We did not want to leave Baguio without dining at least once at the famed Cafe By The Ruins. We actually set aside a time and day for it, and we made sure that no other activity would interfere with our schedule. We had never been there, we were excited and, considering that its fame goes far and wide, we had high expectations.
As soon as we got off the pick-up, I noticed the glass bread stand. Oh, I drooled. I really did. But it was after 6.00 p.m., I wanted a rice-and-ulam dinner, so we skipped the bread and went over the menu. For drinks, Speedy had strawberry smoothie and I had ginger fizz. We happily sipped them as we waited for the food. I took stock of the romantic lighting, the rustic setting and the informal atmosphere. Very relaxing. It’s a place where one can have a long and leisurely meal without feeling rushed nor get bored with the laid back feel. It’s a pretty place, I grant you that.
No starters, no salads. We went the direct route to the main event. Baguio bagnet, it was called, and it was listed among the recommended dishes. It came with red rice (our preference) and sinigang broth. The rice was good. They sure know how to cook red rice which can be a bit tricky if you want it soft but not mushy. Sadly, the bagnet and the broth were nowhere as good as the rice.
Insert big, sad sigh here.
Bagnet is a traditional Ilocano dish ang Baguio’s population is substantially Ilocano. Surely, if a Baguio restaurant calls something bagnet, it isn’t unreasonable to expect it to be something at least similar to Ilocano bagnet. But the bagnet we were served had chewy skin instead of crackling-like. It was underseasoned too.
Sinigang is a sour soup but the sinigang broth that we were served tasted so bland that I felt it had been diluted to double the amount.
So, it was a terribly bad meal? No completely. Dessert was lovely.
By the time we were finished with the Baguio bagnet and rice (I hardly touched my broth), we decided to move to the al fresco section so we could smoke while having our coffee.
The coffee was superb. Benguet coffee is really becoming just as famous, if not more so, than Batangas barako. Speedy’s leche flan was good (although not that spectacular) but my Pavlova was unforgettable. Stuff that dreams are made of. The meringue crust was not too thick, the cream was not overly abundant but the fruits — oh, the fresh fruits that they did not scrimp on! — were perfect individually and as an assembly with each one complimenting the rest with every mouthful.
Will we dine there again? Yes. But, next time, I’ll order pasta with some of the lovely bread I saw on the stand. And the meal will end with Benguet coffee and glorious dessert. But no more effing Baguio bagnet for me, thank you. Once was enough.