Bacolod restaurant serves
family-style meals amidst the
charm of an ancestral home.
I am one person who is a sucker for the Old World charm of ancestral homes and family-cooked meals. I imagine the lives of the people back then, how simple and laid back, so relaxed, but complete with luxuries and amenities that money could buy and technology could keep up with. If I believed in reincarnation, I would probably think that I have an old soul.
That is why I am so drawn to Balay Gastronomica–a new Bacolod restaurant serving family-style meals. Located at 13th-Lacson Streets, Bacolod City, Philippines, it is really a balay, which is Hiligaynon for a house. I am not sure how old the house is, as it has new owners, but it is an old house with high ceilings and lots of wooden touches and wood carvings. There is a mini staircase made of hard wood that leads to the second floor, but right now, it is not being utilized for the restaurant. It is a nice area for a group photo though.
The main dining area, as I imagine could have been the family’s living room back then. It is spacious and has probably seen so many parties back in its heydays. Moving inside, there is a porch-like structure for garden dining settings but it is covered so as to protect everyone from the elements. It is a nice area for a small function. It is breezy and cool out here–nice to unwind after a long day.
Food at Balay Gastronomica
Okay, enough gushing about the place. Let’s go to the food. Their menu is like the old meets new. The owner wanted to be able to prepare dishes that she loved to eat while she was growing up, so that she can share it with everyone. While she may not be a trained chef, being a foodie herself and years of experience in the kitchen and cooking for her family has enabled her to whip up some great recipes that she has kept to this day. Meanwhile, her son has been educated in Enderun Colleges in Manila and who has subsequently underwent further training in the United States. So, he has also brought some of her techniques and flair to their menu.
I describe their food as family-style because they do have family origins. Plus the servings are big that they are good for sharing. If you will order more than one dish, one kind could feed up to four people. Among their bestsellers that we tried are Filleto, Chicken with Pesto Sauce, Baby Back Ribs, and their Gastronomica thin crust special pizza–just for the four of us. We were not able to finish everything. Next time, I wanna try their pasta.
The filleto is very tender and flavorful, with nice marbling because they use deboned Angus rib-eye steak. The chicken with pesto sauce is pan-fried chicken fillet and smothered in a luscious pesto cream made with fresh basil leaves. You will really appreciate the sweetness and aroma of fresh basil. For the baby back ribs, do not expect it to be saucy, just like the usual back ribs that we have around the city. Theirs is a really big slab that could be shared by three or four persons. It has a crusty top and has fall-off-the-bone goodness. Some people like squeezing lemon juice on the meat. I have to tell you though that you have to enjoy your pizza immediately. I had to take photos so the crust wasn’t crispy anymore when I ate it. It was perfect with the special chili oil called Sosi by Peace Pond. It further enhanced the flavor and aroma of the pizza. I am in love with the Peace Pond Sosi chili oil, which is made in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental. I can’t wait for Balay Gastronomica to start selling it here in Bacolod. haha
Advantages of Balay Gastronomica
Balay Gastronomica is very near Lacson Street but it is quite far enough to give it some privacy. It has some parking spaces but if you don’t have a car, you can always take the tricycle from Lacson Street or a trisikad from the Shopping area. And oh, I would just like to mention that they use olive oil for practically anything that needs oil.
They are open all day for lunch and dinner, except Mondays. Aside from dine in, Balay Gastronomica is open to serve small to medium functions. They also have CATERING SERVICES for up to 100 persons. The owners of Balay Gastronomica are also behind the yummy fresh breads of Breadlane. They accept orders for their breads for special occasions and soon they will display the breads at the restaurant as well.
When you go to Balay Gastronomica, expect home-style service as well. They have courteous waiters, but they are not uniformed, like you would in a formal restaurant. But they will serve you well. The restaurant is well-ventilated but not air conditioned. They are still planning to put up a smaller air conditioned area.