In Manila, one of the popular places to visit is the Presidential Museum and Library in the Malacañan Palace, which affords one a glimpse of Philippine political history. To enter though, one must fill out a reservation form and wait for seven working days before being able to visit the museum. Foreign visitors must include a photocopy of his or her passport’s main page.
Casa Roces, which sits just across the historic seat of authority and government of the country, offers a Malacañan tour package, which includes a tour of the museum, a souvenir to commemorate the tour and an introduction to Filipino cuisine through breakfast and merienda sets special only for the package. Additionally, the ancestral house transformed into a finest-dining restaurant offers convenience. One has to book for a tour, and Casa Roces will arrange for the permit. So far, it is only Casa Roces that is granted this special privilege, beating other hotels and restaurants in Manila.
Aside from the tour, one can look out for Casa Roces’s offerings, a mixture of Spanish, American and Filipino dishes which is said to “recall the milieu and flavors of the colonial and Commonwealth era.”
Three sets of breakfast — if the tour is in the morning — or merienda — if in the afternoon — are available to choose from.
For breakfast, there is a set called Ode to Quezon, a tribute to the first Filipino president who lived in Malacañan Palace. Highlighting a Western-style breakfast, the set has bacon crisps, sautéed sausages, Spanish omelet, pancakes or toast, garden salad, and a medley of fresh fruits.
Those who prefer Filipino breakfast can choose P-Noy’s Power Brunch, named after the current president, who is said to be a regular patron of the restaurant. It includes beef tapa, crispy danggit, Filipino omelet, garlic rice or pandesal, grilled eggplant salad and sliced local fruits..
Those with a hefty appetite can pick the Maharlika Platter, a mixture of Filipino and Western flavors and ingredients, which include Tuguegarao longganisa, corned beef hash, vegetable omelet, plain rice or toast, breakfast salad and assorted fruits.
Afternoon visitors will get the merienda sets: the Escolta Siesta, Ilustrado Comfort and Ilocandia Flair.
Escolta Siesta is named after the historic commercial district beside the Pasig River. The set includes kaldereta turnover, pancit palabok, tuna sandwich, potato crisps and revel bar. On the other hand Ilustrado Comfort is said to recall the Western fare of Filipino intellectuals in Spain during the colonial period. One gets a tuna turnover, spaghetti Bolognese, chicken salad sandwich, sour cream and onion potato chips and chocolate brownies.
As the name suggests, Ilocandia Flair culls from the best of northern Philippines. It includes spicy longganisa, empanadita from Ilocos Sur, pancit bam-i, ham and egg sandwich, kamote chips and butterscotch bars.
All sets come with a choice of coffee or tea.
Casa Roces is itself an interesting destination with a piece of history. It is Commonwealth-era house of the Roceses, a prominent family which includes newspaper publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces, National Artist for Literature Alejandro Roces, and artist and critic Alfredo Roces. Present owners Peachy Prieto and her daughter Bianca Prieto-Santos decided to renovate the house and open it to the public as a restaurant. They approached the Cravings Group of Restaurants for the food and kitchen operations. The restaurant features food enjoyed by the Roces family as well as heirloom recipes. The ground floor houses the restaurant and Kape Chino, while the second floor has the art gallery and function rooms or private dining rooms named after publications that the Roceses had managed — The Manila Times, Liwayway, The Tribune, and Daily Mirror.
Casa Roces is fast becoming a dining destination in the city with bestselling dishes such as Crispy Lengua Caesar Salad, greens with cubed ox tongue fried to a crisp and mixed in like croutons, and chorizos en balsamico, fried Spanish sausages drizzled with balsamic syrup.
Call Casa Roces at 735-5896 or 488-1929 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Casa Roces is at 1153 J.P. Laurel corner Aguado St., San Miguel, Manila, near Malacañan Palace Gate 4. Visit Web site www.casaroces.com or their Facebook page (facebook.com/casarocesphils).