Romulo Café & Restaurant is one of Kensington’s best kept secrets, offering authentic Filipino cuisine and delicious well thought out cocktails. And don’t let the name fool you – Romulo Cafe is not really a cafe but a proper restaurant. On entering we were greeted by a smile from the lovely owner Rowena Romulo, who is the granddaughter of the Filipino diplomat, statesman, soldier, journalist and author Carlos P. Romulo whom the restaurant is named after. Her ambition is to make the restaurant the number one destination for Filipino food through heirloom recipes and dishes handed down from generations past. The space itself is bright and colourful, with shades of lime green and grey throughout. The overall look is smart and contemporary.
Philippine cuisine is a reflection of the country’s history and colonial past, blending together influences from Spanish, Malay and Chinese cooking. The result is a unique amalgamation of flavours that work together beautifully.
We tried a couple of signature cocktails whilst browsing the menu, including the Ube Martini and Mango Mojito, both of which were beautifully presented and expertly made. After taking longer than normal to decide what to have (everything sounded so good!) I left the decision up to our waitress who pushed me towards the Gambas al Ajillo to start, a deliciously bold Filipino-Hispano tapas dish of prawns sauteed in bagoong oil, parsley, and green chillies with nutty garlic butter and served with pan de sai crostini. My guest went with the Sea BreamCeviche, which was cured Sea Bream in coconut milk, lime, radish, fresh mango and avocado served with shredded mooli.
We ordered a lovely bottle of red for the meal, which paired nicely with my main of braised grass-fed British rib of beef, slow cooked and seasoned with a honey chilli glaze and served with pickled cabbage. The beef was so tender that it simply fell apart and the glaze gave it an incredible sweetness. My guest had the Filipono classic, ‘Truffled Chicken Adobo’. The chicken was cooked in soy sauce, garlic and cane vinegar accented with black truffle sauce and served with bok choy and sweet potato.
I was pretty full after our starter and main, but Rowena was not having any of it and told us that no meal at Romulo was complete without a traditional dessert – in this case the ube cheesecake. Ube is a purple yam species found in the Philippines and is an essential everyday ingredient used in households throughout the country. The cheesecake looked striking, dark purple in colour from the ube with splashes of vibrant purple from ube jam. Topped with sweet young coconut and gorgeous coconut ice cream, the cheesecake was simply divine – it had a real depth of unexpected flavour and natural sweetness that can’t be matched by normal sugar.
Wanting to make the most of this delightful restaurant we ordered a couple of Espresso Martini’s as a cheeky nightcap. Romulo Cafe and Restaurant continues to capture the tastebuds of the public and critics, proven through their third victory as Time Outs ‘Most Loved Restaurant in Kensington.’ With their elegant atmosphere, five-star service and flavoursome food at charming prices, Romulo is sure to continue their winning streak once everything goes back to normal for the hospitality industry. This is the perfect place to try lovingly made authentic food from the Philippines.
343 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6NW
020 3141 6390