The Ilustrado’s
21st Century Buffet

Barbara's Facade

Barbara’s Facade

History books did not engage me when I was a child. It was too dry for me despite my natural inclination to pore over printed books voraciously. I did not have high grades in history in high school. In UP, though, something was awakened. And after the awakening, I got a flat one in Kasaysayan and an unending fascination for the very prolific professors who speak the mother tongue like a majestic Datu.

Of course, part of Philippine history was the colonial period. I wish that more students go to Intramuros because it’s the best place to imbibe and see the vibe of 18th century Philippines minus the dryness associated with dates listed on textbooks. And while we are on the topic, let me show you that there is one buffet that gives you both the modern and ancient Hispanic vibe that I have been raving about: Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves regarding the look and feel, which was inspired by an 18th century ilustrado home. Ilustrados are like the intellectual elite of that period.

Upon entering the hall, you will feel like you are literally transported back in time. Even the tiniest details speak of ancient elegance…


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The Food

While I am mesmerized by the ambience, I found the food to be so-so. I have heard that some people had divine experiences from this place gastronomically. But on the day we chose, Araw ng Kagitingan, the most salient part of the menu for me is the Tomato-based Moussaka, the Fried Calamares, and the Chicken. The Caesar’s Salad could use some additional ingredients but for as long as there is lettuce, there is some sense of fulfillment for my fitness-loving self:

barbara-salad barbara-maincourse barbara-fruits barbara-dessert

I think the in-laws enjoyed the variety of rice presented. I skipped the rice and went straight for the moussaka! 🙂 Oh, and they have wine. But it was lunchtime and we were just basking in the environment with a sober stance.


The Music

Another highlight that I’d like to share was the music. 🙂 They serenaded my in laws, especially my soon to be mother in law. 🙂 The band played around 7 songs, including Jambalaya. And they can even play Frozen’s “Let It Go” theme song!!! These guys really deserve an award for their talent and versatility in accommodating requests.
barbara-serenade barbara-groupphoto

I also fiddled a bit with their classic black piano before leaving, which reminded me of my childhood days. 🙂 This is the one time I actually missed playing the piano and I am considering revamping and repairing my now abandoned Ludwig classic at home:

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I was nine years old when I started playing the piano. I always had a thing for guitars. But the piano was more friendly for my delicate fingers.

I did not have the boisterous childhood of climbing trees or going outdoors. I do not have physical scars on my knees but introspection was always within reach. My interest was in books and somehow I had this lingering fascination for the prolific and melancholic… It was not entirely a sad childhood although it was quite different, relatively speaking. It did not take so long for me to realize that I was different. But growing up allowed me to embrace me for all the weirdness and quirkiness that made me who I am today.


The Photographs

Since the place is so beautiful, I made some attempts to take photographs using the Canon DSLR. Here’s my amateur shot of Grace at the waiting area by the staircase:


Grace marvelling at the place:


This is a photo of father and son in a place that gastronomically bridges the generation gaps from 18th to 21st century.barbara-father-and-son

Of course, we will not forget the birthday girl, Mommy Mary:


What else can I say? It’s clearly one of the most picturesque buffet venues I have ever seen in my life. 🙂


And because I love the place, it is even made more wonderful because I am holding hands with the one I love as I grace these shiny and elegant halls…

Helena and Paulo at Barbara's

Helena and Paulo at Barbara’s

Photos taken by: Helen Mary Labao, Atty. Paul Isaac Barrameda, and (soon to be Engr.) Grace Ann Barrameda



Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant
Plaza San Luis Complex, Intramuros Manila
527-4086 / 527-3893 / 788-3356 / 527-4083

Restaurant Hours: Open entire week
11AM – 2PM : Lunch Buffet
6:30PM – 9PM : Dinner Buffet

Php 475+ per head for Lunch
Php 675+ for Dinner with Cultural Show(++ for Musician Tip)