father-in-law when he said that black uniforms for waiters are malas in Chinese because it is like a death clothes. Some people argue that the black uniform matches the decor and ambiance -- but even The Establishment uses white chef uniforms for their waiters.
The main dining hall above is quite small which can only accommodate 12 tables.
I actually like the bits and pieces of salted egg contrasting with the sweet strawberry sauce and juiciness of the pomelo. This is a popular starter in Romulo Cafe.
Romulo Cafe serves shakes and cocktail drinks which are very affordable at P60 to P150.
Try out their Mocktails like the ones they have in The Establishment. We actually like the Cool as a Cucumber mocktail which taste like Mojito without the alcohol and you can eat the cucumber pa.
The pate was very smooth and there's no "fishy" taste. The 7 slices of pandesal chips are not enough and you'll always end up ordering another serving. Aidan and Joshua love this specially the Hollandaise topping!
This Monggo is really done well with generous Chicharon bits served in a big bowl good for 4-5 persons. It has a lot of soup which I prefer rather than the ones that have a thicker consistency.
First, we ordered a 1 whole General's Chicken for P470 which is a baked chicken rubbed with special herbs and smothered with garlic. When we saw the Chicken Relleno served in the next table, our eyes were seduced by the presentation of the chicken that we had to change our order. The waiters would often upsell you to this most expensive chicken dish in the menu.
The serving size is great and it is good to share to 5-8 people. The taste was just OK -- we were not blown away with it. I would order Chicken with Tamarind sauce which is also a 1/2 chicken but only for P220 next time.
This Kare Kare is the best one I've tasted so far. I like the strong color and smooth silky consistency of Tito Greg's version. It is bland but creamy and the bagoong complements it very well. The bagoong is sweeter first then turns into salty taste with a kick of spice.
This dish made our visit worthwhile driving all the way from the Fort area. Overall, the food in Romulo Cafe, not something to die for but something to proclaim specially to foreigners and balikbayans looking out for Filipino food.
No doubt, this will be a popular place in the Christmas season.
If you are going here on a date, I would highly recommend to read this civilian World War II account on the Japanese Occupation in Manila called Dear Mother Putnam. You'll get "pogi" points for knowing a little bit about Carlos P. Romulo's role in Philippine history during WWII. (It wouldn't hurt also just to google his name before eating in this restaurant)
This is the green hall bar area. I love the ambiance and interiors except for the cheap tables that wiggles unevenly and easily moves with the slightest bump. It also uses very unsafe chairs where my son Aidan fell down twice because it is so light and cheap that it turns over easily.
Carlos P. Romulo became the first Asian to win the Pulitzer Prize in Correspondence in 1942. One of his Obra Maestra is this beautiful piece called "I am a Filipino" which is prominently displayed on your way to the second floor function rooms in Romulo Cafe.
I AM A FILIPINO
by Carlos P. Romulo
I am a Filipino - inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future. As such I must prove equal to a two-fold task- the task of meeting my responsibility to the past, and the task of performing my obligation to the future. I sprung from a hardy race - child of many generations removed of ancient Malayan pioneers. Across the centuries, the memory comes rushing back to me: of brown-skinned men putting out to sea in ships that were as frail as their hearts were stout. Over the sea I see them come, borne upon the billowing wave and the whistling wind, carried upon the mighty swell of hope- hope in the free abundance of new land that was to be their home and their children's forever.
This is the land they sought and found. Every inch of shore that their eyes first set upon, every hill and mountain that beckoned to them with a green and purple invitation, every mile of rolling plain that their view encompassed, every river and lake that promise a plentiful living and the fruitfulness of commerce, is a hollowed spot to me.
By the strength of their hearts and hands, by every right of law, human and divine, this land and all the appurtenances thereof - the black and fertile soil, the seas and lakes and rivers teeming with fish, the forests with their inexhaustible wealth in wild life and timber, the mountains with their bowels swollen with minerals - the whole of this rich and happy land has been, for centuries without number, the land of my fathers. This land I received in trust from them and in trust will pass it to my children, and so on until the world no more.
I am a Filipino. In my blood runs the immortal seed of heroes - seed that flowered down the centuries in deeds of courage and defiance. In my veins yet pulses the same hot blood that sent Lapulapu to battle against the alien foe that drove Diego Silang and Dagohoy into rebellion against the foreign oppressor.
