I had the opportunity of dining in Barbara’s restaurant at Intramuros Manila last Saturday and it was honestly quite amazing. When I got off the cab, there were guardiya sibils. These men are known to be the police force back in the Spanish Colonial Era here in the Philippines. The ambiance upon entering the place made me feel like I traveled back in time when Dr. Jose Rizal still used to walk the roads of Manila or then known as the “Open City”. There were antique furniture like chairs, mirrors, pictures and chandeliers; surprisingly they don’t look worn out, they appeared to be well maintained and still of a fine dining restaurant quality.
I went to the second floor to join other guests at the “Main Dining ” area where Barbara’s can accommodate about one hundred to one hundred twenty people all at the same time. After entering the glass door, it felt magical. The entire restaurant is designed for fine dining, tables were draped with layers, the silverware, porcelain wares and the glass wares are arranged like in a five star hotel. I felt like I was an ilustrado who have so much money to pay for an expensive dinner. Just about around seven when I started to get food form the buffet since they smelled so good and enticing. The menu that night were some of my favorite Filipino dishes like laing, caldereta, adobong baboy, pancit malabon, inihaw na pla-pla, inihaw na manok, paella at lumpiang ubod.
There was a green mango salad corner paired with different Filipino sauces like bagoong. Just remembering about it makes my mouth watery. My favorite among the dishes was the laing. It was so delicious that I have been thinking about it from Saturday til this very moment. My mother is Bicolana so I know how a good laing tastes like but this one just rises above them all. There was no trace of bitterness, all of pleasure and yumminess. My second most favorite dish had to be two; the adobong baboy and beef caldereta. They were a revelation that these common viands can actually be cooked in a whole lot way better than what we Filipinos have been eating for a long while now. The meat was so tender and the sauce was just sinfully good. I had to make second trips to the buffet table because one was really not enough. The paella is a dish passed onto us by the Spanish people, yet with time we have made it taste like its one of our own. It was flavorful, the seafood complemented the rice filled with broth that has penetrated every single grain of rice, every spoonful was so delightful. After stiffing myself with all these, I know had to cap it off with dessert. I have tasted a lot of buko pandan salads from different restaurants but the one in Barbara’s made me feel that I have been wronged of how it should taste and now salvaged from my naivety. There were fruits topped with a spongy like cake similar to that of a brazo de mercedes with a crunchy caramel glaze on top. Also, crunchy turonillas were served along with a rich bowl of ginataang bilo-bilo. That night was my moment of re-discovering why Filipinos love to eat–that’s because we also love to cook and we do very good. I know I would come back and reminisce my first visit in Barbara’s, it was nothing but pure pleasure.
The amazing dishes were the highlight of the evening but the cultural dances and the rondalla playing classical Filipino and contemporary music were the cherries on top. It made the entire experience true to its name, “Kultura Filipina”- it was nothing short of magical.
For Reservations & Catering services please call: 527-3893 or 527-4086
Instagram : @barbaras_restaurant