Merienda meetup at Bench Cafe, BGC

Merienda – or minindal – is a time-honored tradition in this country. A light meal or snack in the afternoon often figures as highlights in our childhood, and carries on to our adulthood in the form of coffee breaks.

During a recent meetup with my OFW friend, Tina, I revisited this childhood experience with classic merienda fare at Bench Cafe in BGC.

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

Bench Cafe is an offshoot of the top Filipino clothing brand Bench in partnership with restaurant developer Foodee Global Concepts. This restaurant brand centers around its concept of combining traditional and modern takes on Filipino food.

Its flagship store in BGC also provides a posh yet comfortable background in which diners can fully enjoy its Pinoy dishes. Tables and chairs are amply spaced in a spacious floor space brightly lit with both natural light and pendant lighting and tastefully highlighted with wall art.

This well-appointed eatery served as our venue for a long-awaited get-together. Due to quarantine restrictions, Tina was unable to come home to the Philippines for two years so I jumped at the chance to check out Bench Cafe’s OG branch for our meetup.

Our merienda included:

Pancit Guisado (Php259 good for two | Php420 good for four).

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

A hearty dish of stir-fried noodles mixed with meat, shrimp and vegetables, and topped with pork rind, this dish is usually a highlight for many of my afternoon snack times at home.

Flan B (Php219).

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

Bench Cafe’s version of the Pinoy classic custard and caramel dessert topped with macapuno, always a sweet and creamy indulgence!

Classic Turon ala Mode (Php55).

A crispy fritter made with banana encased in lumpia wrapper with caramelized sugar topped with ube ice cream, another merienda staple.

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

Ube Halo Halo (Php99/12oz | Php145/16oz).

A thirst quenching dessert and icy beverage made with coconut shaved ice with garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan and nata de coco topped with ube ice cream and rice krispies.

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

These Pinoy favorites on the table and my dear friend to catch up with made my merienda experience at Bench Cafe so special.

Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC
Bench Cafe? BGC

Check it out! Drop by this branch at the second floor of Bench’s flagship store at 9th Avenue corner Lane O Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global Citt, Taguig, open daily from 10am to 7pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • Level 2, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
  • Ground Floor, Padre Faura Wing, Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila

You may also order for delivery via GrabFood.

Stay updated on Bench Cafe’s offers and promos by following it on Facebook and Instagram.

Bench Cafe opens newest branch in Trinoma

The clothing brand Bench has been around for as long as I can remember. One of the “proudly Filipino” enterprise success stories, it has been a major player in local fashion and has even expanded its sphere of influence to that of a lifestyle brand with its personal care producrs, skin care services and hair salons.

It even ventured into the food business, notably with the opening of the first branch of its eponymous restaurant Bench Cafe last year.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Fast forward to today and Bench Cafe has already opened its fifth branch at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. Such speedy growth is proof that its concept of combining traditional and modern takes on Filipino food works and has found its place in Metro Manila’s highly competitive food scene.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

The cafe held a special preview for bloggers the day before its Grand Opening. Together with my fellow foodies from #WeLoveToEatPH, I got a taste of how Bench Cafe’s Chef Carlo Miguel melds local flavors together and updates classic Pinoy favorites such as:

Binagoongan Ceasar (Php149). Romaine lettuce with dilis and croutons tossed in a creamy dressing made with bagoong (shrimp paste) and queso de bola.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Tinapa Cones (Php129). Homemade lumpia wrappers formed into crispy cones and filled with tinapa (smoked fish) mousse and salsa.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Gising Gising (Php195). A spicy dish of chopped beans cooked in coconut milk and chilis.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Sisig Skillet (Php249). Pork cheeks and belly cooked in two ways and served topped with calamansi foam.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Fried Chicken (Php480). Whole spring chicken fried to a golden brown with crispy flavorful skin and juicy meat served with a honey patis sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Dancing Fish (Php400). Crispy butterfly tilapia doused in escabeche sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Pancit Guisado (Php239). Stir-fried noodles with shrimp, meat and chopped vegetables.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Silogs (from sinangag or “garlic rice” and itlog “egg”) are breakfast staples for many Filipinos. Bench Cafe serves these with garlic rice, fried egg and homemade atsara. The silog variation we’ve tasted here is the Tendon Silog (Php199) made with melt-in-your-mouth beef tendon in pares sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bongalmusal (Php349). If you’re ever at a loss on what to have for brekkie, this hyped-up silog meal serves up everything you could want! Spam, US beef tapa, tocino, daing (dried fish) and corned beef. Best of all, this dish is good for two so do share it with someone special.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe also introduced Bench-Tos which are glamourized takes on the fare available at a Pinoy turo-turo. This small roadside eatery is where diners point out the food they want and a serving is placed on their plates. Bench Cafe updates this concept by merging it with the Japanese bento – the chosen viand is served on a tray along with vegetables, homemade salsa and atsara as well as steamed Ifugao rice. Variations of this offering that we tasted include the Bagnet Kare Kare (Php339) which has a rich peanutty sauce that has no need for bagoong to have flavor, and the Inasal Liempo (Php299) which is Bench Cafe’s take on the Visayan grilled pork belly.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

To cap out meal, Bench Cafe serves up its own takes on dessert classics with the smooth and creamy leche flan it dubbed Flan B (Php185) topped with macapuno and Classic Turon ala Mode (Php49).

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench also applied its own twists on the popular dessert called Halo-Halo, which consists of sweetened fruits and other fixings topped with shaved ice and served with milk. Its variations include White (Php85 for 12oz | Php129 for 16oz) made with coconut shaved ice with garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, nata de coco and coconut ice cream; Mango Otap (Php90 for 12oz | Php109 for 16oz), mango shaved ice with crushed otap, mango puree, cream and fresh mango cubes; Ube (Php95 for 12oz | Php149 for 16oz), ube halaya and palm beans added to the White Halo Halo; and Mais con Hielo (Php60 for 12oz | Php100 for 16oz), corn- flavored shaved ice with milk and kernels of sweetcorn.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

I had a great time discovering fresh ways to enjoy the food that I grew up with at Bench Cafe.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Many thanks to the management and staff of Bench Cafe for having us and to EJ of #ILoveToEatPH for extending the invitation.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

This Bench Cafe branch is located at Ground Floor, MRT Wing, Trinoma Mall, Bagong Pagasa, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 9pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • Second Floor, Bench Flagship Store, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Level 2, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
  • Ground Floor, Padre Faura Wing, Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila

Bench Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I attended a foodie meetup held here wherein food and drink items were served to allow us to sample the fare. These were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants: