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Bench Cafe: BENCH/TO, Bongalmusal, and more!

Bench Cafe 

From lifestyle clothing and products, to stylish and trendy salon, Bench, which started as a homegrown clothing brand, has further expanded to touch another aspect of Filipino lives -- food and beverages.

Starting January 25, 2018, experience sumptuous and bold Filipino dishes as Bench Cafe opens to the public.
well-spaced and comfortable 

Bench Cafe is located at the 2nd Level of Bench Flagship Store, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City. The place exhibits a modern yet homey vibe accented with earthy tones of green and pink. High ceiling and well-spaced tables give privacy and comfort for each diner/set of diners.
located at the 2nd Level of Bench Flagship Store earthy tones of pink and green 

Expect Filipino dishes as the core -- classic, modern, fusion, or whatever comes to Chef Carlo Miguel's imagination! But the dishes are well-prepared to reflect Filipino traditions, culture, and character from various places in the country.

Now let's dig in to some of the dishes I've tried.

Shrimp Suha Salad (239Php)
Prawn and pomelo salad with coriander and calamansi dressing
Shrimp Suha Salad 

Whether it's something healthy or something to tickle your appetite, you can't go wrong with the light and refreshing flavors of Shrimp Suha Salad.
Shrimp Suha Salad Sisig Skillet 

Sisig Skillet (189Php)
Crispy pork mask and belly with 62-degree Celsius egg and calamansi foam
Sisig Skillet 

When I saw the calamansi foam on the Sisig Skillet, I got reminded that yes, this is Chef Carlo Miguel's creation. It is similar to his Modern Sisilog which I've tried at The Brewery At The Palace.

Sisig Skillet is the more straight-to-the-point and simpler sisig version. This can be enjoyed with rice or as pulutan. Sweet, savory, creamy, and meaty, yet can still be made spicy when you chop and mix in the chili. A more interesting option is the Sisig Lettuce Cup (Php239) which allows you to enjoy sisig in a fun Korean-like way. You get a piece of lettuce, put some Utak Aioli, chicharon, and sisig, wrap and eat!

Tinapa Cones (3 pieces - 129Php)
Crispy lumpia cones filled with tinapa mousse and salsa
Tinapa Cone 

I'm not fond of bouquets but this type, I'd gladly accept! Tinapa Cone -- isn't it lovely?? But seriously, among the appetizers, this is where I instantly fell in love with. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. The combination of tinapa mousse and salsa is just perfect, very evident tinapa taste but not overwhelming. Craving for it as I write this...

Bongalmusal (319Php)
Spam, corned beef, daing na bangus, tocino, longganisa, and tapa. Served with garlic rice, crispy egg, roasted tomato, and atsara 

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Did I hear you say heavy breakfast? 'Cause Bongalmusal would definitely suffice it! All your favorite breakfast staples in one dish -- it's the ultimate breakfast meal. But no, you don't have to finish it on your own as a serving can be shared by two persons.

What's different with Bench Cafe is the concept of BENCH/TO (bento). Well not really new, as when you go to food courts or even carinderia, you'll often find stalls offering meals with 2 viands, rice, and soup. But what really made it different is that you enjoy it in a restaurant/cafe set up.

There are 10 BENCH/TO options with fixed combination of meat, vegetable dish, and rice. Rice can be upgraded to Garlic Rice, Bagoong Rice, Dilis Rice, or Talangka Rice. You may also add-on the Soup of the Day (Tinola, Molo Soup, or Monggo).

