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Who’s your Papa? |


Who’s your Papa?

Ricardo T. Pamintuan - The Philippine Star
Whoâs your Papa?
Meat Platter: Frankfurters, Cumberland, pork belly, grilled corn and fries.
STAR / File

Even before we left our home in Molino on Saturday morning, I was praying — not too hard, if I may add — for three things: no traffic, no rain, and no volcanic activity. It’s not difficult to guess our destination, that is, Tagaytay.

Traffic was tolerable, PAG-ASA was spot-on in its cloudy forecast, and Taal behaved properly after giving everyone a scare a few weeks back with its spewing of ash that even covered Metro Manila in “vog.” Answered prayers on a warm, humid day. I forgot to mention my fourth plea, more like a yearning, for I had done my research: I was really looking forward to enjoying the food and the beer of Papa Bolo.

Takoyaki Kernels, ordinary buttered corn made extraordinary.

Its webpage  proudly declares that “Papa Bolo is a ridge-side brewpub in Tagaytay City offering locally produced craft beer paired with great grub!”

We arrived there a few minutes before its noon opening time. The first thing that hit me was the size of the place. Nestled just across the Sky Ranch, the three-story glass-and-steel building looked more like a showroom than a resto-bar. As you enter, all these wide spaces greet you: the window tables are individual nooks that resemble stacked oak barrels that turn into Hobbit rooms once occupied; the brewery lies opposite the dining area.

The Bacon Poutine was expectedly decadent.

After spending around an hour and a half on the road, it was nice to have a sampling of their beer. The welcome treat included small glasses of Barkada Bliss, Cowboy Classic, True Brew, and Piña Niña. Our German friend enjoyed most of them, something that made our tour guide Arnel smile throughout his pre-meal demonstration. Yes, there is a tour where you can again sample their beer straight from one of several vats.

After explaining their brewing process, Arnel also showed us the basement where they store sacks of malt from Germany (their only imported ingredient) in a room he called New York. Hops, live yeast, and aluminum beer barrels were kept in much colder Canada. Some of the barrels connect directly to tubes that pump beer up to the bar taps on the ground floor.

While waiting for the food to arrive, you can while the time at the second-floor game room where they have a couple of arcade game machines, and a foosball and beer pong table.

Papa Bolo’s food did not disappoint. We started off with the New England Chowder, good enough for two, especially with the seared bread bowl you can consume in its entirety. The Bacon Poutine, probably one of the favorite sides of brewer Mike Wayne, was expectedly decadent, especially with its gravy to die for (some would say to die of). While satisfied with the Streetfood Platter, consisting of lobster, cuttlefish and cheese burst balls, kwek kwek, and kikiam, this street-food connoisseur found it a bit pricey.

Wagyu Skewers, tender choco-glazed wagyu cubes served on fried enoki mushrooms, paired well with Takoyaki Kernels, ordinary buttered corn kernels made extraordinary by a generous topping of Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, nori and mozzarella.

Meat lovers will surely enjoy Papa Bolo’s signature dishes. Goto Bulalo (because when you’re in Tagaytay, you must have bulalo) had generous cuts of beef tripe with the marrow set aside for those healthy enough to enjoy it.  We made the mistake of ordering two Meat Platters; a plate already had frankfurter, Cumberland, pork belly, grilled corn and fries with their “magic dip” and honey mustard. But for me, the winner dish was Pata Bolo, their version of the ever-popular crispy pata with tamarind, garlic, and herbs. I even had leftovers for lunch the following day.

For some semblance of a balanced meal, we also had Leaf Bowls, cabbage cups filled with plant-based meat, string beans and peanut sauce. Alas, by the end of our two-hour meal, we were so stuffed that dessert had to be skipped, at least until we had our coffee later at the Ruined Project. But that’s a story for another time.

There are a few things you can say about Papa Bolo: it’s in cool Tagaytay, ideal for road trips and enjoying beer with friends, especially at night, and the food is not your typical pulutan, so it can certainly also be appreciated by family groups. The service is great, and you can see that the crew enjoys working there. Most of all, Papa Bolo, which was founded by Cavite Representative Aniela Bianca D. Tolentino, supports the local community. At first, they used pineapples, for which Tagaytay is known — tons of it — to create a unique beer blend. Later they sourced most of their ingredients from local sellers and producers.

Papa Bolo declares that “People are at the core of our brand, and our community is the reason why we do what we do.” It’s a mission statement I’d subscribe to anytime.

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