December 18, 2018

Bench Café Is Now Open at Greenbelt 3!

BENCH/ began in 1987 as a small store selling men’s t-shirts. Then, it grew at an unparalleled rate becoming the pioneer in the use of celebrity endorsers, television, and giant billboards to propel a fashion brand that offers premium quality products at affordable prices. It is the major homegrown lifestyle brand that is a household name in the Philippines.

A few years back, after its huge success in retail, Bench also ventured out in the food industry with the franchise of Pablo Cheesecake and Marugame. They also launched a restaurant bearing the same iconic brand which also embraces loving our own or aka “love local” which is Bench Café in partnership with FOODEE Global Concepts, the company behind Mesa, Sunnie’s Cafe, Pound et al.

The first branch of Bench Café is located inside the Bench Flagship Store in BGC. And just this Monday, December 17 they have finally opened their second store in Greenbelt 3 in Makati City. I was able to attend the preview of their second branch while it was still close, the weekend before their official opening.

We literally entered through tarp covering/wooden to get inside. Only half of the store is almost finished and was just prepped for the groups of media and bloggers for the Friday and Saturday preview. I haven’t been to the first store but I’ve seen lots of photos of the interiors online and the second store still takes after it. Cozy atmosphere, ambient lighting, plush leather couches, modern seats and tropical wall papers. What’s new with this branch though is their take out counter that will allow customers to buy their snacks including turon, beverages and halo-halo.

As for the menu, part owner Eric Dee of FOODEE Global Concepts, told us that Bench Café stays true to its Filipino roots by serving local dishes but with a twist. He also said that their menu is a glammed up “turo-turo” or “carinderia”. Eric, FOODEE Corporate Executive Chef Carlo Miguel and the Bench Café staff served us with Bench Café’s best sellers and other new dishes:

Tinapa Cornet - homemade Crispy Lumpia Cones filled with Tinapa Mousse and Salsa. This served as our appetizers for that dinner. These were very fun to eat; crunchy with a good tinapa flavor.

B1 Bench/To - Bench/To is Bench Café’s version of the Japanese bento box. These Becnh/To contains resized portions of some of their ala-carte dishes. All Bench/To comes with Bench Salsa, Atsara, and Steamed Ifugao Rice. For this variety, it contains Inasal na Liempo and Ginataang Langka. The rice is upgradable to flavored rice: Garlic Rice, Dilis Rice, Bagoong Rice or Talangka Rice. I love this liempo, not only because of its generous cut but also because of its salty-sweet taste.

Bangus Ala Pobre Bench/To - this is one of the newest Bench/To versions which includes bangus ala pobre with so many toasted garlic (yum!) and Ginataang Langka. I actually wasn’t able to really taste this one since I only asked for a bite from one of my friends. But this sure looks delicious. By the way this will be available ala carte.

Pork BBQ Skewers - 24 hours Sous Vide BBQ Pork Belly with Atsara and Bench Salsa. This had very Pinoy flavors because it was on the sweet side of things and we all know Pinoys love their food to be quite sweet and quite salty.

Gising Gising - string beans and sigarilyas in coconut cream and chopped chilies. This is one of my fave Filipino dish because it is Ilocano. This version of Bench Café was quite spicy for my liking though since I have very low tolerance with spicy food. Nonetheless still a great dish.

Chicken Pork Adobo Sa Gata - chicken and pork stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns with coconut milk. I’ve tried many versions of adobo including this one and I actually like it. Bench Café’s version had a very very bold coconut cream flavor with a great aftertaste and it has so many  toasted garlic that I like in adobo. Although it was quite salty. Maybe it was meant to be eaten with cups of rice after the other.

Dancing Fish - whole butterflied tilapia fish with plum sauce, Bench Café salsa and vinegar. This worked great with the plum sauce.

Beef Caldereta - a classic Filipino tomato beef stew. Caldereta is my second favorite Filipino dish especially the one cooked by my grandma. I liked Bench Café’s version as it tastes so close to the ones I’ve tried and liked. The meat was tender as well. One of my fave dishes that night.

Pinakbet Rice - fried rice topped with pinakbet. Pinakbet is made from mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce. It is also one of my favorite dishes and this rice is already a meal if I can say so myself. This was also everyone's favorite and my one of top dishes. 

Pancit Sisig - stir fried egg noodles topped with sisig. This was surprisingly very good and was easily became everyone’s favorite dish that night. I never knew pancit canton with sisig would go so well together. This was my top one dish during our preview dinner.

Pork Sinigang sa Kamias & Green Apples - Well, sinigang is probably my favorite Filipino dish. I admire Bench Café’s daring take on dish well love Pinoy dish by using kamias and green apples to produce that tangy flavor of the sinigang soup. It’s a fresh take and they were able to achieve a good flavor for the soup. But I couldn’t say this is my favorite sinigang or dish of the night since I like my sinigang super super sour. 

Pancit Longganisa - stir fried egg noodles topped with longganisa bits and veggies. Unlike the pancit sisig this one didn’t won my heart because I am someone who’s not fond of the Tagalog sweet red longganisa. I like the salty and garlicky versions from the north of Luzon.

Just like always, I enjoyed dining at any of FOODEE Global Concepts’ restaurants especially the always warm welcome by our host Eric Dee. I enjoyed that dinner because I was able to share it with people who share the same passion as myself. I was even joking around that we were like a big family having a grand Christmas dinner while eating and bantering back forth on that long table. 

2F, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center,
Makati City
Contact Nos: 0917-7021133

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Bench Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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