In 2013, Louie and I celebrated Valentine’s Day in Lola Café. Seeing our old photos together gave me a chuckle. It’s been over two and a half years. So many things have changed since that day, and Lola Cafe’s menu recently did too. 😉 With Chef Jon Mangibin now taking lead in the kitchen, this restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City goes through a “culinary fixture.” The placement of furniture and fixtures also moved around a bit, making the place more versatile for both groups of friends or family and romantic dates.
With its fresh menu, Lola Café+Bar decided to focus in serving Filipino Food 2.0 which basically consists of creative riffs on Filipino food classics like chicken tinola, bagoong rice, beef salpicao, sisig, and the like. We had lunch here with the KTG last Saturday to taste its mouth-watering delights and experience gastronomic euphoria, thanks to Richie‘s invitation. 🙂 Target launch date of the new items is on November 23, 2015.
Lola Café Launches New Menu (Tomas Morato, Quezon City)
There may be many excellent dishes for you to dive into on the menu. Quite frankly, there are no wrong answers, but the Wagyu Salpicao (PhP 320) might be more right than the rest. With roasted garlic in olive oil, the Kitayama wagyu beef (raised locally in Bukidnon, Philippines) was boldly flavored and actually portioned to share. The softness of the wagyu beef is exactly like you would hope it is. Get into the fiesta spirit and match it with a great glass of wine.
The Bone Marrow Sisig (PhP 275) was a complete stunner. There’s something about the fatty and buttery bone marrow with kamias jam and garlic crumble flat bread on the side that got it done for us. Each component was strong on its own and equally good smashed together on the plate.
Soup and Salad
Caesar Salad is one of the trendiest salad choices these days, especially for those who are on a diet. If you think salads are boring though, know that serving it in a more exciting and palatable way is possible. How? Grilled. Smoky and with a touch of crunch, hearty Romaine lettuce and bread crisps with bagoong dressing were delightful. Bacon strips mixed in made the Grilled Caesar Salad (PhP 290) a killer dish you would want to nestle alongside your mains.
The Alugbati and Kesong Puti Salad (PhP 310) had a good combination of flavors and textures, featuring charred alugbati, lettuce hearts, roasted carrots, beets and balsamic vinaigrette. As salads go, it sounds pretty decadent—and delicious. I think kesong puti was what brought in new life to the salad; it added a little bit of both saltiness and creaminess to every bite.
Lola Café took no shortcut to deliver a comforting and tasty bowl of Bacon Belly Batchoy (PhP 320). Topped with soft boiled egg, this noodle soup was not just a vehicle for braised bacon slabs and ox tripe, but it was also a celebration of the role of sweet garlic, which for a garlic fan is pretty much heaven.
Pasta and Rice Bowl
The Spicy Tinapa Pasta (PhP 215) had a subtle, oceany richness that’s captivating. It was salty from the smoked fish flakes, luscious and sweet from the fresh heirloom tomatoes, spicy from the dried chili, and quite intoxicating from the scent of the olive oil.
Among the items we tried so far, the Sweet Pork and Bagoong Rice (PhP 295) could be one that’s most recommendable to foreigners who would want to appreciate Filipino food in their first visit here. Made with salted dried shrimp “hibe,” roasted pork belly, and “burong” mangga, the entire dish was slightly overwhelming all at once. It was so wonderfully complex that you just have to surrender to its demands.
Quarter Chicken Confit and Tinola Rice (PhP 280) was another crowd-pleaser. With ginger confit chicken, lemongrass rice pilaf, charred green papaya, and scallion-anchovy vinaigrette, Lola Cafe has constructed a hearty, full-flavored Filipino main dish whose ingredients both harmonize and perform as soloists. The chicken was really tender and I loved that the taste of the ginger and onion-based tinola was evident.
Swimming in porcin broth, garlic cream and wild mushrooms, the thinly sliced and slow-braised Truffled Lengua (PhP 495) came out soft, rich, and almost pâté-like. Until now though, lengua (beef tongue) is one of the internal meat organs that I like eating the least because I think it’s formidable. It’s not for the faint of foodie heart but best for the adventurous palate.
Somewhat like Bicol Express, the Gising Express (PhP 140) or “Gising-Gising” was cooked with coconut milk broth, homemade bagoong, sigarilyas (winged beans), French beans, and finger chili. It’s great to be paired with steamed white rice to temper the heat situation.
The Roasted Belly “Tocino” (PhP 490) gave off an oriental taste (think Chinese char siu, as in the regular siopao filling), most probably because of the SSAM-anise glaze. Adding more depth, the salty burong mangga or “pickled mangoes” on the side complemented the savory aspect of the slow-cooked pork liempo nicely.
For desserts, we had Baguio Strawberries and Cream Pavlova. It was amazing how the nest remained crisp, light, and crumbly right before we dug in. The billows of whipped cream and juicy fresh strawberries on top were truly delectable. This item is definitely my kind of dessert.
Set in a landmark location in Tomas Morato, Lola Café+Bar boasts a fine ambiance and gracious service to match. There’s more à la carte selections available on the menu than these ones featured in this blog post, so if you want creative, zesty Filipino food or just local comfort food with a flair, go to Lola Café+Bar and make no doubt about it. It’s now open for lunch and dinner! 🙂