Romulo Cafe & Restaurant brings to London a taste of the Philippines

Romulo is my very first Philippines restaurant which I have dined at which provides an abundance of Filipino food providing colour, flavour and that wow factor dish after dish.

I went along on a complimentary gifted basis courtesy of the owners who wanted to show me how delicious food from the Philippines is.

Romulo Cafe & Restaurant

Rowena Romulo and her partner Chris set up Romulo Cafe & Restaurant to bring diners a taste of the Philippines and a way to celebrate her grandfather Carlos Romulo bringing his generous spirit back to life, in their food and impeccable service.

All their menus are based on family recipes with Chef Jeremy Villanueva twist combining Philippine cuisine with a mix of Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American influences creating something Filipino from dishes such as Binagoongan Crispy Pata, Chicken Relleno, Beef and Seafood Kare-Kare, Pork adobo, pandesal, purple yam. All dishes are served in generous portions from sharing plates to smaller size platitos.

More about Rowena’s grandfather Carlos Romulo?

Carlos Romulo was the greatest ever statesman within the Philippines.

“Romulo QSC, CLH, NA (14 January 1898 – 15 December 1985) was a Filipino diplomat, statesman, soldier, journalist and author. He was a reporter at 16, a newspaper editor by the age of 20, and a publisher at 32. He was a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, a general in the US Army and the Philippine Army, university president, President of the UN General Assembly, was eventually named one of the Philippines’ National Artists in Literature, and was the recipient of many other honors and honorary degrees. He was born in Camiling, Tarlac and he studied at the Camiling Central Elementary School during his basic education.”

Extract from Wikipedia

Discover more about Romulo by reading further about him at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_P._Romulo

Dotted around the cafe & restaurant you can see man photos of Rowena grandfather meeting presidential people through to the pope as well as admiring some of the many medals he achieved in his life time.

A hidden Filipino gem set in Kensington

Stepping through the doors of a converted Georgian townhouse I was immediately hit by modern interiors, black and white wallpaper panels, and strong accents of lime green with historic photos and documents dotted around the walls featuring Rowena’s Pulitzer prize-winning grandfather, the late General Carlos P. Romulo, who was the influence for all of the family’s restaurants. All the interiors have all been refined by the design team an award-winning agency CADA Design (Fortnum & Mason, The Dorchester, The Shard).

The General’s Bar at Romulo Café & Restaurant provide thirsty diners premium Filipino spirits providing traditional and bespoke Cocktails, including the Old Fashioned Papa, made with Don Papa Rum, which is a premium rum derived from cane sugar from Negros plantations in the southern Philippines.

Set downstairs which they call the CPR Library you can enjoy privacy and tranquillity, and hold private parties, cocktails, meetings and receptions or for diners giving a cosy atmosphere. It comes equipped with a private bar and a few family mementos.

A culinary journey into the world of the Philippines

After gazing over the menu me and Joice we were a bit confused what to have as everything sounded amazing so Chris advised us which classic Philipping dishes he recommends from the Platitos range which our great tasting plates. Plus I wanted to try one of the Platos dishes so he kindly got the chef to make a smaller version for us to taste as we did not want a large portion as the Platos are usually ordered between groups.

Before our food exploration, we started the night off with a couple of Martini cocktails. Each cocktail looked stunning and tasted ever so delicious. The first Martini of the evening I enjoyed a Don Carlos Martini a take on a classic Espresso Martini. After my first sip, I just wanted another.

Also throughout the night I enjoyed a Mango Martini which was sweet and sharp and a Ube Lavender Martini which was very purple with subtle notes of lavender hitting the back of my throat. All looked beautiful.

Before the food arrived we enjoyed some freshly cooked Philippine bread which was lovely and fluffy.

The food was presented beautifully and all perfect. Each dish when it arrived at the table was so enticing and I just wanted to dig my fork into it.

My favourite was the Sizzling Chicken Inasal Sisig. It came to the table sizzling like crazy and every bite made my taste buds dance with joy as it was full of flavour as they use chicken thighs and is marinated in annatto, ginger, green chilli, garlic, and lemongrass.

The other dishes we enjoyed on the night was a bowl of Kalamansi Cured Tuna Ceviche. This was like a salad with tuna bits but the tuna was of excellent quality I just wish there was more tuna than salad though. The Kalamansi citrus sauce, was a delight though coating each leaf and tuna with a lovely zesty hit of flavour.

The Char Grilled Stuffed Squid looked beautiful and was cooked perfectly, not chewy at all. It was stuffed with tomato, cheese, onion, garlic and annatto oil all which was served on a bed of squid ink rice. With so many flavours and textures every mouth full was a sheer explosion of flavour.  

The Chilli King Prawns were sauteed in coconut milk and came with lobster coulis and served with Chinese cabbage and topped with green chillies. The prawns were large and very juicy and the coconut milk gave it that extra creaminess.

We also tried one of Romulo’s signature plates Platos which are recipes which have been passed down from one generation to the next throughout Rowena’s family.

So we opted for Tito Greg’s Beef & Oxtail Kare-Kare which is a British top brisket and oxtail which come with aubergine, bok choy and green beans all stewed in annatto and peanut sauce served with a sautéed shrimp paste on the side. The meat literally fell apart and the vegetables were delicate and soft. The annatto and peanut sauce gave the whole dish a tangy sweet flavour.

The most surprising dish for me though on the night was the bowl of Young Jackfruit & Coconut Soup. I have had Jackfruit on a few occasions and have never liked it but on this occasion I did. The Jackfruit flesh was juicy and it’s mixed with chilli and ginger stewed in a coconut cream with annatto oil gave it that extra flavour. 

Along with our dishes we enjoyed some Traditional Garlic Fried Rice which has a hint of garlic.

To end with we opted to try their desserts unfortunately they did not have the Fried Banana dessert I initially wanted so Chris recommended having the Sans Rival which is a traditional Filipino dessert made using dulce de leche buttercream, cashews and a chewy & sweet meringue. It was gorgeous so sugary, sweet and sticky.  The coconut ice cream which was served alongside was creamy and fresh cutting the sweetness from the Sans Rival.

My friend opted for the Ube Cheesecake made out of Yam which was a very deep purple and was topped with coconut and came with Yam ice cream as well.

Verdict

As I mentioned before I have never eaten Philippine food but I was not disappointed in fact it has made me want to try more Philippine food. I think I was surprised though to learn that not all was not that spicy in which I initially thought Philippine food was but to my surprise most of it is made using coconut cream or citrus. Now I wish that there was more Filipino restaurants across London. Go along treat your taste buds and belly explore dishes and flavours you might never have experienced before. 

Discover more and book

Romulo Café & Restaurant London,
343 Kensington High Street,
London W8 6NW

Lunch – Monday to Sunday from 12 noon to 3pm
Dinner – Monday to Sunday from 5pm to 10:30pm (last order at 9:45pm)

Click here to discover more or book or alternatively email reservations@romulocafe.co.uk .

Thank you to Rowena of Romulo for inviting me and allowing me to bring a plus one to enjoy a culinary journey of the Philippines.

Click below to be redirected to read the other write of the community member of Love Pop Ups London who joined me on the night. All our views are of our own honest opinion.

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