Monday, February 24, 2014

Sexy Comfort Food at Borgo Café in BF Homes Parañaque

While the flourishing foodies of the north have their gems at Teacher's Village, the foodies down south have the ever-growing restaurant scene in BF Homes Parañaque to be proud of. Every so often, Jericho and I like to hop in the car and head on over to the humongous subdivision, perusing the long street that is Aguirre Avenue for the latest café, bistro, tuck shop, or balls out restaurant that we had yet to try.

We try to mix it up every time we venture out there, as there really are a lot to choose from - from quaint little bakeries to the more established watering holes. There's always something for everybody! Lately, we discovered Borgo Café, a restaurant that serves comfort food with a very healthy twist. This hole-in-the-wall has great promise and is definitely one of the few along the strip that we'll keep coming back to!

Read more on restaurants in BF Homes Parañaque:
Ritchie's Diner: Classic American Favorites at BF Homes Parañaque
Mediterranean Made Simple: Sophia's Cusina at BF Homes Parañaque
Super Cheap Korean BBQ at Chang Teo
Dim Sum Delights at BF Homes Parañaque's Mandarin Palace
Don Limone at BF Homes Parañaque

If you're coming from Southville International School, Borgo Café (Italian for borough) should be on your left-hand side before you hit the Presentation of Child Jesus Church. Like most of the Aguirre Avenue restaurants, this was once a home that has now been converted to a commercial space. And like most of the other restaurants along this popular foodie strip, parking can be such a bitch! Jericho and I went there early, to make the most of the light for the food shoot, and so we could still get a parking slot before the place filled up.

The staff is quite attentive and they all have their own favorites on the menu, so if you don't feel like going through the list, just ask them what they'd recommend. The chef is classically trained, so there's no half-assed microwaved crap coming out of the kitchen in this restaurant. That's triple pogi points in our book!

Our early dinner started with a bowl of Tomato & Celery Soup (P115). I love how the soup had a smoky taste to it, as if the ripe tomatoes were charred before being peeled and chopped in the soup. Served with a wafer of bacon, I appreciate the little details like these that can make a simple starter really stand out.

The only fried item we ordered was the Calamari Fritos (P99). These are supposed to be served tapas style, preferably with a glass of wine and long, intellectually-seeming conversation. The deep-fried squid rings are served with your choice of garlic aioli or pomodoro. We tried both, but I think the pomodoro would've been better if it were swapped out with a spicy marinara dip instead. These were pretty ok overall, then again, you can only do so much with fried calamari.

The Octopus & Mango Salad (P239) was huge! Seriously, it was a great hulking plate of grilled octopus slivers, slices of smoked salmon, what I think has to be a whole head of green leaf lettuce, and lots and lots of fresh ripe mango chunks. Lots! For someone who has constantly been complaining about not getting enough fruit in her diet (i.e. me), this probably counted as 2 out of my 5 a Day.

This was really pretty to look at, too, in all shades of green, purple, pink, salmon, and yellow - and that huge serving was just under P240! I was really, really chuffed to be eating that for dinner. In fact, I could be as happy as anything with just the soup, salad, and dessert!

Trying out some of Borgo's meatier dishes on the menu, we had their Short Ribs Caldereta (P399). Their take on the Filipino-Spanish inspired stew was actually a bit sweet (in a good way!) with slivers of chorizo, button mushrooms, bell peppers, and olives bathing in the thick, red sauce. I have never really been one for Filipino food as I find most of it to be quite oily or salty (or both), but I took a shining to this dish, flaking the meat off the litid and rolling it around in the sauce before taking a nibble.

Jericho, ever the champion of Pinoy breakfast food, just had to try the Premium Tapsiolog (P175) made with Angus trimmings, garlic rice and two eggs done sunny side up. This actually looked really good, putting most of it's neighboring tapsihan places to shame, but I was too full up on mangoes to try this.

Another all-day breakfast favorite is Borgo's Angus Salpicado (P299) - bite-sized chunks of USDA beef sautéed with garlic, button mushrooms, bell peppers and an olive brown sauce with a few chilis thrown into the mix for a some heat with rice pilaf that's been tossed in all the lovely-jubbly salpicao drippings. I like how the green leaf lettuce makes its appearance once again, tossed in a honey-balsamic vinaigrette, to cut through the richness of the salpicao.

If you like lengua but are not a big fan of ox tongue, like I am, try the Kali (P299) - beef "kalitiran" braised in mushrooms and olive brown sauce served on top of a potato mash, with green leaves of lettuce on the side.

After my stomach finally started to digest all the leafy greens and fruit I had had, we gave one of Borgo's newest creations a go. The Steak & Ink was composed of garlic and anchovy-marinated USDA Angus steak with a side of  homemade Chimichurri served over squid ink risotto. There was no need for the Chimicurri, to be quite frank, as the hanger steak was seasoned quite nicely, although I found the risotto to be a tad too goopy for my taste. Risotto, at least in my opinion, should be easily scooped up with a fork without it attempting to slip and slide off. It was still pretty good, my inky teeth aside.

Borgo's best-seller is their Butcher's Steak (P299), and I can see why. For a little under P300, you get a generous strip of U.S. Angus beef hanging tender sitting atop a bed of mashed potatoes, more dressed lettuce, and some peppered brown sauce on the side. If you ordered a few other dishes like we did, this is great to share, too. The preparation of the steak is very Tuscan - simply seasoned and put together for you to taste the actual flavor of each ingredient. Ah, this would pair really well with a bottle of Riesling!

If you go to Borgo with your friends or your family in tow, definitely get the Arroz Mixto (P399) - The small llanera holds the Paella-style rice dish topped with eggs, clams, mussels, and calamari, and should fill up four hungry bellies nicely.

Omg, dessert! I cannot stop gushing about Borgo's amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing Strawberry Cheesecake (P190)! This is so bawse and it isn't even on the menu yet! The rustic homemade gâteau is made with four (count 'em!) kinds of cheeses and topped with sliced strawberries from America. I'm guessing, Driscols? Each bite was sweet, tangy, cheesy, and salty all at the same time. I love, love, love, love this! If you can only order one thing here, for the love of everything holy, make it the Strawberry Cheesecake!

Lastly, to quell my chocolate cravings, we had the Choco Lava with Seasalt (P165) - a molten chocolate cake with chili syrup and sea salt paired with simple vanilla ice cream with caramel. I couldn't taste the chili syrup, but the sea salt did tie the chocolate, vanilla, and caramel drizzle in, nicely.

When listlessly roaming around BF Homes Parañaque, looking for a place to get in more than just a bite to eat, look out for Borgo Café along Aguirre Avenue. A hole-in-the-wall that serves restaurant-worthy dishes at a pocket-friendly price, I don't think I can keep this place a secret much longer as I think people are definitely going to come a knockin' once word of that damn good cheesecake starts going around.

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Borgo Café
+63 2 478 2509
312 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes,
Open Daily: 7:30am - 10:30pm