A day before Lorraine left for Australia, we met again in BGC. Indeed, time will never be enough for good friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. She is the type of friend that doesn’t need any grand attention nor superfluous celebration, that things easily fall into place even in the simplest gestures.
Choosing a date place was easy. It was late afternoon when I was looking for light snacks after work. We passed by Bench in Bonifacio Highstreet and noticed the big menu signage of Bench Cafe outside. I’ve been wanting to try it before when I was walking alone in Highstreet but always hesitated. Now that I had a friend with me, it was the perfect time to try Bench Cafe.
Bench Cafe is located on the second floor of the flagship store. I grew up recognizing Bench as the leading provider of basic merchandise, such as clothes, shoes, toiletries, scents, and even home accessories. You’d associate it to anything casual and practical. But visiting the restaurant is another story — it reveals Bench’s more refined, dainty side as seen in the artistic taste of Bench cafe’s interiors.
The color palette is easy to the eyes — pastel colors and subdued shades of black and white was visually appealing. Basic ornaments such as bottles and chandeliers were designed to be chic accents to the elegance of the cafe. The unique chandeliers hanging at the grand staircase are even noteworthy to look at.
I’ve heard good things about Bench cafe’s menu, highlighting Filipino food with a modern twist. Halo halo and Pancit were among those mentioned as commendable, but we tried Arrozcaldo, Palabok, and Kesong Puti Sandwich.
Bench’s take on Arrozcaldo is no non-sense. Served in a pretty plate, the porridge had the right balance of saltiness that you still have room to mix in the condiments such as fish sauce, calamansi, and ginger. It was topped with spring onions, sunny side-up egg, garlic bits, and adobo flakes. The mix of tastes and textures created that exquisite version of Arrozcaldo that is not served in the sidewalk eateries. Kit liked it a lot.
The presentation of Palabok was equally stunning. The toppings were deconstructed compared to the ordinary Palabok where everything is mixed together. You’ll see roast pork, chicharon, egg floss, shrimps, spring onions, and kamias placed at a distance from the sauce and the noodles — making you distinguish and appreciate the ingredients of this festive dish. I somewhat felt it should have a bigger serving though.
Lorraine had the Tatlong Kesong Puti Pandesal, a sandwich of Kesong Puti, tomatoes, egg, and served with Kamote chips. The sandwich was also a delightful merienda, but it tasted bland for me. For Kit and Lorraine, it was just right.
We have seen a number of foreigners dining at the Cafe and it explains that Bench is really known as a reputable global brand. The service was bit slow, considering that there were only a few customers when we dined. It could be that the priority of these servers were the foreigners but I certainly hope it’s not. We only had few orders and we even had to call the attention of the waiter to give us glasses of cold water. The service was a bit disappointing but I hope it can be improved on my next visit.
Bench again proves itself as a innovative brand but this time in the restaurant industry. I’m sure the other Filipino viands are worth trying. Food taste and presentation: they certainly nailed it. I just hope they will be more consistent in good customer service next time.
Second Floor, Bench Flagship Store, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue Corner Lane O, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Phone Number: +63 9177021133
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11 AM to 10 PM
Facebook: Bench Cafe Ph