Romulo Café

Restaurants Kensington
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(133user reviews)
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Venue says Every Monday and Tuesday: enjoy a three-course meal for £24.50 with selected Italian wine (or any soda/juice) from 12-3pm and 6-9pm.

A Kensington restaurant straight out of the Philippines.

Filipino restaurants in London? Rarer than hen’s teeth. There’s Josephine’s in Soho, a couple of interesting pop-ups and that’s about it. It’s a slightly odd cuisine – a meat-heavy mishmash of Spain, Malaysia and China – but it’s becoming popular in the States and where they go we often follow. Well, bar the really bonkers stuff like corn dogs and Easy Cheese. And guns.

This good-looking Kensington restaurant is the first foray from a small group with branches over in the Philippines. It takes its name from the grandfather of one of the owners, General Carlos P Romulo – former diplomat, statesman, soldier, journalist, publisher, author and sometime president of the UN General Assembly. Not a bad CV. 

I think he’d approve of the food here, not least the huge portions (he must have worked up an appetite). On my visit, the only flaw was that the short ribs were slightly overcooked, but they still came with a whack of flavour and a gorgeous honey, soy and garlic glaze. 

Everything else was a joy, especially the classic dishes. Pork sisig is usually made with pig’s face (including the snout) but here they use pork belly, chopped, seared and topped with fried egg, pickled apples and caramelised shallots. It was excellent. As was their take on Filipino adobo, with chicken and pork belly marinated and cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. 

Service was hugely warm, and the atmosphere fun: when was the last time you saw two tables clapping a twerking child? I’m pretty sure that happened. 

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Romulo Café says
Sisig and sinigang, kare-kare and lechon kawali. Romulo Café's mission is to make Filipino dishes like these known to all.

Romulo Café is named after the Philippines’ most decorated statesman and run by his descendants who created a successful chain of stylish Romulo Cafés in Manila. In their first international branch in Kensington, Filipino chef Lorenzo Maderas is faithful to the Romulo family’s heirloom recipes but occasionally wields a license to innovate. The result? An elegant, delicately-balanced homage to the Spanish-American-Chinese-Malay roots of a unique cuisine. Filipino-style cakes and desserts are created in-house (and available to order). Clever cocktails, like Pacquaio’s Last Punch, guarantee customers a bit of swagger.
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By: Stephen Farmer

Posted:

Venue name: Romulo Café
Contact:
Address: 343 Kensington High St
London
W8 6NW
Transport: Rail: Kensington Olympia
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £90.
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Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:121
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|133
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Renee S
1 of 1 found helpful
tastemaker

Filipino cuisine hasn’t quite become as popular as other Asian cuisines yet in London but it’s definitely something that you should try. It’s homey and comforting, and something a little different.


What I had:

  • Crispy Squid: Deep fried crispy squid with a chilli honey and garlic glaze topped with spring onions
  • Pomelo Salad: Lollo Rosso lettuce with native grapefruit and salted egg drizzled with strawberry vinaigrette
  • Tito Greg’s Kare-Kare: A stew in a peanut based sauce served with steamed vegetables and shrimp paste
  • Adobo Chicken and Pork Belly: Twice cooked meat marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic with glazed shallots and sweet potato mash
  • Pandit Palabok: Rice noodle dish with shrimp sauce and topped with mixed seafood, minced pork, crushed pork crackling, scallions, fried garlic and hard boiled eggs
  • Garlic Rice
  • Halo Halo: A mix of ube ice cream, banana puree, jackfruit gel, pandan jelly, leche flan, milk granita and coconut
  • Banana Turon: Banana fritters served warm with langka ice cream and toffee sauce

Overall, this is a satisfying, authentic and hearty meal. The crispy squid was indeed crunchy with a nice balance of sweet and spicy - great with a cold beer; the Pomelo Salad could have had a little more pomelo in it, however the strawberry vinaigrette was lovely, its sweetness contrasting against the saltiness of the egg. The best dish was definitely the Adobo Chicken Pork Belly, it’s full of flavour, fall off the bone meat and in a delicious gravy. I wouldn’t try the Kare-Kare or the Pandit Palabok again as it just seemed a little plain on the peanut flavour and thus not as strong a dish in contrast with the Adobo. In the dessert dishes, I really enjoyed the Halo Halo as it’s got such a variety of textures, had jackfruit in it, and not too sickly sweet. The Banana Turon was like a banana spring roll with a thick toffee dip and was paired nicely with some ice cream.


