So it would be no surprise at all that I was stoked when I heard the news from owners GJ and Maricel Jimenez. Their brand new baby is up and running: Banapple Tomas Morato! Barely two weeks in operation, their soft opening was nothing quite 'soft', as one lunchtime proved to me. Thanks to word of mouth and die-hard Banoffee fans, couples and groups entered in batches that day, all waiting to get their fill of the Banapple experience at the new Il Terrazzo complex.
Il Terrazzo is at the corner of Tomas Morato and Scout Madrinan
If you've been frequenting their Katipunan branch, you probably by now have a knack of timing your visits at their place when it's the least crowded. My family usually gets to have our lunch on Sundays there after noontime, as parking will be less of a problem. The chances of getting a table quickly is also better. Some good news for their new branch located at the second floor of Il Terrazzo: it's more spacious, with a high ceiling and an al fresco area, and more parking slots.
Banapple at Tomas Morato
The feel of the place is bright and brand new, but there are the little knick-knacks that are reminiscent of the first branch: some magazines for your perusal, little shelves with country-style decor, an area for the shelves of breads, muffins, and cookies for people on the go or would opt to bring home the goodies.
The seats are the same, too, while the tables are uniquely pretty, using colorful marbles to create a mosaic-like design. And they also have a Banapple tree, by the way! Sprouting from one wall, its green and fiery orange leaves pop out and contrast the stripes of the wall.
As I sat down and checked out the menu (which was newly printed and laminated, too), my appetite went into auto-pilot and sought for my forever fave Chicken Breast Parmigiana. I later control myself, as GJ earlier recommended their new burger as a hot item to try. New desserts are also available for tasting! So for that afternoon's visit, I got to know a little better some of Banapple's newer offerings, both savory and sweet.
We begin our Banapple lunch with a platter of Lasagna Roll-Ups (P145). The smell is mouthwatering. Delicious herbed cream and parmesan cheeses fill up strips of lasagna and are served rolled up. The pasta is generously smothered with a classic tomato meat sauce and yummy mozzarella cheese.
Also served on the platter are slices of herbed bread that go well with the pasta. Slicing a lasagna roll will reveal its rich and thick filling, oozing out from the sides.
Another item up for lunch was the Hickory Smoked Barbecued Country Ribs (P155). While this dish is not a brand new item of Banapple's, this was an instant hit to the tastebuds, the first time my father and I tried it months back. And knowing that the dish will not disappoint, I order the ribs for my two friends to try out.
Hickory Smoked Barbecued Country Ribs
We had ourselves some very tender country ribs grilled in hickory smoke. The ribs are glazed with this very savory homemade sauce -- the hickory kind that leans toward sweet. True, you may find ribs in other places, but with the price and serving of Banapple's version, this one's an awesome value for money. The sauce alone is noteworthy, and I daresay even better tasting than the one served at a popular ribs place. The dish is also served with garlic rice and a relish of corn and red bell pepper.
My favorite for the day was hands down, the new burger of Banapple. Migs Gallabergher (P150) is a memorable burger, something I can fondly think of and crave for because of the burger patty unbelievably bursting with a lot of flavor.
You get a thick, juicy, and herby all-beef patty on top of mixed greens. You have the patty topped with a special mix of garlic, sour cream, and barbecue sauce. Adding to the burger's bulk are onions, melted cheese, and gooey mozzarella. All these, sandwiched in between sesame-sprinkled burger buns, and served with a siding of potato chips.
The burger patty is the tastiest thing: while it is thick, I found it surprisingly tender inside, with its edges a bit burned and crunchy. It has this mushy consistency in the center, and is overloaded with herbs and spices. You can see from the patty itself how they do not scrimp on adding flavor, with bits of oregano, some rosemary, pepper, and other things that Maricel later tells me are "everything we have in the kitchen." I'm adding this one to my Banapple favorites for sure.
After a lot of raves and big smiles from my friends brought about our lunch, it was time to excitingly end our afternoon with Banapple pies. Three sweet-toothed ladies at Banapple waiting for dessert simply spells out giddiness in all levels!
Always have room for dessert at Banapple!
First, our eyes light up at the familiar sight of the Banoffee Pie (P70-slice, P510-whole) glistening on a white plate. It was still a must to order one, that day, as one of my companions hadn't tried Banapple's masterpiece. Her first bite alone elicited a "Wow!" from her. I'm not surprised at all with her reaction. How about you, have you had Banapple's Banoffee lately?
Up next was the towering hunk of a Dark Chocolate Tiramisu Cheesecake (P95-slice, P900-whole). Layers of mocha mousse, moist cheesecake, and dark crust make up this dessert; hidden between layers are big chunks of dark chocolate. It was such a handsome piece of cake: luscious, dark, with bold flavors that target the tastebuds on the right spots.
Dark Chocolate Tiramisu Cheesecake
GJ also let us try one of their newer offerings in the Myster-Reese's Wicked Pie (P85-slice, P640-whole). The cake has some Reese's Pieces on top, along with whipped cream, and the cheesecake body is mixed with peanut butter. The pie was actually a Halloween special of Banapple, but word spread of its yummy and irresistible flavors, that they just had to extend its stay.
Myster-Reese's Wicked Pie
Lastly, I met a familiar slice of cake in the Super Caramel Fudge Cake (P80-slice, P740-whole). It's one of the richest, moistest cakes that I have ever eaten in my life. I do not exaggerate -- this one's for the sweetest of the sweet-toothed folks, because honestly, a couple of bites from one slice is all I need to get that sugar overload. Insanely fudgy, ultra-sweet and extra moist, the 'super' in its name is no joke!
Super Caramel Fudge Cake
One thing I greatly admire about Banapple is how they never scrimp on the good stuff. You are always assured of that home-style comfort with their food, never short-changing you with subpar cooking and baking. It's as if you're sitting comfortably over at your Tita's place for a good lunch -- you know, that Tita that everybody has, that just cooks really really well, and with every bite of her food, you can just tell it was made with lots of love.
Banapple has come a long way from its humble beginnings, yet it still gives me that warm comfy feeling of a place where I can just relax, be casual, and have a delicious meal capped with the best desserts. No fancy frills, just really good and affordable food, best served with good company. Now serving us with two branches in Quezon City, Banapple is quickly growing into the hearts and appetites of more and more people. You should get some of that Banoffee fix soon!