Romulo Café goes off-menu

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A FAVORITE Filipino restaurant of many, Romulo Café is introducing family- and friend-favorites as part of its off-menu buffet choices.

Among the dishes now available for small orders is Lola Virginia’s Chicken Relleno — an original recipe from statesman Carlos P. Romulo’s wife Virginia Llamas — a roast chicken stuffed with ground pork, raisins, chorizo, and peas.

“It’s one of my grandmother’s specialties,” said Sandie Romulo-Squillantini, the restaurant’s owner and granddaughter of the Romulo couple.

She said her grandparents usually served their guests special food, including the chicken relleno.

“People are saying why don’t you serve it as special? If you want to order it, yes, you can. The US Angus bistek (beef steak), the cochinillo (roast suckling pig), the relleno (stuffed chicken), ginataang laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk), the pako (fern) salad in the buffet [right now], they’re all off-the-menu,” said Ms. Squillantini during a media tasting on Oct. 10.

Romulo Café is offering those dishes and more as special buffet food for functions that cater to 20-30 people.

The off-menu choices include everything from appetizers to desserts.

For starters, there is crispy squid coated in a chili-honey-garlic glaze; a chorizo empanada (pasty); and tinapa (smoked fish) roll with red egg and tomatoes in a lumpia (spring roll) wrapper.

There’s also the shrimp pasta with generous servings of aligue (crab roe) in the sauce. The spaghettini has sautéed shrimps in garlic and olive oil.

For the main courses, besides the beloved chicken relleno, there are cochinillo, ginataang langka (jackfruit cooked in coconut milk), and pesang apahap which is a fish stew made with barramundi.

To end the meal and to seal the deal are mango pavlova, a meringue-based dessert, and suman sa latik (glutinous rice with caramelized coconut cream) served in a shot glass.

Asked about how the current state of inflation has been affecting the Romulo Cafés — there are three branches in the Philippines, in Makati, Alabang, and Tomas Morato in Quezon City, and one in London — the owner told BusinessWorld that they have no choice but to keep up.

“The [cost of] vegetables are so high now [but] we need to have certain price points so there are times when you cannot do anything about it. You just have to suck it up and take the loss. No, we didn’t increase our prices — it’s hard. We have a certain market and we cannot raise our prices [just] like that and expect people to understand because they also have a hard time buying. We just hope that prices will stabilize in the future,” said Ms. Squillantini. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman