BENGUET | Café by the Ruins at Baguio City

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dim Nooks at Cafe by the Ruins

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 Cafe by the Ruins' Romantic Settingsaffair; 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).

Bagnet & Padas Bagoong Chopped Tomatoes and Shallots Gallantina

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 theCafe by the Ruins' Expansive Dining Hall 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. You can actually make something like this at home!

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.


Dragon Lanterns at the Dining Hall Cafe by the Ruins Products for Sale Outdoor Dining Area at the Cafe by the Ruins


Click to View Location on Google Maps

Café by the Ruins
Address: 25 Shuntug Road, Baguio City
Contact Number: (074) 442-4010 | Email:
Baguio 2011 Series

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  1. ah ruins... yes, the place, ambiance are so perfect. but the gallantina, wow, so wrong.

    and a hundred for a tall glass of calamansi juice? wow.

    no, i've given cafe by the ruins a second chance, and it still disappoints. sayang, when you say "cafe by the ruins" pa naman, you'll think of baguio agad.

    sana nga lang everything about the place should be as perfect as baguio, that includes, of course, the food.

  2. The place looks good.. pero kung di naman ganon kasarap mga food...
    Naku parang may mali... hehehe...
    Sana Pagtuunan nila ng pansin yung mga pagkain... tsk..tsk...tsk...

  3. It's charming at night! I've never been there in the evening. I love their hot tsokolate, and well, the ambiance. I will have to agree with your review. The food tastes good (at least the ones I've tried), but nothing extraordinary. It's not value for money. I think the only thing that makes me go back there is the ambiance! I've had such good memories there with friends and family.

  4. Nice cafe. It was a relaxing place to make tambay and have some cup of coffee with your loveone or friends.

  5. P100 for unrefillable lemon juice?!!?

    Awww and I was planning to eat here next time I go to Baguio. Maybe I still will just for the experience.

    I really love your blog! Thanks for stumbling upon mine and commenting! :D

  6. AuiManila
    Sayang talaga Cafe by the Ruins, ganda pa naman ng resto nila. Three tries is enough na siguro.

    I hear you, it should be about the food first before anything else.

    Jonna, The BRATpacker
    Uy good for you, I wish I'd enjoyed my stay there more cos the resto is really nice pa naman.

    Thanks! Try mo rin baka masarap yung masubukan mo na food nila, tas let me know kung safe na bumalik dun. =)

  7. Tama... Kasi resto sya hindi naman park lang.. dapat talaga una yung food.:)

  8. Christian, tanong lang.. :)

    Kung yung Food Tagilid... yung service ba nila pasado?

  9. Tripper10
    Indi rin eh, parang ang sungit nung waiter na umasikaso samin. Di ata kasi kami mukhang mayaman haha =P

  10. Ay naku... bakit naman ganon? Dapat bumawi sila sa service.. :(
    Sayang yung place maganda panaman... (Lalo pang pinaganda ng mga shots mo)..

    Naku dapat pala mukha kang mayaman.. hahaha...

  11. i used to love Cafe by the Ruins until my last visit were we were extremely disappointed not only with the food but with the lousy service too

  12. Tripper10
    Haha oo nga dapat ata mukha akong mayaman :P

    I really don't know what the deal is with this cafe, parang lahat ng mabasa ko ngayon bad review sa kanila