Situated in a converted Georgian townhouse in Kensington, Romulo Cafe‘s homely vibe is the perfect post work treat-yourself moment. The friendly staff come welcoming with open arms – as if they’re letting you into their very own home – and it’s this kind of comforting attitude we all yearn for after a long, testing day in the office.
Of course, this Filipino restaurant is not only best enjoyed on a working weeknight, but every other night of the week, too. Open for business every night from 5pm, and from 12pm on Friday-Sunday, you’re never short of hours to visit.
Inside are walls clad in green and white palm tree print wallpaper, reminiscent of the Philippines tropics. Framed paintings and vintage photos decorate said walls, including one very beautiful painting of Dona Virgina Llamas Romulo: grandmother of restaurant owner Rowena Romulo who passed down many of the family cooking secrets. These old recipes have influenced most of the dishes on the current menu, which gives the restaurant that real family-run feel.
Romulo deserves a roaring round of applause, if not for it’s attention to detail and cosy setting, then for it’s fabulous Filipino spread, that’s for sure. What more could you want of an a la carte menu than a selection of comfortably priced tapas, signature sharing dishes and traditional plates?
Our starters were definitely a stellar introduction to the menu, diving into plates of crispy squid with chilli honey and garlic glaze, and smoked fish spring rolls with pinakurat (spiced) vinegar. The winner pick which we urge everyone to try is the confit duck leg bao bun plate. This dish packs a whole lot of flavour and serves up a little DIY fun, building the bao bun with ingredients to your liking. The ingredients come separate on the plate, including the fluffy bao buns themselves, tender Creedy Carver duck, jicama, cucumber and plum sauce to top.
We spoiled ourselves with a sharing platter for our main which we found on the ‘Specials’ menu that night, comprised of a selection of BBQ-ed meat and seafood served to theme on a green palm leaf. From chargrilled stuffed squid to crispy pork hock, chicken and slow-cooked beef, this indulgent selection is a serious filler (and a big recommendation for the meat-lovers).
Next time we hit up Romulo, we’re totally coming back with an intimate group of friends or perhaps even for a date (if we’re lucky…). This Kensington gem offers a fittingly relaxed vibe alongside a menu built to spoil and satisfy.