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.
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.
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.
Tinapa Cones (Php129). Homemade lumpia wrappers formed into crispy cones and filled with tinapa (smoked fish) mousse and salsa.
Gising Gising (Php195). A spicy dish of chopped beans cooked in coconut milk and chilis.
Sisig Skillet (Php249). Pork cheeks and belly cooked in two ways and served topped with calamansi foam.
Fried Chicken (Php480). Whole spring chicken fried to a golden brown with crispy flavorful skin and juicy meat served with a honey patis sauce.
Dancing Fish (Php400). Crispy butterfly tilapia doused in escabeche sauce.
Pancit Guisado (Php239). Stir-fried noodles with shrimp, meat and chopped vegetables.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
I had a great time discovering fresh ways to enjoy the food that I grew up with at Bench Cafe.
Many thanks to the management and staff of Bench Cafe for having us and to EJ of #ILoveToEatPH for extending the invitation.
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
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:
- Kusina Moderne, Poblacion
- Bai’s Boneless Lechon Cebu, Pasig
- Liloan’s Pride Liempo, Greenhills
- Abbiocco, Paligsahan
- Chef Robert, Greenhills
- The Lechon Shop, Tomas Morato
- Angus Tapa Centrale, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, Tomas Morato
- Luna J Filipino Gastropub, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, SM Marikina
- Bacolod Chicken Parilla, Tomas Morato
- Classic Savory, SM East Ortigas
- Jaytee’s Tagaytay
- Buddy’s, Cubao
- Cabalen, Ayala Malls Feliz
- Limbaga 77, Tomas Morato
- Victorino’s, Tomas Morato
- Locavore, Kapitolyo
- Recipes, Tomas Morato
- Mozu at Ming’s, Tagaytay
- Siglo Modern Filipino, Tagaytay
- Conti’s, Greenbelt
- 13 Ubay Street, Banawe
- Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros
- Rico’s Lechon, Tiendesitas
- Fika, Capitol Hills, QC
- Sartin, Tagaytay
- Lazat, Tomas Morato
- Romulo Cafe, Tomas Morato
- Lobo Filipino Tavern, Poblacion
- Joliant, Tomas Morato
- Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato
- Padi’s Point, Sumulong
- Padi’s Point, Upper Antipolo
- Padi’s Point, Tomas Morato
- Padi’s Point, Metro East
- Sisig Society, Fisher Mall
- Tapsi ni Vivian, Pasig
- Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato
- Pamana, Tomas Morato