That seed is immortal. It is the self-same seed that flowered in the heart of Jose Rizal that morning in Bagumbayan when a volley of shots put an end to all that was mortal of him and made his spirit deathless forever; the same that flowered in the hearts of Bonifacio in Balintawak, of Gergorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass, of Antonio Luna at Calumpit; that bloomed in flowers of frustration in the sad heart of Emilio Aguinaldo at Palanan, and yet burst fourth royally again in the proud heart of Manuel L. Quezon when he stood at last on the threshold of ancient Malacañang Palace, in the symbolic act of possession and racial vindication.
The seed I bear within me is an immortal seed. It is the mark of my manhood, the symbol of dignity as a human being. Like the seeds that were once buried in the tomb of Tutankhamen many thousand years ago, it shall grow and flower and bear fruit again. It is the insigne of my race, and my generation is but a stage in the unending search of my people for freedom and happiness.
I am a Filipino, child of the marriage of the East and the West. The East, with its languor and mysticism, its passivity and endurance, was my mother, and my sire was the West that came thundering across the seas with the Cross and Sword and the Machine. I am of the East, an eager participant in its struggles for liberation from the imperialist yoke. But I also know that the East must awake from its centuried sleep, shape of the lethargy that has bound his limbs, and start moving where destiny awaits.
For, I, too, am of the West, and the vigorous peoples of the West have destroyed forever the peace and quiet that once were ours. I can no longer live, being apart from those world now trembles to the roar of bomb and cannon shot. For no man and no nation is an island, but a part of the main, there is no longer any East and West - only individuals and nations making those momentous choices that are hinges upon which history resolves.
At the vanguard of progress in this part of the world I stand - a forlorn figure in the eyes of some, but not one defeated and lost. For through the thick, interlacing branches of habit and custom above me I have seen the light of the sun, and I know that it is good. I have seen the light of justice and equality and freedom and my heart has been lifted by the vision of democracy, and I shall not rest until my land and my people shall have been blessed by these, beyond the power of any man or nation to subvert or destroy.
I am a Filipino, and this is my inheritance. What pledge shall I give that I may prove worthy of my inheritance? I shall give the pledge that has come ringing down the corridors of the centuries, and it shall be compounded of the joyous cries of my Malayan forebears when they first saw the contours of this land loom before their eyes, of the battle cries that have resounded in every field of combat from Mactan to Tirad pass, of the voices of my people when they sing:
Land of the Morning,Child of the sun returning…Ne'er shall invadersTrample thy sacred shore.
Out of the lush green of these seven thousand isles, out of the heartstrings of sixteen million people all vibrating to one song, I shall weave the mighty fabric of my pledge. Out of the songs of the farmers at sunrise when they go to labor in the fields; out of the sweat of the hard-bitten pioneers in Mal-ig and Koronadal; out of the silent endurance of stevedores at the piers and the ominous grumbling of peasants Pampanga; out of the first cries of babies newly born and the lullabies that mothers sing; out of the crashing of gears and the whine of turbines in the factories; out of the crunch of ploughs upturning the earth; out of the limitless patience of teachers in the classrooms and doctors in the clinics; out of the tramp of soldiers marching, I shall make the pattern of my pledge:
"I am a Filipino born of freedom and I shall not rest until freedom shall have been added unto my inheritance - for myself and my children's children - forever."
If you are a group of 6-8 people, I would suggest that you already reserve the function room for a more private dining affair. You can hang out in the bar / cocktail area first before every one from your group arrives. When everybody is ready, you can go up to the Kaligayahan room for dinner.
The Kapayapaan room is a bit smaller and I don't like the bench chairs and Carlos P. Romulo looking over your shoulders -- a bit creepy for me.
This is my room! Perfect for a small birthday party with friends. This is more spacious and good for a party of 10 people. A great place to hangout too with friends -- I do hope the walls have sound proofing :)
Overall, WE love it! Goodbye to the lousy Filipino restaurants in Tomas Morato :) Quezon City people deserves the best food and thanks to Santie and partners for taking the restaurant scene to the next level in the T. Morato area.
32 Scout Tuason corner Dr. Lazcano
Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Telephone: +632 332-7275 (Don't forget to reserve!)
Owner: Sandie Squillantini,
Grand Daughter of Carlos P. Romulo
Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627)
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P.S. Thanks to Jan for the tip!