Banapple : A Fairy Tale of a Restaurant

Visiting any Banapple branch makes you feel like you’ve wandered into a fairy tale. The busy stretch of road becomes a woody forest, the honks and beeps of irritable drivers become birdsong, and the little restaurant in front of you is reminiscent of old Granny’s gingerbread house. There’s no witch waiting to shove you into the oven for dinner though; the ambience at Banapple is welcoming, comforting and, most of all, accepting. They do, however, have a tendency to overfeed you like dieting is the worst sin you could dare commit while alive. In Banapple you are encouraged to let it all go – all the stresses, the issues and problems of everyday life – and especially your diet.

Apple Caramel Crumble Pie
Apple Caramel Crumble Pie

When asked, GJ and Maricel Jimenez describe their typical customer as being young and affable – a modern-day Hansel and Gretel. Equally young and affable they, GJ and Maricel are the proud owners of Banapple, a hard-working married couple with two children, who consider Banapple a labor of love. It is their simple and humble wish to provide Manileños with basic comfort food to brighten their days, to cheer them up, to allow them to pursue their tasks with smiles on their faces and good nourishment in their bellies. Perhaps this modesty and unassuming pride in what they do is what keeps them young in both appearance and heart. Or perhaps it’s being constantly surrounded by the smiling faces of satisfied customers and excellent food.

Baked Creamy Cheesy Penne
Baked Creamy Cheesy Penne

Banapple began when Maricel quit the corporate world to spend more time with her children. She would create baked miracles in the kitchen of GJ’s parents, which he would then present and supply to restaurants and coffee shops. A TV feature on their excellent baked goods catapulted the business and the couple decided to transfer their little operation down the road, along busy Katipunan and a stone’s throw away from some of the country’s best schools. GJ says, “We wanted a homey façade with a rustic feel, so when people were waiting for their cakes they could sit down, read a magazine, have a cup of coffee, relax and enjoy themselves.” Since the bright and cheerful ambience started attracting more people, more comfort food was added to their current offerings, and the first Banapple branch was born.

Banoffee Pie
Banoffee Pie

Since then Banapple has proudly put up a branch along Tomas Morato, and a second one in Katipunan just across the road from the first one (and both branches are constantly full – regardless of the time or day – in spite of their close proximity!). GJ adds, “Banapple has become a humble landmark along Katipunan, a place where people can sit and relax and have good food while enjoying the ambience. It’s like a touch of home in the middle of your day.”

Chicken Breast Parmigiano
Chicken Breast Parmigiano

A touch of home it is. Banapple offers the most amazing savory dishes for the hungry humans out there. At first glance the meals are slightly more expensive than average canteen fare, costing around Php180 for a dish. Yet when the meal arrives does said hungry human realize that it could have been shared, so generous are the sizes. There is also Banapple’s coffee, roasted to perfection, an ideal complement to an amazing meal. Any visit to Banapple wouldn’t be complete without sampling their amazing Banoffee Pie – or any of their other sweet tooth treats; the first bite is guaranteed to make you close your eyes and murmur in appreciation. With their food alone, you feel like you’ve entered a fairy tale as a member of the royal family, sitting down to banquet with the lords and ladies of the court, being waited upon by an attentive and cordial staff. No need to dress in your finery however; the ambience is so much like Granny’s house that it wouldn’t be surprising to see the three bears knock on the door, come to pick up some porridge on their way to the market.

Hickory Smoked Country Ribs
Hickory Smoked Country Ribs

Banapple has been a loyal Quezon City citizen for the past three years, but thankfully Makati dwellers can experience the goodness of Banapple themselves soon enough. Around November 15, Banapple Makati opens in the heart of the Central Business District – nestled in its very own greenery, inside the Ayala Triangle Gardens. GJ says, “Banapple has always had a community feel. We were inspired when Ayala asked us to join them in Makati, and we’re so happy that we’ll be in the Ayala Triangle Gardens, because that lets us maintain that community feel.”

White Chocolate Truffle Berry Cheesecake
White Chocolate Truffle Berry Cheesecake

Considering that Banapple began in the kitchens of a home in Project 4, the restaurant has always held fast to its ideals of simple joys and pleasures – comfort food, a homey ambience, excellent service and smiling staff. The restaurant reflects the homey vibe and family-centric values of Quezon City. They welcome all, young and old, and even had face painting activities last Halloween where they were proud to see twin toddler girls and a grandmother lining up to participate in the festivities. Although it may be a veritable test to face the stressed out, hyperactive and cosmopolitan character of the Central Business District, GJ and Maricel don’t want to change a thing. Maricel says, “It’s a challenge for us to be serving the Makati community, but nothing changes – we’re just going to do what we’re doing now, to replicate what we’ve been doing. We’d like to bring a little bit of QC coziness to Makati.” Perhaps that is exactly what Makati needs – a respite in the middle of the day, a quick jaunt to the Ayala Triangle Gardens for lunch, to satisfy your cravings for good home-cooked meals and ridiculously satisfying cakes and pies; to enter a world that is so different from the concrete and glass of the high-rise money capital of the Philippines.

And when you enter, you will be assailed first by how young you feel, so reminiscent is the restaurant of the fairy tales you heard as a child. So redolent is the food of yesteryear. You can imagine the many robust cooks and kindly grannies of many a fable creating such concoctions in their own kitchen havens. The smiling and accommodating staff, bedecked in their brightly-colored uniforms, are reminiscent of characters from a children’s cartoon. And should you be fortunate enough to encounter the charming owners yourself, you will realize the benefit of doing what you love to do and serving others with simple values and true humility – it is evidenced through a youthfulness, a kind and wholesome glow, a humble and simple affability, like the true hosts that they are.

Banapple is the ultimate escape into a world that is somehow familiar, but not completely explored yet. Banapple smells like childhood.

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