Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cafe de Bonifacio: A Revolutionary Filipino Cuisine

There is a new restaurant that some blogger friends and I tried a few days ago -- Cafe de Bonifacio, located at the Podium.

Taking inspiration from their youthful days of activism, two friends (one with Molave and the other with Kabataang Makabayan) put up Cafe de Bonifacio. The restaurant's logo sports a sun which is very similar to the one found on Andres Bonifacio's personal flag. And several of its signature dishes bear names from the Katipunan era.

Initially I thought that their cuisine was an Asian fusion, much like some other restos I've tried. But Alfredo Wenceslao, Managing Director of Cafe de Bonifacio, corrected us and said it's basically a Filipino cuisine with a 'revolutionary' twist. He introduced us to the chef whose specialty is Roti (and you will find lots of Roti dishes, both in the main dish list and dessert) and the chef told us they scouted around for the different spices that would give a different take on each of the Filipino dishes.

Alfredo Wenceslao (right) with Cafe de Bonifacio's chef

Juned was already there when I arrived but the others were still stuck in traffic so to while away the time, I ordered a unique beverage called Mango and Basil Cooler, a fusion of green mangoes and fresh basil leaves. I did not really know how basil leaves, added to a fresh fruit drink, would taste but it sounded healthy so I went for it. Surprisingly, my palate liked the basil touch to the drink and it's just a perfect summer-y drink.

Mango and Basil Cooler (PhP 95)

Here are the dishes our tummies went through that night.

Ensaladang Talong was a smokey eggplant tossed in with other fresh veggies and mixed with a special vinaigrette dressing. A slice of salted egg added a touch on top.

Ensaladang Talong (PhP 140)

Lumpiang Hubad in Pastry Shells (PhP 110)

One of my favorites is the Lumpiang Hubad in Pastry Shells. If you like lumpia, you have to try this. The stir-fried veggies are mixed with a special chef's sauce which I really liked and plated in pastry shells which added that nice crunchy ooomph. The wafer-thin pastry shells were actually very tasty.

Crispy Pata ni Ka Ojie (PhP 618)

I did not try the Crispy Pata ni Ka Ojie as I have stopped eating crispy pata already but this dish is good for 3 people. It's pork knuckles poached in herb basting until tender, air dried and deep fried to a crisp. The dish is served with stir fried kangkong and sauce.

Vigan Longganisa Linguini Pasta (PhP 240)

The Vigan Longganisa Linguini Pasta was good. The pasta was al dente with the fettucine sauteed in olive oil-based chunky Vigan longganisa.

Sisig ala Rebolusyonaryo (PhP175)

Sisig ala Rebolusyonaryo consists of chunky, grilled and minced pork belly sauteed in an assortment of herbs and spices with a squeeze of calamansi juice.

Kare-Kare (We only got a sample; the full order is PhP 349)

Kare-Kare, while one of my favorite dishes, was something I had to learn to skip after I developed kidney stones because I had to avoid the bagoong (and what is kare-kare without bagoong?). Too bad because their kare-kare really looked yummy.

Butterflied Tilapia in Tamarind Sauce (PhP 299)

One look at the Butterflied Tilapia in Tamarind Sauce and you immediately notice its presentation. The tilapia was not flat on the plate; rather, it appeared to stand on its side, almost in swimming form. The chef described to us how the fish had to be cut at an angle and opened up in such a way that when deep fried, it would take this form. A mildly spiced tamarind sauce went nicely with it.

Herb Crusted Pork Belly ala Alfredo (PhP 290)

I loved the Herb Crusted Pork Belly ala Alfredo which was tender and tasty. It's made up of slices of pork belly marinated in fruit extracts, crusted in herbs and oven-roasted.

Sinigang na Tadyang ng Baka (PhP 370)

Herbed Oyster in Crispy Egg Wrapper
with Special Chef Sauce (PhP 225)
The secret is in the chef's sauce when it comes to the Herbed Oyster in Crispy Egg Wrapper. The herbed oyster is wrapped in wanton wrapper and deep fried. I can't tell what is in the sweet sauce but this dish is worth a try again.

Chicken Adobo (Roti) (PhP150)

Yummy Chicken Adobo (Roti) was something I tried for the first time and liked. The savory unleavened flat bread is used to 'sandwich' the adobo flakes filling. The sauce is a combination of sweet soy sauce with a hint of black vinegar and sesame oil.

Macapuno-Ube Roti (PhP 135)

Another way to eat roti, this time as a dessert! The Macapuno-Ube Roti had macapuno and ube slivers inside the roti with peanuts as topping and drizzled with a caramelized syrup.

Turon de Gregoria (PhP 140)

I love turon. I love ice cream. And the way this dish puts those two together is just magic! Caramelized bananas are plated ala napoleon style, one on top of the other, and drizzled with caramelized palm sugar. A scoop of ice cream is served alongside the dish and also drizzled with the caramelized palm sugar. I enjoyed the crisp turon wrapper not wrapped around the bananas but instead, served up like  plates with slices of bananas on top. This is a must for me on my next visit!

I came away that evening very full and very satisfied. Next time you're at the Podium, drop by Cafe de Bonifacio. I'm sure you'll have favorites you'll want to try but expect the twist and turns. They'll surprise you as they did me.

One more thing: They deliver!!! 

Cafe de Bonifacio
Level 5, The Podium
18 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City
For delivery, call tel. (02) 654-7777

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