DUE to the fact that Spanish colonization lasted centuries in the Philippines, Spanish cuisine is perhaps the foreign cuisine that wields the strongest influence on Filipino cuisine. Spanish colonial cuisine—including Cocido and Callos—helped shape Filipino cuisine and develop the palate of the Filipino people and their passion for good food.
This is why Café Enye, which can be found in Eastwood City, has decided to serve Spanish colonial cuisine. Its symbol, “ñ,” is a special letter found in the Spanish alphabet and is a dead giveaway to the kind of food it serves. But since purely Spanish colonial cuisine is looked upon by today’s young generation as old and dated, Café Enye’s dynamic kitchen team has put creative twists into its food.
The dishes on the menu are basically Spanish, with a sprinkling of dishes originating from Northern Morocco, Argentina, Central America and the Philippines—places where Spaniards have settled. But the dishes have evolved into complex ones which offer familiar tastes but at the same time something innovative and new, infused with local flair.
Open from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily, Café Enye starts the day with breakfast fares, offering Paella Brunch Plates (Php215), with a choice of House-cured Beef Tapa, Homemade Daing na Bangus, Handcrafted Garlicky Longganisa, and Homemade Corned Beef. It is served in a paellera with egg and rice, topped with pickled vegetables, salsa, and crispy fried anchovies.
It is, however, the main menu that best represents the complex Spanish colonial cuisine that Café Enye offers. Think Enye Callos Buns (Php135 for 3 pieces), which is classic Callos (ox tripes in tomato-based sauce) wrapped in a round bun that’s crispy on the outside but soft and delightfully fresh on the inside.
Café Enye also serves Callos ala Casa (Php440), which is a whole platter of Callos with chickpeas, olives, meat and bell pepper, served with rice. The Callos is slow-cooked for six hours, sous vide style, so when diners take a biteful, it melts in the mouth in tenderness and the flavor bursts free.
Also think Gambas, Enye Style (Php350), an appetizer loaded with garlic, herbs and condiments and served with roasted garlic.
Bacalao is a key ingredient in Spanish cooking, and it is accounted for at Café Enye, but not in the usual Bacalao ala Vizcaina form but in Bacalao Puttanesca (Php275), a unique pasta dish; Bacalao Mantecado (Php245); and Eggplant & Bacalao Sauté (Php225).
Among the salads, Caesar Salad Mojo Chicken Breast (Php250) is a must-try. It is a combination of half a grilled Romaine lettuce and a bed of curly lettuce topped with slices of red radish and carrots, croutons and grilled chicken breast, served with Caesar salad dressing.
The restaurant also offers three kinds of skewers—Fish Mojo Skewers (Php380), Grilled Pork Skewers (Php360), and Chicken Mojo Skewers (Php330).
For diners with a big appetite, a good choice would be Enye Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables (Php490), served with rice and fried root vegetables. The mojo spiced chicken is brined, so that when it is roasted, it ends up crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.
Then there are sandwiches for light eaters. The top favorite happens to be Mahi-Mahi Cubano (Php290), a fish and cheese grilled panini sandwich served with thick-cut fries. The bread for this sandwich and for the four other sandwiches on the menu are baked in-house.
For dessert, Café Enye offers two choices—Crema Catalana (Php185) and Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Cream (Php170). Creme Catalana is the Spanish version of Leche Flan but the surface is torched like Crème Brulee and topped with fresh fruits. As for the Chouxros with Dulce de Leche Crème, it is like Churros but is made with pate choux so it is lighter and fluffier, and is served with red egg dulce de leche and choco peanut butter dips.
To wash it all down, the hands-down choice of a beverage is Kamias Shake. Yes, kamias! It’s sour, but when you make it into shake, it has a tangy appeal much like green mango and makes an excellent, refreshing drink.
Café Enye serves all these in a casual environment designed by Arch. Alan Casas to provide nooks for power meetings and comfortable casual spaces for gatherings with friends. The interiors have a hint of Spanish with modern touches of a Filipino lifestyle, as the main dining room is accented with thoughtful details such as hand-painted scripts by popular calligraphist Alexis Ventura and the Floral Woman oil painting mural executed by Japanese artist Akane Watanabe.
Aside from the main dining room, Café Enye has a large al fresco area adjacent to the bar and a function room that can accommodate 25 persons. The operable stained glass walls can open up the space to the al fresco and main dining areas.
(Café Enye is located at the ground floor of Eastwood Excelsior, 116 Eastwood Ave., Bagumbayan, Quezon City; with telephone number 671-3230.)