Dining / Family, tradition and unique flavours

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WHEN you enter the world of Watson, make time to dine at Lolo and Lola by Waterhouse Bakers, a friendly Filipino eatery that dishes up amazing flavours.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

Lolo and Lola began as a bakery stall at Westside Acton Village. It was wildly popular so when Westside closed, owners and chefs Jay and Kim Prieto decided on a “Plan B”. They discovered a place at Watson shops, where Cherryripe Brasserie used to be, and brought on executive pastry chef Cristina Uy, who they met at culinary school in the Philippines.

Lolo means “grandfather” in Filipino and Lola “grandmother”. The food celebrates family, tradition and the unique flavours and colours that showcase the cuisine from this part of the world. That includes the super-duper purple “ube”, a chiffon yam cake we’re determined to try on our next visit. And we might even give the Pork Isaw a go. It’s a Filipino delicacy – grilled pork intestine skewers with spiced vinegar ($13.50 for three pieces).

It was Saturday lunch and Lolo and Lola was packed. The takeaway operation was pumping out orders at lightning speed.

The menu is small, featuring around eight shareable dishes, which change weekly.

Our tastebuds boogied over the pork bagnet ($17.50 for a regular size and $37 for the shareable size, which is good for up to four). The pork belly was super crispy on the outside and the meat beautifully tender. We happily dipped the bite-sized pieces into the dish of spiced soy-vinegar dip. Totally addicting.

We were delighted with the oh-so-fragrant beef curry loaded with meat, capsicum, peas and a secret recipe of spices. We initially wondered if the coconut milk would make the dish too rich but needn’t have worried – the balance was perfect ($17.50).

For greenery we shared the Ensaladang Labanos salad greens with fresh veggies and soy-pickled white radish – a different combo of flavours and some welcoming crunch ($14 regular size). It helped cut through the curry.

The portions at Lolo and Lola are so generous, we couldn’t finish our dishes. Sadly, there was no room for dessert, but we drooled over the look of the Filipino crème caramel with salted peanut meringue ($15). We also spotted the coffee chiffon cake with mocha buttercream ($8). Yum.

The décor features large photos mounted on the walls showcasing the Philippines, including intriguing street food scenes. And we loved the massive wooden carved utensils at the eatery’s entrance.

Lolo and Lola isn’t licensed and doesn’t offer BYO. Specialty cold drinks, such as a purple yam and young coconut thick shake ($6), and speciality hot drinks, such as a Filipino chocolate ($5), make up for this.

The service was amazing and we’ve not seen smiles that big in a long while.

Lolo and Lola offers a Filipino afternoon tea on the last Sunday of every month from 3.30pm-5.30pm. It is booked out well in advance, so get in early if you’re keen.

Lolo and Lola, 3 Watson Place, Watson. Open Wednesday and Thursday, dinner only; Friday and Saturday, lunch and dinner. Sunday, lunch only.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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