Tip: Be hungry! - 3 mains is plenty for 4 people, leaving room for dessert, (despite what the waitress may say) as the dishes are quite heavy and rich. I would definitely try the Adobo Chicken and Pork Belly dish and the Beef Short Ribs Tadyang for a main; and for dessert, the Halo Halo and Palitaw (sweet flat rice cake with coconut and sesame seeds with ube spread) as I think these are the strongest dishes I’ve tried to date.


Good For: relaxed dates, catchups with friends, casual lunch/dinners, business lunch/dinners, big groups, something different.

Gemma M
tastemaker

On High Street Kensington with a few transport options to get you there.  Inside the restaurant is nicely decorated, the staff were friendly but could have been a bit more attentive; topping up my water and informative about the portion sizes.  They will let you order more food than necessary without any warning and they also brought me delicious sweet bread with my starter which was very filling.


The food was well presented and full of flavour, just disappointed that I didn't get to try more, even if I'd come with another person it'd been enough for 2.  As the service wasn't the best I didn't feel they were deserving of the full service charge, but this appeared to cause some issues.


I opted for the tinapa rolls, which were crispy spring like rolls filled with smoked fish and nicely spiced dip on the side and bingagoongang: boneless pork with shrimp sauce.

Carie D

It's scrumptious! I totally love every choices given on the menu. Totally recommending this restaurant to everyone.

Claire M

The twist they've made to Filipino dishes makes it appealing to all , keeping the same goodness and authentic Filipino taste!And the presentation is second to none!Ambience of true Filipino culture, accommodating and friendly-that is Romulo cafe!

m v

I love the interior especially the library downstairs...and you MUST TRY the "tadyang ng baka" or Beef Ribs! Sooooooo goooood!!!!

Maria Rowena S

Excellent Filipino food reminiscent of happy and fun times and the comfort of home but also distinctly London with its hip drinks and ambiance.

Carina A

The food is authentic and well thought out. It is a place where one feels a great sense of belongingness, tradition and elegance. Carina

Liana R

Eager-to-please staff, fast service, generous portions, value-for-money and consistently delicious food!

Boing F

The Romulos adheres to an excellence beyond expectations, that their repertoire of choice Philippine cuisine has remained favorites among homesick Filipinos.... Who can resist delectable artsy presentation by their exclusive chefs??? Go once & you'll be back....

Malcolm C

Romulo cafe is a very welcome addition to the Filipino food scene in the UK. Having eaten there several times, their food is delicious as well as being authentic.

A great deal of care and effort has been put into recreating a little bit of the Philippines, right into the heart of Kensington. Well done and thank you. Must try amazing culinary experience in London.

Dianne M

They do a great job of introducing Filipino food to the British palate without losing the authenticity of the cuisine. The atmosphere is that of a sophisticated home. I would also recommend their imaginative cocktails (such as, Imelda's high heels and Batangas bad boy)!

Ms Mhaier

Please support our own Filipino cuisine, food was excellent with very friendly environment and hospitable staffs.

Alan C

It is just great to get even more choice in London - I cannot think of another Philippines restaurant in Europe! Food is great and a super atmosphere.....

Verna C

One of the best Asian restaurant in London. It became one of our favourites' xxx

Andrea T

A friendly cozy novelty in the panorama of London restaurant. Rowena is the perfect host and the cuisine is superb!!

Maryann A

Romulo Cafe is a wonderful restaurant with great and attentive staff. It is nice to have a piece of home in Central London!

Ali N

I live in the neighbourhood and just found this place.  The food is tasty. Their hospitality is just like the time I visited the country.  Nice presentation of the food.  Recommend the beef ribs for sure.  I'll be bringing my friends back!

Mada D

Yummy!  Big portions and good price for this part of London.  I know I will go back to try the other dishes.  The desserts hit the spot and finish off the meal.  That high heel cocktail is super!

N.Ali

Just tried Philippine food for the first time.  Very good!  Beef ribs and lamb shank were really good.  Fair price and 5 star interiors.  I asked to take home some of their bread - worth it!  Will go back again.

mixi b

Best Filipino food in town!!! Great place and fantastic people. Highly suggested!!!

Kerry N

Fantastic Filipino cuisine, served in a beautiful setting with great service. The Adomo Romulo Style is a must!

Jo D

Super tastey! The food and cocktails are presented so elegantly. I do enjoy dining there. They treat all their guests like family. Nice to have a place like this to go to locally. Bravo!!

Marco D

Great experience, wonderful location, excellent food and above all very attentive and friendly staff. Hoping to taste soon those delights.

Giovanni F

Posto fantastico arredato benissimo con un atmosfera speciale..... Ma soprattutto si mangia divinamente..... 5 stelle meritatissime!!

Darren D

The venue was beautiful with a great atmosphere an the staff where friendly and attentive

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