Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Booked with friends at La Floretina Resort in Bustos one December weekend, I managed to discover a different touristic side of Bulacan. After check-out, we had to have one last lunch before leaving for Metro Manila. Since we all felt that we've had enough of the typical resort ambiance, we searched Bonga Menor for something old to suit a nostalgic lunch. The heritage house-thronged village didn't disappoint because we soon found ourselves having an impromptu meal at the historic Cafe Apolonio Sa Bahay Na Bato, a charming ancestral house-turned-restaurant along General Alejo Santos Highway that's just five minutes away from the resort.

The Lure of The Arco

As with most old houses that practice adaptive reuse in the Philippines, Cafe Apolonio Sa Bahay Na Bato's major lure is not just its delicious food. Its arco or storage room-style dining area is a crowd-drawer with its exposed stonework. The tunnel-like feature of the restaurant now serves as secluded dining arteries of the main hall that was once the structure's old zaguan. Inside the narrow and windowless space that was once used for storing seasonal harvests, air-conditioning seemed unnecessary. As a matter of fact, it didn't feel claustrophobic at all even with dim lighting.

Heritage Dining

Named after the grandfather of the fourth generation of the Perez clan, the 1858-built Perez Ancestral House is everything that a bahay na bato is -- spacious, durable, noble and elegant. Decked as support of the structure are 16 intricate stone carvings forming the Baroque-style concrete columns which add grandeur to the whole property of Lolo Apolonio apart from the eye-catching open-air azotea by the entrance.

The restaurant is now a favorite dining spot by both locals and tourists because of its turn-of-the-century ambiance. It also has a total of three air-conditioned rooms and a garden venue for special events.

Bicol Express, Pork Sinigang, and More

For lunch, we tried two distinct dishes -- Bicol Express for zest and Pork Sinigang for a home-away-from-home vibe. The restaurant's Bicol Express version tasted as spicy as the traditional versions I had in Albay and Manila, but it surprisingly had unusual hints of sweetness somewhere which I didn't mind since my spicy food-lovin' friend ordered it to complement the hefty bowl of Pork Sinigang, a favorite food of mine.

Although the sinigang order didn't come with a generous amount of meat as I wanted (as my greedy side likes to always behave when a favorite food is served), the good broth's full-bodied flavor definitely made up for it. If anything, the sour soup on rice was enough for me.

My companions went intrepid on their drinks by ordering a Matcha Frappe and a Coffee Jelly Frappe. As for me, I had a jar of fresh Cucumber Lemonade.

I was told back in Manila that the restaurant's best-seller is the Bagnet Sisig, so I'm definitely going to order that for a revisit soon.

What was supposed to be a simple lunch in Bustos turned out to be a rich one thanks to the eye-catching facade and interiors of Cafe Apolonio Sa Bahay Na Bato. When you're touring this side of Bulacan, this restaurant's a must-visit even if you only want to have coffee.

Cafe Apolonio Sa Bahay Na Bato

Official Facebook fan page of Cafe Apolonio Sa Bahay Na Bato

Address: 194 Bonga Menor, Bustos, Bulacan, Philippines
Hours of Operation: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Phone: (044) 816-7530


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