On the morning of our departure, I decided to take my Mom out for lunch to a place that has been receiving great reviews all over the web. I have stumbled upon Ilustrado Restaurant via Instagram long before our staycation at Bayleaf Hotel. And as I was checking my Zomato app, I saw that it has a 1 + 1 on Food for Gold members. Great. Quality lunch for less is the best thing we can have before leaving.
Ilustrado Restaurant is reachable via riding a pedicab or a kalesa. I am not a fan of riding horse carriages, so I opt to choose the pedicab. The restaurant is inside this enormous wooden infrastructure. We walk a few steps before reaching its doorstep. A sign that reads Ilustrado stands on its right. We hesitantly push the doors open.
The interior has a hallway that has the reception area, restroom and a wooden bench for waiting customers. On the left is a passage to the main hall that has tables and chairs arranged properly. It has history written all over it—from the way it is situated strategically near Intramuros’ landmarks to how the interior is laid out.
The waiter leads us to the table by the window. I immediately loved the location. I love a place where there’s sunlight creeping in. It definitely adds magic to the whole dining experience.
My Mom asks the waiter about their recommended food for first-time visitors, like us. And the waiter initially said Bagnet, which we already had yesterday.
I end up ordering kambing caldereta while my Mom will be having Bonoan bangus relleno. And for dessert, with consensus, we order a slice of blueberry cheesecake.
First of, kambing caldereta has never tasted this good in my book. It is so amazing to watch the meat getting cut off in pieces, without even forcing the knife into it. Plus the sauce is so savory, even my Mom, took some for her plate. It is amply sweet and there’s a little hint of spice here and there. The bell pepper, potato cubes and onions are crunchy which gives the food a bit more of a contrast from the tenderness of the meat. All-in-all, a very superb dish!
The Bonoan bangus relleno is served in five cuts. It is so meaty and tender, we ended up taking 2 each and sliced the biggest piece in half. The meat has already a sugary taste to it but the sweet sauce elevated it. On the side is a relish that serves as a palate cleanser whenever you need to neutralize the saccharine off of your tastebuds.
To cap things off, we will be having the blueberry cheesecake—our dolce vita. Every cake is a masterpiece. It is still astonishing every single time I see the syrup dripping slowly on the edges like it’s a thick watercolor on a canvas. How it shines even in an inadequately lit corner of the room still baffles me. There’s something so eye-catching to desserts. And the taste is so indulgent, too. The cheesecake is rich, smooth and creamy. Describing it just makes me miss it so much.
After having these luscious meals, I finally get the rave. It is honestly and easily one of the best Filipino-influenced restaurant that I have been to. And my Mom agreed. The way the food are meticulously plated and how laidback the ambiance is, make Ilustrado Restaurant so lovable. I can see it as a go-to Sunday brunch or lunch restaurant for all families. If only I live near Intramuros then it will be a lot more convenient to come in more frequently.
I don’t know how hard could I emphasize my desire for you, my dear readers, to try it out when you are in Intramuros. It surely is worth checking out for.