This farm resto in Alfonso, Cavite serves vegan dishes that even meat lovers would love to eat

Food drink

Here’s a restaurant you might want to check out after ECQ.

RHIA GRANA | August 13, 2021

There is a cafe and eco farm located in Alfonso, Cavite that serves cooked vegan food that even meat eaters would love. Called Sentro Botanikos, it sits on two hectare farmland owned by the Antonio family who have been leading the vegan lifestyle for almost two decades now.

It was initially a family vacation spot, a property planted with various vegetables grown organically. Benj and Sol Antonio were going there with their four children, three of whom have been vegans from a young age. Being the designated cook, however, Sol quickly found it tiring to keep bringing all of his spices and cooking utensils every time they visited Alfonso. So the former banker had an idea: why not just set up a restaurant on the farm? “That way I won’t be stressed out from all the cooking,” she recalls at ANCX.

The Antonios built the restaurant using a lot of recycled wood.

This idea came true when their friends, husband and wife restaurateurs Joel and Ave Carlos, who own Azotea Greens in Baguio and are vegetarians themselves, offered to run the place for them. Since Sol has extensive experience in vegan cooking – she has been a serious vegan for half of her life – she developed the menu and simply hired cooks from around Alfonso that she could train.

Three years ago, they built the restaurant using a lot of recycled wood. The foundation was made from old Meralco poles (as these have already been replaced by the utility company with concrete poles) that they got from a friend. Some of the wood came from his mother-in-law’s house in Vigan. Even some of their muebles, like their tables, are objects of friends and family. The overall brownish tone of the structure melded beautifully with the greenery of the farmhouse.

Sentro Botanikos Ecological Farm
Pine bridge and an old restored carruaje for those who wish to relax and reflect

Guests of Sentro Botanikos are allowed to visit the Antonios’ farm. On the day of the ANCX interview, Sol had just harvested eggplant, lettuce, okra, pechay, Chinese kangkong, talbos ng kamote and gabi. She also grows other types of houseplants on the property.

The restaurant was already working well and the place was already making itself known in the region, especially since they are located near Tagaytay, until the eruption of the Taal volcano in January 2020 which stopped everything. This was soon followed by the pandemic.

Sentro Botanikos Ecological Farm
The two hectare property is planted with all kinds of vegetables and fruit trees

Despite the challenges, Sentro Botanikos chose to persevere. To better observe health and safety protocols, and since travel was restricted, they chose not to open for dining inside and simply offered food via delivery. They deliver to nearby locations, and for those in Metro Manila, people can order through Lalamove.

One of their signature dishes is Adobo ni Lola (P161), which is made from soy protein, so it’s healthier than the typical adobo. The Antonios love Indian food, so Sol has his own version of Shahi Paneer (P205). “Since we love chicken curry, I thought Filipinos would appreciate it. My version uses paneer (Indian cottage cheese) instead of chicken.

Vegetables harvested at Sentro Botanikos
Sentro Botanikos sells vegetables harvested from their organic farm.

They also serve G (gulay) Bulalo (P285 by palayok), a healthier alternative to the highland favorite. Meat eaters might want to try their Mushroom Sisig (P225) which closely mimics the creaminess and texture of the regular. sisig using only mushrooms, tofu, soy protein and root crops. They also have a guilt-free version dinuguan called “Bean-uguan” (P125 per serving) which is made with frijoles negros, or black beans, that are slightly sweet and sour and spicy. This is served with mellow, stone-ground puto galapong.

Sentro Botanikos is located in Brgy. Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite (Tagaytay metro). For any request, see their Facebook page.