Romulo Café marked its first year in London with a cocktail bash at its Kensington High Street outpost last Thursday, 2nd March 2017. Hosted by owners Rowena Romulo and Chris Joseph, and Rowena’s daughter Giulia de Pasquale, the party was attended by nearly 100 guests, including the new Philippine envoy to the Court of St James, H.E. Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo and Mrs Linda Lagdameo, who got a taste of Head Chef Lorenzo Maderas’ Filipino-inspired riff on party snacks and bowl food, served with cocktails made with Don Papa Rum. Sandie Romulo-Squillantini and Enzo Squillantini, who founded Romulo Café in Manila in 2009, flew into London specifically for the event, reprising their support for Rowena and Chris at the restaurant’s opening last year.
Filipino food is a unique blend of Chinese, Spanish, Malay and American flavours, a product of the Philippines’ diverse history and colonial heritage. Guests tucked into scallops kilawin (Philippine ceviche), pork barbecue, assorted spring rolls, patotim sliders and bowls filled with lechon kawali (slow cooked pork belly), pancit bihon guisado (thin rice noodles sautéed in garlic, soy sauce, with pieces of chicken and shrimp), seafood kare kare (a peanut-vbased stew) and lamb ‘adobo’ Romulo-style. Melissa Hemsley, one half of London-based celebrity chefs and cookery writers Hemsley & Hemsley, was spotted enjoying the vegetable spring rolls.
The evening capped a successful year for Romulo Café, which saw it named the ‘Most Loved Restaurant in Kensington’ at the 2016 Time Out Love London Awards, gain entry into respected restaurant guide books, as well as receive plaudits from professional critics, bloggers and customers. The 70-seater Romulo Café is a tribute to the great Filipino statesman and diplomat, the late General Carlos P. Romulo and his wife Virginia Llamas, the grandparents of Rowena, a former senior banker.
In congratulating Romulo Café, Ambassador Lagdameo complimented Rowena and Chris for their ‘boldness’ in choosing to start a full-service Filipino restaurant in London, one of the world’s most competitive culinary capitals, and one whose standards are on par with those of some of the UK’s best. He also praised them for doing their part to raise the profile of Filipino cuisine in the eyes of the world.
Before slicing into a giant Spanish-influenced ‘sans rival’ anniversary cake, Rowena Romulo said, ‘We hope that those who taste Filipino food for the first time at Romulo Cafe enjoy it enough to return. And for Filipinos living in London or merely passing through, we hope that Chef Lorenzo’s interpretations of our family’s heirloom recipes continue to bring comfort, pride and a taste of home.’