Small Talk Cafe and Gasthof’s, Legazpi City


After hitting two markets and meeting up with the rest of the group that I was traveling with in Legazpi, we were, of course, famished and decided to try the Small Talk Café for lunch. My first impression was quite good, a charming café with a bit of character located in an old house off of a main street. It had shades of those early restaurants in Malate that might be described as being quaint. There was a huge reservation for 20 or more for lunch so they had trouble seating our party of 8 but after some adjustments they got us squeezed in. The first hint of trouble was with the arrival of the menu. It screamed Western and Pinoy favorites and Bicolano food was relegated to a small segment of the menu. I realize most Bicolanos have fabulous food at home and have no desire to go out and pay for it in a neighborhood restaurant so I decided to straddle the menu and order an assortment of Filipino-ish dishes and hope for the best. We ordered Sinigang, Caldereta, Spare Ribs, Pinangat, Bicol Express, Fried Chicken, etc.

The food was mediocre at best, and I will cover the bicol express in another post. There was no heat, no sharp flavors, nothing to scream about positively or negatively. When lundin2I asked the server for some siling labuyo to add heat to my pinangat she actually answered that they didn’t have any sili, which nearly set me off madly dashing to the street with my arms flailing like a lunatic… our local hosts rushed to the kitchen to explain (thinking it was my baluktot language skills that caused a misunderstanding) and 4 measly labuyos appeared and I chopped some of them up and mixed them in with my pinangat as the Bicolanos watched in amazement…this odd addition/consumption of raw chillies…how bizarre is that? At any rate, I have to hope that it was an off day for Small Talk Café… the only consuelo was that the entire meal was just over PHP1,200 for 8 people or PHP150 a head!

Despite the experience at lunch, and because we were counseled against hitting Waway’s at dinner time when the selection might less extensive, we decided to check out Gasthof’s Deli/Restaurant. An outpost of a German owned restaurant that has apparently achieved some kudos on the resort island of Boracay, and they opened a branch Legazpi which also features more Western style dishes though they had a lundinpromising section of Bicolano favorites (Gasthof’s wife is Bicolana, I gather)… we ordered some kinilaw na malasugi, pinalasing na hipon and some mussels baked with mozzarella as starters. All of these dishes were quite good and a perfect match with a couple of beers. For the main courses, we ordered a cocido which in Bicol is actually a soup more akin to a sinigang… and it arrived with lapu-lapu heads, a broth soured with kalamansi, tomatoes, green onions, some coconut meat and kamote tops. It was very tasty and something I would like to try and replicate at home. We also got some spare ribs, bicol express, lechon kawali, and a few other dishes. The famous ribs lived up to their vaunted reputation and all the other food was quite tasty. Overall, it was a good meal and at PHP 2,200 with several beers for 7 people it was very reasonably priced. Stay tuned for more local bicolano fare…coming up soon.

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22 Responses

  1. those places you went to cater mostly to tourists who can’t stand hot food. the canteen by the airport serves decent pinangat. i just don’t know if they serve bicol express. they also sell marinated snipes. yummy! and i heard a restaurant near the cagsawa ruins serve good food. i forgot the name but it’s a four digit number

  2. Since you are in LEgaspi, i suggest you go to Daraga, ALbay and check out this great restaurant called Balay Cena Una. From the highway, its in the area of Ilawod, just ask the tricycle drivers where the Shelmed Factory is and you’ll find it there. Balay Cena Una is fairly new, with great Bicol fare matched with classic and Filipiniana-inspired interiors. They are open for lunch and dinner. Try the Pinangat Pasta which sounds peculiar but is really very very good!

  3. and if you are looking for the best pili products, there’s no doubt about it, the only place to go is the Albay Pili Nut Central store (which is on Rizal Street). Being of Bicolano heritage, i have never really appreciated pili products (shame shame) but ONLY found the light when i tasted products from this store. you wont regret it.

  4. mm,this is getting weird. about a week after your trip to bohol some 6-7 weeks back, i went to bohol and had a great time at your recommended MR seafoods at the tagbilaran pier. and now, i’m leaving in a couple of days for legaspi and am devouring all the info you’re providing.

    if you don’t mind, how much is a night at the venezia? did you run across a delicacy called bonbones? the wife has ordered me to get some.

    i’m so fortunate to be following in your adventurous wake. perhaps someday i’ll catch up?

    many thanks for the many hours of delightful reading, MM. mabuhay ka!