BENCH/TO 3 (319Php)
Dancing Fish, Gising Gising, Bench Salsa, Atsara, Ifugao Rice

BENCH/TO 7 (399Php)
Salted Egg Fried Chicken, Pinaputok na Bangus Belly, Tortang Talong, Bench Salsa, Atsara, Ifugao Rice 

Hipon sa Talangka, Honey Patis Chicken, Gising Gising, Bench Salsa, Atsara, Ifugao Rice 

Beef Kaldereta, Inasal Liempo, Pinakbet, Bench Salsa, Atsara, Ifugao Rice 

BENCH/TO 10 (439Php)
US Angus Short Ribs Bistek, Inihaw na Pusit, Gising Gising, Bench Salsa, Atsara, Ifugao Rice 

I had Bagoong Rice which I find it too salty. My mistake of mixing all the topped bagoong with the cup of rice. So don't make the same mistake and try the rice first and just mix in bagoong according to your liking.

I love the Pinakbet that I wish the serving is bigger, or that they have ala carte version of it. Coconut milk is creamy and the vegetables have the right crunch and texture that I finished everything! Come to think of it, I'm not even a veggie lover!

I've randomly tried the mains and here are my favorites:
The infused flavors in the Bangus Belly wrapped in foil provides delectable aroma and flavor.
I'm pretty sure I've tried Kare-Kare Bagnet though I didn't find it in the menu. The crunch and the taste of the bagnet are really something to long for.
Seafood lovers, go for the Grilled Squid! Tender, smoky, and well-marinated. Instant favorite!
Beef Kaldereta has classic flavors. If you want to stay traditional and true to its taste, this will be a good option.

Tinola (119Php)
Classic ginger broth with chicken, green papaya, and malunggay 

I opted for an additional soup and at that time, Tinola is their Soup of the Day. No complaints as it captures a home-cooked/Mom-cooked essence. Homey that gives a warm and comforting feeling. I love their soothing and well-flavored Tinola!

Otap Sesame Tsoknut (160Php)
Otap Sesame Tsoknut 

All the Special Beverages are pretty interesting and worth a try. But my mood landed on Otap Sesame Tsoknut, which pretty much describes the ingredients in it. It's the first time I've seen otap being used in a drink and I didn't know how go about it. Well, I just stirred everything in and drank, but then I realized I wasn't able to enjoy the otap as it got soaked. The sesame and tsoknut tastes are very noticeable on a semi-thick but creamy milk shake.
Otap Sesame Tsoknut Ube Halo-halo 

Ube Halo-halo (149Php)
Ube bingsu with macapuno, garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, nata de coco, and coconut ice cream 
Ube Halo-halo 

Ube Halo-halo has this bingsu-textured ube-flavored ice which makes it different from the usual halo-halo. Combined with ice cream, the ube taste gets more obvious but doesn't taste sweet. The halo-halo sources its sugary dose from the fruits and other ingredients in it such as leche flan, macapuno, and nata de coco.
Ube Halo-halo Flan B 

Flan B (185Php)
Baked caramelized custard with macapuno 
Flan B 

Among the desserts, my heart goes to Flan B. I admit I judged it at first that's why I had ube halo-halo. I was thinking, leche flan is leche flan, what can be special with it. But after trying my first slice, wow, heavenly! Simple and imperfect it may seem, this leche flan left a very good impression on me. Smooth and creamy that you can feel it melting in your mouth. Just the right level of sweetness that makes me want for more. Oh, and there's macapuno, which another thing I love about this dessert.
Special Beverages 

I know I can be biased with Chef Carlo Miguel as I've met him in Draft and The Brewery before and I just love his creations! The dishes here at the Bench Cafe gave the same comforting and satisfying feel. What's good is that for a restaurant lying in the heart of Bonifacio Global City, the prices are affordable and reasonable. For less than Php200, you can be tummy-filled and fulfilled with various selections from All Day Merienda (eg. Pancit Guisado - Php139, Street Food Platter - Php149) or Silog. BENCH/TO ranges from Php239 to Php439, but note that those in the latter part of spectrum already contain two main dishes (versus one main), veggie, and rice.

So "Love Local", visit Bench Cafe starting January 25, 2018!

Bench Cafe
Bench Flagship Store, 9th Avenue Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Bench Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Disclaimer: I was invited as a blogger to feature this restaurant. I did not pay anything. Pictures with my watermark are mine.