Never had we been so glad to be wrong when we thought we’d never be able to dine again at Cafe by the Ruins in Chuntug Street. Little did we know that it was being reconstructed, and it had caught us by surprise when it reopened, just like a phoenix from the ashes. Yes! This is not a drill! Cafe by the Ruins is back in town with a different look!
Despite having a more modern architecture, the cafe still keeps some of its history in the form of the olden arches and the outdoor gathering circle. But stepping inside brings us to a whole new world. Greeting us is the centerpiece of the restaurant – a glass case containing the different assortments of freshly made bread. Adorned with dark gray walls and hanging sculptures similar to those found in Cafe by the Ruins Dua, the place is almost unrecognizable.
But one thing’s for sure. It still serves the same good food that we love. So it’s only fitting that we revisit some of their specialties and all-time favorites from the menu.
Among their soups is the Forest Stream Soup, very appropriately named, we think. With its ginger broth, lush green watercress, and generous serving of shiitake mushrooms, we are reminded of cozy rainy days. We feel like we could put on some rain boots and jump right into the bowl.
As humans who aren’t usually “morning people”, we love that their breakfast meals are available all day. The Farmer’s Morning Feast is a heaven-sent. A classic feel-good dish with home-cured bacon (because who doesn’t love bacon?), eggs, and rice. But that’s not all. It also comes with either coffee or juice and a bowl of fresh fruit. It’s something to lift up your spirit for the rest of the day.
A classic Ilocano dish, their Baguio Bagnet has a twist (of lemon) and more dimensions of flavor. Acidity is the perfect combo to fried food, so there’s a bowl of sinigang and a serving of tomato relish for the perfect amount of sourness to balance it out. There is also a side of Padas bagoong for bursts of saltiness. This crispy bagnet is one of the Filipino dishes that is the epitome of soul food.
Among their drinks, we have a latte of love for the Cafe Latte. Because CAFFEINE. Starting with a tall glass of milk, you get to pour the shot of espresso yourself (if you haven’t stopped yourself from gulping it straight up). Watching the coffee and the milk mix together is pure art. Note: If you have an affinity for sweet drinks, you may ask for syrup.
Adding a vibrant splash of red-purple is the Agua Fresca de Jamaica. Made from an infusion of Hibiscus or gumamela, this refreshing drink is rimmed with sugar to complement its sour taste which packs a punch. Also a healthy addition to your meal is the Salabat. Whether you like it hot or cold, this herb and ginger infusion with a sprig of lemongrass adds life (literally!). Perfect for those under-the-weather days and any day at all.
Not all who come to the cafe come to dine. Some come and go for a bagful of the tasty baked goodies such as their scones, ensaymada, and pan de sal.
Ernie’s Kamote Bread is always in demand and has become synonymous to the Cafe by the Ruins brand itself. Made with sweet potatoes from the highlands, molasses, and milk, it’s perfect on its own or with a dash of spread, like Kesong Puti with Basil, made of carabao cottage cheese. Add in a cup of caffeine (again), like their Macchiato shot, and you’re good to go!
We definitely missed Cafe by the Ruins, which has rightfully become a Baguio icon on its own. And we are head over heels happy that it’s back. Come and see for yourself how much has changed… but also stayed the same.