Food Trip: Romulo’s

It should be obvious by now that I love to eat and I love Filipino food (of course! Love your own, right?). So when we were figuring out where to have dinner after a long day of meetings, I immediately voted for Romulo’s Cafe, over at Jupiter St., where Dencio’s used to be.
And based on the nice spread we had that night, I’d say it was a good vote.  

The place itself deserves kudos. In fact, one word I can think of to describe it is classy. Muted tones of black, white, and taupe greeted us when we entered the place, with black and white and sepia-print photos of Romulo hanging on the walls. 

Plus I really appreciated the high-ceiling and the general subdued atmosphere of the place. Noisy patrons are obviously not welcome here.
Loved the stencil-like patterns of the wallpaper and the refreshing jolt of color, courtesy of green potted plants which served as table tops.

The garden outside follows the same color scheme of the interiors, and I can imagine how romantic a dinner for two could be in that place.

The place has a second floor, although we didn’t venture anymore since a) we were hungry and b) we were just plain shy to ogle the place. Yes, I can be shy at times too. Hahaha!

Now, onto the food (sorry for the very long intro – it was my first time at Romulo’s and I really liked the place). Since we were a big group, we ordered quite a number of dishes – all the better for us too, so we can taste as many as possible. Hahaha.

Lola Virginia’s Chicken Relleno

The chicken relleno, was just ok. I am not a fan of relleno to begin with, but this one didn’t grind the chicken much – there were still whole chicken meat as far as I can tell, but the taste was nothing spectacular. Quite a big serving though and although I think it’s the most expensive chicken dish on the menu, the Php615 price tag was just right. But I don’t think I will order this if ever I come back to this place.
Boneless crispy pata

One dish I enjoyed was their crispy pata. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with crispy pata but I loved how they put the sauce right on top and grilled eggplants on the side. It’s nothing spectacular but the combination of textures was well played out (if you’re going to eat the pork and the side dish together anyway) and the presentation was nice.
Beef Caldereta with Cheese

Things started to perk up for me when I tasted the caldereta. I am a sucker for cheese (I can even eat an entire bar of cheddar cheese in one sitting) and I would just die when I eat dishes served with cheese. Plus, the meat was very tender and the sauce was just the right amount of spicy, salty and tangy. This one is something I would gladly order next time.
Moving on to the vegetable dishes – of which we had two – well, I can’t really say much. Again, I am not an avid fan of vegetables and I can barely tell which is which. I liked the laing although I have to say that I have tasted better.
Gising Gising

Laing with Adobo Flakes

Tito Greg’s Kare Kare

The kare-kare, was another low-performing dish for me. I didn’t really like the thick consistency of the sauce and I keep looking for a peanut aftertaste which I didn’t get. I’ve tasted better at some of our family reunions. And I somehow feel it was overpriced given that I didn’t see much meat.
Well, obviously this is rice. 😛

Crispy Hito

The clear winner for me, and upon survey of our group, was actually the unassuming hito. I mean, usually, hito tastes fishy but this one managed to be tasty without being fishy (I can’t believe I am rhyming in this post) and I loved the two kinds of sauces – a sour shrimp paste and the usual soy sauce with calamansi (or was it onion). Looking back, I find it rather ironic that the simplest dish became the biggest hit; I am quite torn whether that bodes well or not for the place.

And now dessert. Romulo’s has a wide cake selection as displayed on their cake bar but to be safe, we had the dome cake and mango tango plus the crispy suman and leche flan.
Lots of cake

Dome Cake

Crispy Suman sa Latik

Leche Flan

Mango Tango

Of the four, I am undecided between the dome cake and the crispy suman. I liked the dome cake because it wasn’t too sweet and it melted in my mouth but I liked the suman because I don’t like suman (rice cakes) in general, but I was able to finish off mine so that’s saying something. The suman wasn’t too sticky sweet, which has always been my complaint against its kind, and the syrup at the bottom of the “shot” glass containing the suman was a perfect foil to the sweet/salty suman. And the presentation didn’t hurt, either.

The mango cake was forgettable. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it. And the leche flan was…different. It tasted like orange flavouring was spilled onto the leche flan mixture and it kind of put me off. All could think of was, where’s the leche in the flan? Plus, at Php 85, it was outrageously overpriced. And for me, one of the best leche flans would still have to be our friend Carli’s and this one didn’t even come close.

The Service
I usually don’t make much fuss on service or devote a section of my post to it but I was rather disturbed when I learned that the waiters got reprimanded just a few minutes before I got there, in full view of the patrons. Can’t it be done in the privacy of one’s office? And while I know the place was jampacked, I couldn’t help but notice that all their waiters seemed too hurried, like someone was always chasing them. 
Anyway, the server assigned to our table was nice enough so I really shouldn’t complain. 
The Verdict
Honestly, I think the place is over-hyped on the blogosphere. I loved the place (literally), what with its sleek design reminding me of a museum. But the food was nothing to rave about. There were some hits (I am salivating just thinking of the hito) but overall, the food was just average. And coming from a family with great cooks, average just won’t cut it. Price is okay though, in the same range as what you would spend in other restos in the metro.
Will I come back? Yes. I would love to explore their menu. Who knows? I might find another gem somewhere on their menu,

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