Romulo Cafe & Restaurant & Don Papa Rum. An Unmissable Collaboration
Just a few minutes walk from Kensington Olympia at the quiet end of Kensington High Street you'd be forgiven for missing the little gem that is Romulo Cafe and Restaurant. I was amazed to discover a stunning interior which belied the relatively modest frontage and enjoyed fine Filipino cuisine, carefully crafted cocktails and some fascinating history behind this family business.
This multi-award-winning restaurant has apparently become London’s go to destination for fine Filipino food. Certainly the venue was busy on the damp Wednesday evening I visited last week (AD, GIFTED) with a nice buzz at tables where diners shared generously portioned dishes, cocooned safely by transparent dividers.
Staff wearing masks were attentive and knowledgeable and the food was a triumphant parade of some of the best of this nation's flavours which is influenced by so many Asian cuisines.
Sauces in my Beef Salpicao (pictured above) and my truffled pork belly Adobo "Romulo style" were rich without being overpowering. The pork in my pork belly, made to the owner's grandma's recipe, was particularly good. It was tender and tasty after being cooked in soy, garlic and cane sugar, drizzled with black truffle sauce, topped with a crunchy piece of crackling and served with one of my faves, Bok Choi, and sweet potato.
Luckily I still had room in my dessert stomach for at least some of the Banana Turon served with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream and staff happily packaged up what I couldn't manage to enjoy at home.
Until Sunday November 15 you can enjoy a special 3-course "Sugarlandia" menu with 2 paired cocktails for just £35 as part of an extended celebration of London Cocktail Month and a collaboration between Romulo and the producers of a celebrated single-island rum, Don Papa, distilled and aged for over seven years on Negros Occidental (known locally as Sugarlandia) in the Philippines.
There is another, more poignant, guiding force behind the partnership. On 20th October 1944, Brigadier General Carlos P. Romulo, whose granddaughter is the restaurant’s co-owner, accompanied General Douglas MacArthur and his American troops as they invaded Leyte, one of the Visayan group of islands in the central Philippines.
Commemorating the 76th anniversary of this pivotal moment which marked the beginning of the end of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, and the triumph of the Allied forces in the Far East during World War II, is a menu specially curated by Romulo’s executive chef Jeremy Villanueva. He has also worked closely with Ben Rojo, Don Papa’s US brand ambassador and a World's Best Bars mixologist, to ensure the flavours of both food and spirit complement each other perfectly.
A starter of Lime Scented Poached Prawn Kinilaw in Coconut Cream & Maruya Sweetcorn Fritters is followed by a main course comprising Pork Belly Lechon Roll Stuffed with Turmeric (Dilaw) Sticky Rice with Humba Sauce & Served with Grilled Sweet Potato.
Bringing a memorable meal to a close is a dessert of Don Papa Rum Ginger Glazed Pineapple and Otap Mille-feuille Served with Don Papa Rum & Raisin Ice Cream.
These exotic dishes are paired with two equally memorable cocktails: Sunshine in Sugarlandia (Don Papa Rum, Lemongrass, Calamansi, Ginger, Honey) and Buko Pandan (Don Papa Rum, Pandan, Coconut, Chocolate, Sea Salt).
Additionally, anyone who opts for the menu will be entered into a raffle to win a 4.5l bottle of Don Papa Rum. As if you needed an excuse to sample such exquisite food at such a reasonable price.
Dont be misled by the mention of "cafe" in the venue's name. Yes, they do offer some of the most delicious baked delights this carb-loving gal could want but this is a sophisticated space which is perfectly suited to a stylish evening out.
Whether you are looking for a casual family night, a takeaway (or delivery), a venue for date night with your other half or plan to propose somewhere beautiful after a sumptuous meal, Romulo Cafe and Restaurant can be all things to all people. Just remember to wear something with an elasticated waist.
Romulo Café & Restaurant, 343 Kensington High Street,
Kensington London W8 6NW
Disclaimer: We ate and drank free for the purpose of writing this honest review.