After rummaging through Baguio’s ukay-ukay stores, it was time to eat again. Even with the city’s numerous restaurants, we thought of trying out Café by the Ruins once more.
If you check the Internet, this café would show up as one of the top places to eat in Baguio. The first time we visited, we were surprisingly disappointed; their food was too ordinary for its high prices. Thinking it was just a case of ordering the wrong dish, I decided to try them out again on a later visit with my cousins. Same affair; similar thoughts ran through my mind, too expensive for too ordinary tasting dishes.
Thinking it might be just me, I asked those with me and everyone shared the same sentiments that I did.
Still, thinking we might have again ordered the wrong food, we decided to give Café by the Ruins another chance.
The place had hardly changed since I last went there; it was still comfortably dim and cozy. The only difference now was that the nook at the far end of the resto overlooking a vacant lot was now gone, the said lot now occupied by the gaudy-colored Eurotel building.
The restaurant is divided into two dining halls; the main one which basks warmly in orange lights that hangs from its soaring cogon roof, and the outer hall located in the gardens, which is not exactly outdoors since it has now been roofed over. This area is not as fully lighted as the main hall and the seats are farther apart from each other which gives it a more intimate atmosphere.
Café at the Ruins is operated by a group of local artists and their influence can definitely be seen in its interiors. It was built around the old foundations of a former governor’s house, hence the name. It was almost like a saner version of Kidlat Tahimik’s Oh My Gulay. It is strikingly beautiful especially at night.
We seated ourselves on the dimmer part of the resto and gave our orders to the waiter; Baguio Bagnet & Padas Bagoong (Php265.00), Gallantina (Php145.00), an extra rice (since the gallantina had no rice with it) and a Lemon Fruit Juice (Php100.00).
Our orders arrived 15 minutes later. The bagnet was accompanied by a cup of mountain rice, fish bagoong with dayap juice sauce and a bowl of chopped tomatoes and shallots. The chicken gallantina was served with cold aspic, mango-pineapple chutney & side salad of tomato quenelles with watercress vinaigrette (italicized words taken from their website as I wouldn’t be able to identify what those are if my life depended on it, hehe).
Cafe by the Ruins’ bagnet was crunchy as it was supposed to be, but some of the meat was stringy. The fat, which I was expecting to be meltingly delicious, was a tad too rubbery. The sauce was right on the money but I didn’t like the veggie side dish. It’s no fault of the resto though; I just don’t like pinakbet-tasting veggies.
The chicken gallantina, we didn’t like at all. I’m not a choosy person and I’m mostly assigned as the person who’d eat food that my co-diners do not like, but this one I can’t eat at all. The chicken seemed to be not well cooked and it has a malansa (I’m unable to find a direct English translation of the word, but icky seemed to fit the bill) feel to it. This might be due to the way the dish was cooked which is described by their menu as being cooked in stock with rice wine (whatever that means).
The lemon fruit juice was just that; a regular tasting hundred-peso fruit juice, it’s not even refillable and I cannot for the life of me fathom it’s price tag.
In summary, I would not deny that Café by the Ruins looks really charming with its warm lights, wooden furniture, dim nooks, organic design, and artsy feel; the place is really romantic. But the food and its price tag disappoint me time and again.
I’m no food expert and my taste buds can easily be pleased, but I can only classify Café by the Ruins’ dishes as average. Pair it with a hefty price tag and the associated expectations for expensive dishes and my rating for this lovely café can only plummet downwards.
I would not think twice in coming back to this beautiful café if they upped the ante on their food or lower their prices down to what is deemed appropriate to the quality of the dishes they serve, but until then I’d rather try some other restaurants in Baguio first.
Café by the Ruins
Address: 25 Shuntug Road, Baguio City
Contact Number: (074) 442-4010 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org