Bench Cafe finally opened in Trinoma, and it’s now closer than ever. I was so excited with this news because their Cafes in BGC and Greenbelt have always been jam-packed, making it a little hard for my North friends to visit. Bench has been making waves in Filipino fashion for over 32 years and two years ago, they reintroduced Filipino cuisine to everyone. If there’s one way to describe their food, it’s cozy yet elegant at the same time.
I love Bench Cafe’s fusion of retro and Filipino design. The floor transitions from fun black and white patterned tiles to classic wooden flooring. The cafe is clean and bright, complimented by green and wood accents. There are also stained glass partitions that give a cool and breezy feel. It kind of reminds me of a beach house.
The staff was very kind and they all carried a pleasant and approachable demeanor. The food also came within a reasonable period of time. Enough time to have a quick catch up with friends, but not so much time that our tummies were growling and wondering when the food will arrive.
We started with the Binagoongan Ceasar with Dilis Salad (P149). It’s Filipino caesar salad using local flavors: romaine lettuce with dilis and croutons in creamy bagoong and queso de bola dressing. We also had Sisig Lettuce Cups (P239), which are crispy pork sisig cradled inside lettuce leaves. The lettuce gives a balanced and fresh taste to the pork sisig. And of course we had to have Tinapa Cones (P129). These crispy lumpia cones piped with tinapa mousse and salsa are so cute—they’re all standing up in a tray.
We also got another Bench Cafe favorite: Pork Barbecue Skewers (P189), which are 24 hour sous vide BBQ pork belly with homemade atsara and Bench salsa. We also had Sisig Pancit (P179). The dish is a savory festival of flavor: I thought both sisig and pancit went well together.
Another highly recommended dish was Bongalmusal Silog (P319), which we got to try too. It lived up to its name; the plate was overflowing with Filipino breakfast staples and can serve two people. You’ll get Spam, US Beef Tapa, Tocino, Daing and Corned Beef over garlic rice. It’s topped with fried egg, roasted tomatoes and homemade atsara. “Bonga,” right?
We also had two Bench+TO’s, which recreates the “Turo-Turo” experience in a bento tray. It comes with vegetable, Bench salsa, atsara and white rice. The first Bench+TO was Inasal Liempo (P299), which was tender and seasoned well. The second Bench+TO was Bagnet Kare-Kare (P339). The bagnet was crispy and rested on a bed of vegetables and peanut sauce.
To finish the main course, we had Dancing Fish or Crispy Butterfly Tilapia (P350) and Sisig Skillet (P249). You can choose three sauces for the Dancing Fish: Escabeche, Bench Salsa, or Serwelas. I recommend the Escabeche, it goes really well with the crispy fried tilapia. The Sisig Skillet, described as pork mask and belly cooked two ways with calamansi foam, was just the right amount of savory and tangy. Take note that both dishes are good for 2-3 people already.
Last but not the least, we had classic Filipino desserts. First was Flan B (P155), which is a “B” shaped leche flan. I thought it was a little too sweet. But I really liked the Turon with Ube Ice Cream (P89). It wasn’t too sweet or too heavy after a big meal. Finally, we had their famous Halo-halo in all three flavors: White Halo-halo (P119), Ginumis (P139), and Ube Halo-halo (P149). My favorite was the Ube halo-halo. They used finely shaved ice so there weren’t big chunks of shaved ice, just generous heaping of toppings.
Bench Cafe will surely be the go-to place for everyone in the North. Their Filipino dishes are very affordable and delicious. It’s perfect for a quick meryenda after shopping or even a celebration with your loved ones. Any way you have it the Bench Cafe will always give you the best of Filipino flavors that we have all grown to love.
Address: 1st Level, Trinoma Mall, EDSA cor. North Ave., Quezon City
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