Saturday, 10 January 2015

Brunch at Baguio's Most Loved Restaurant

A last minute decision to make a side trip to Baguio on our way home to Manila from Ilocos found us  in Baguio's most loved restaurant for brunch. It's been years since we went up to Baguio, and despite the new restaurants popping up in the City of Pines, I wanted something familiar and comforting, like how Baguio is to me even after years of not visiting.

First we tried to find Star Cafe which to my memory was the best Chinese eatery in Baguio only to find out that it has closed.  Thankfully, my other favorite Baguio eatery, what many consider as Baguio's most loved restaurant,  is still standing tall. Like a serene and regal beacon  amidst the crazy commercial buzz that has overcome the once genteel Session Road.

Cafe By The Ruins is still as beautiful as ever.

                                 That bamboo canopy  at the al fresco dining area

                                Proudly Filipino interiors

Part of the experience of dining at Cafe By The Ruins is being surrounded by its old world Baguio charm --- wooden Filipino brickabracks everywhere,  capiz shell lights, dark wood furnitures in traditional Filipino designs.  There's even an igorot dap-ayan which can be used for small parties. A dap-ayan is a filipino version of gazebo,  made usually of wood and stone with thatched cogon grass for  the roof. Dap-ayan being the Ilocano term for gathering place.

It is this that I love about Cafe By The Ruins,  it is unapologetically Filipino in design and sensibilities yet it is not bold nor brash.  The tables, the bamboo canopies, those beautiful tea lights, and the native woven table mats,  these are the exact things I'd have if I were to build an airy bed and breakfast place in my hometown in Ilocos.  This is a place that allows you to dawdle. In the hours before lunch, it is less harried and people come here to have their coffee or hot chocolate, relish a breakfast fit for a queen, read a paper, catch up with friends, or doodle on theirs journal at a leisurely pace.

The Cafe is famous for its delicious breads. 

 The famous kamote bread is still as pillowy light as I remembered it and pairs perfectly with the country-style liver pate.

                               Soft and crusty jumbo pan de sal with artisanal jam and a flowerette of butter.  The pan de sal was huge! Almost the size of a hamburger bun.  It is a good pan de sal, not outstanding, but good enough.

 My plate of  Beef  Tapa with upland rice, egg with onions and tomato

                               My mother's Embutido with upland rice and roasted pineapple
                                 My cousin's Ilocos Longganisa with upland rice, sunny side up egg
Beef Stroganoff with pasta and garlic bread for my brother

The dishes served by Cafe by The Ruins are a mix of Filipino and continental comfort foods.  I, for one, love their breakfast plates.  What can be more comforting and more nourishing than a hefty plate filled with slabs of beef tapa, a generous serving of the local upland rice and eggs done the way I want it ---scrambled with caramelized onions and tomatoes.

The prices of the dishes are close to Manila prices,  with the breakfast plates averaging at PHP 340.00 each, but the servings are hefty with a complementary fruit bowl at the end of the meal. And the food, while not worth any Michelin stars or rave reviews,  are good and comforting.  And that's what Cafe by The Ruins promises to offer, a comfortable and authentic Baguio experience.

Cafe By The Ruins
23 Chuntug Street, Baguio City

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