Our trip to Cagbalete Island cut short by a family emergency, we drove straight for home once we disembarked from our boat at Mauban port past 1PM. It was not yet dark when we reached San Pablo City and were contemplating having dinner at one of the gas stations along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). However, Nina’s aunt and uncle suggested we take early dinner instead at the Sulyap Gallery Café inside San Pablo City proper. They assured us the stopover would be worth it.
Once inside the compound of Sulyap, we soon realized this was more than just another café establishment with a small arts gallery. Immediately to the front of the entrance gate is a long 3-story building that resembled a school. We would later find out that this building used to be the Southern Luzon Colleges. The structure now houses a museum showcasing the antique collection of the owners and a function hall – both of which are on the building’s first floor.
In another part of the property and set amidst landscaped gardens are three Spanish colonial-era ancestral houses that function as restaurants. The houses are built in typical 18th – 19th century fashion with brick or stone first floors and wooden second stories. Much of the furniture of the casas are antique sets that add to the colonial feel of the place. Old handicrafts and other collectibles further enhance the atmosphere.
Dining facilities exist in both first and second floors. We opted for the second floor where we could dine on the balcony and enjoy the view below.
The food at Sulyap Gallery Café is mostly Filipino but with some dishes prepared with a creative twist. For dinner we had pako or fiddlehead fern salad (always a favorite of ours), kulawong puso ng saging (sliced banana heart in coconut milk with grilled pork belly), eggplant omelet, chicken barbecue and crispy pata (deep fried pig knuckles).
Somewhat tired from our early morning jaunt at Cagbalete’s Yang-In Sandbar and the return trip here, we had a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy the ambiance of Sulyap. Continuing on to Metro Manila later that evening we would encounter the dreaded heavy traffic along EDSA during a late evening downpour but we were sufficiently fed and rested by then, thanks to our cozy experience at San Pablo’s Sulyap Gallery Café.