Saturday, July 13, 2013

Legazpi Eats: 1st Colonial Grill, Small Talk Café, Bigg's Diner

In Albay, I had two goals: eat Bicolano food and see Mount Mayon. Goal number one? Checked. Three times. Thanks to friends who have been to Albay for suggesting these restaurants.

1st Colonial Grill
G/F Pacific Mall, Landco Business Park, Legazpi City, Albay
(052) 481 1212 / (052) 820 0985

Other branch: Villa Amada Bldg. Rizal St. Daraga, Albay

Objective: Try 1st Colonial Grill's strange flavored ice cream. Strange in that the flavors are not your usual chocolate/strawberry/vanilla variety.

On the table: In addition to three scoops of ice cream (Php 79) of different flavors—tinutung, malunggay, and pili—this hungry man also had lunch of tinutungang manok (Php 239) and tinapa rice (Php 35/cup).

Of all the items on the menu, why these: My lunch choices were thanks to a brochure I picked up at the airport. I heeded its advice—any form of advertising works on me, haha.

Tinutungang manok (left) and tinapa rice (right)

Tinutungang manok is "chicken stewed in coconut cream extracted from slightly scorched coconut milk that infuses a distinct smoky flavor." Tinutung means burnt. Tinutungang manok had bananas which I found unusual but went well with the overall flavor of the dish. Yes, I liked the tinutungang manok though I found it expensive.

I am not sure if the cup of tinapa rice is any different from the platter in terms of taste but the photo on the menu of the platter of tinapa rice had salted egg, green mangoes, and tomatoes, while I couldn't find any of these in my cup(s) of rice. The rice, for me, wasn't any different from other tinapa rice I have tried. My tinutungang manok would have been more compatible with plain rice.

Tinutung na ice cream, malunggay ice cream, and pili ice cream

And the main reason for eating in 1st Colonial Grill: ice cream! There were five flavors to choose from: sili (chili), kalamansi (Philippine lemon), malunggay (moringa), tinutung ("burnt" rice), and pili. Although 1st Colonial Grill is known for its sili ice cream, I skipped this since I have tried it from another ice cream shop (the hotness comes as an aftertaste and yes, it is hot!). I would have wanted to try kalamansi (I like lemon) but my brain chose vegetables, grains, and nuts, over fruits. Malunggay ice cream was alright. Not something I would really crave for. Tinutung na ice cream—imagine burnt rice turned into ice cream. Interesting! But of the three flavors, I liked the pili ice cream best because I like pili nuts. Biased much.

Would I recommend 1st Colonial Grill? Yes. For the ice cream.

51 Doña Aurora St., Legazpi City, Albay
(052) 480 1393 / (052) 437 8708
Daily 11AM to 10PM

Objective: Try the Bicol inspired pasta and pizza.

On the table: A lot! Please see photos below.

Of all the items on the menu, why these: Because of the following keywords: Mayon, Bicol Express, and pili. I should mention that I did not eat all these in one sitting. I liked their affordable food so much that I had to go there again.

Left to right: Pasta Mayon, Bicol Express pasta, Pili basil pasta

Let's talk about the pasta. The descriptions according to Small Talk Café's menu: Pasta Mayon (Php 105) is pinangat/laing stuffed in ravioli pasta with red tuna sauce. Bicol Express pasta (Php 105)—alamang (itty bitty shrimps), sili (chili), gata (coconut milk) sauteed in garlic. And pili basil pasta (Php 120)—garlic, roasted pili nuts, fresh basil.

I couldn't really taste the pinangat/laing of Pasta Mayon. Bicol Express pasta was so spicy it made my eyes water. Even if I had to drink five glasses of their iced tea (thankfully, it's bottomless) to try to keep the tears at bay, I loved it! I liked the pili basil pasta because of the pili nuts! Haha. Again, I'm just biased. Of the three, I liked Bicol Express pasta best, and Pasta Mayon least.

Fiery Mayon stuffed pizza

The Fiery Mayon stuffed pizza (Php 265) is stuffed with laing, Bicol Express, tinutungan na gata (smoked coconut milk), and Guinobatan (a town in Albay) longanisa. A winner!

Rum cake with pili (left) and pili pie (right)

To wash away all the chili, desserts! Rum cake with pili (Php 60) was too buttery for my taste. I could only eat a third of it. I think the pili pie (Php 50) is one of their best sellers... on the basis that on my first visit, they had run out of stock.

Would I recommend Small Talk Café? Yes! Good food that's affordable. Appetizers start from Php 65; snacks from Php 45; pasta from Php 95; pizza from Php 215; vegetables from Php 45; chicken/beef/pork/seafood from Php 115; desserts from Php 22; and drinks from Php15.

Embarcadero de Legazpi, Legazpi City, Albay
See website for other branches around Albay and Camarines Sur

Objective: I read somewhere that Bigg's Diner is the biggest and best food chain in Bicol. Wanted to know what the fuss is all about.

On the table: Baby back ribs (Php 214), chicken cordon bleu with laing (Php 187), and pineapple juice (Php 47).

Of all the items on the menu, why these: According to the cashier one of their bestsellers is baby back ribs (Php 214). Dear Cashier, Are you sure this is a best seller? Their baby back ribs, for me, was nothing special. I can get tastier and bigger servings of baby back ribs in Cebu for much less. I decided to have chicken cordon bleu stuffed with laing (Php 187)...because of the laing. I found the chicken cordon bleu too dry. Boo.

Baby back ribs (left) and chicken cordon bleu stuffed with laing (right)

Would I recommend Bigg's Diner? No. I wasn't impressed with the food. Top it off with high prices (meals cost from Php 72 to Php 214). No, thank you.

A Fraction of Albay:
Ligao City: Kawa-Kawa Hill
Ligao City: La Terraza Restaurant
Legazpi City: Affordable Accommodations
Legazpi Eats: 1st Colonial Grill, Small Talk Café, Bigg's Diner (you're here!)
Stalking Mayon


  1. First, the ice cream flavors: totally like Bohol Bee Farm... Unusual.
    Second, pili pesto pasta? Interesting much!
    And last, totally shows how much you love pili in this post. ��

    1. What flavors are there in Bohol Bee Farm? I have never been there :-(
      Hehehe, sakpan akong pag ka pili eater da! :-) Sige lang, usahay ra man gud ko makakaon ug pili nuts hehehe

    2. They also have malunggay and ginger but I'm not THAT adventurous when it comes to my icecream flavors so wa pa jud ko ka try sa exotic nila.

    3. Ginger... murag weird gyud na hahaha :-)

  2. Natakam ako sobra , totoong b yung chili ice cream?

  3. So how do you find the malunggay and sili ice cream? :D

    1. Okay ra ang malunggay. Wala ko ni try sa sili (nakatry ko before somewhere else and halang sya haha).

  4. ka lami man ani tanan oi! Bicol has a lot of interesting dishes to offer, some very unusual ice cream flavors and that ravioli stuffed with laing? Would love to try that! I've seen malunggay ice cream at Park Mall but I haven't tried it yet.

    1. Lami bitaw! Except for Bigg's Diner, disappointed ko ato hehehe

      Nakatry ko sa malunggay ice cream sa Park Mall and isog ra kaayo ang malunggay. I didn't like it. Sa 1st Colonial Grill kay better. Try it sa Little Italy sa Park Mall, they will let you try a little spoonful. That's how I got to try it hahaha :D

    2. haha nice, at least naka tilaw ka, then safe move if d nimo gusto you dont have to buy then lol