  5. Choy, stay tuned for one more post on restaurants that were a bit better than the two featured here. Venezia was about PHP3000 for their second best room (Presidential suite was about 4000). This was for double occupancy. With aircon. No hot water as far as I could figure. Don’t eat there. A single in their next door property was PHP1350 a night. I didn’t see these though I had three colleagues in these rooms and they said they were okay. Have a good trip!

  6. thanks a lot! looking forward to that coming post on the better restaurants. hmmm…i wonder how many i can cover in two days? what the heck, i’m gonna try as many as i can!:)

    thanks again, MM. Big help.

  7. MM, nice write up on my friend’s place. The owners are Wolfgang (aka Jimmy) and Bot Gersbach. they have great baby back ribs! they also sell some delis and jimmy once in a while bakes great cakes and pastries. I was still working in Boracay when they opened their branch there. They originally had a small place inside Clark where Yats Wine Club and Grill is now. How I miss eating at their place while watching the sun set.

  8. choy, a few minutes’ tricycle ride from venezia hotel is aquinas hospital. just in front of the hospital, sa may kanto is a house/”carinderia” ( i hesitate to call it restaurant) named Julie’s (i think–basta a name starting with letter J). they supposedly serve great bulalo there. i don’t know where in legaspi they serve great bicol express but maybe waway’s does. try also the snipes in the canteen beside the airport

  9. My husband and I love pinangat. Where’s the best pinangat in Manila aside from a Bicolano’s home? And kilawin, too?

  10. honey, thanks lots! i will surely try your recommendations. expect me to be one of the 1st customers in that canteen by the airport tomorrow. love snipes!

  11. Choy, I didn’t realize you were leaving so soon…haven’t gottent the other posts out…you can get a decent meal at Waway’s in town, and we ate Bicolano food at Pepperland Hotel and it was pretty good too!

  12. gotcha, MM. i guess I have more than enough restaurants to visit in 2 days. thanks again!

  13. gasthof is one of the best restaurant in legazpi actualy i work there as a service crew and for tha past months i learn so many things regarding the menu all i can say if you once visited albay please visit gasthof and i promise you you would never regret it the service is good and the have the best food in town

  14. Thanks for your comment about small talk cafe. i’ll see to it that every day we have enough sili to serve our customers. Ours is not really a bicolano restaurant. When we first conceived this place we thought of local residents who wants a change in their regular meals… so for a while gata is no no for us. however, after sometime we realized we can serve bicol dishes with a twist that’s why we came up with PASTA PINANGAT, BICOL EXPRESS PASTA, PIZZA BICOLANA, PASTA MAYON, ETC. These dishes brought small talk to newspapers and special tv features. So when you come back to legazpi, do drop by small talk again and try our fusion dishes.

  15. talk about desserts aside from pili sweets, i’d also recommend LOCSIN Pilinuts’ “Buko-Meringue Pie”. it’s a heavenly delectable melt-in-your-mouth pastry that’s perfect with barakong kape. last time i bought one was two years ago. i guess they still create it, though. and talk about japanese fare, try DELICA; owned by a japanese guy [i think also with a bicolana wife] and cooks up a scrumptious meal. there’s CHILLI PEPPERS [i love their sizzling squid! the best!]

  16. hey!i am mad about gasthof’s!they really have a nice ambience in the resto and probably you’ll think of how expensive the offered menus are, but believe me thay’re all reasonable. i’m glad to know that they’re gonna put up a branch here in Naga City located on Avenue Square this coming December.. :D

  17. At least I’m seeing gasthof’s unending road to success coz of it’s continuous product development and unique food presentations. From its staff professionally trained and their well mannered approaches to their customers, their deli selections and sizzling grill (oh my… their famous baby back ribs)one must really try. I will not be surprise to see gasthof mushrooming in key places and the opening of their branch in Naga City (Magsaysay Avenue corner Taal)is a starter here in Bicolandia.

  18. Sheena and komdick, did you READ the review I wrote? I actually thought Gastof’s was okay compared to the other places I tried, but a home run? I DON’T THINK SO. If they are really consistently good, they will do well, no need to plug them and their new branches address on this blog. In my view, they were just competent…but that is only my view… and obviously it depends what else exists in the market they are competing in. I have no self interest except to report what I ate…THAT IS WHAT MOST readers of this blog are looking for…

  19. the best talaga ang SMALL TALK.. my ofice m8 here in chevrolet mkati, have been there…lintiaz sana daw na siram kan mga pagkaon!!!!!!!!1nami2ss ko na 2loy Albay…huhuhu

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