Episode 33: Starting the year right at Casa Vallejo Hill Station!

I’m starting the year right with a quick dinner with my brother MC at Hill Station, the restaurant of Casa Vallejo in Baguio City. After spending the holidays with my family in the highlands, I figured it would be nice to check out at some place we haven’t been in the city. This place felt just the right spot.

Casa Vallejo was a wooden inn opened in 1909, while Baguio is being established as a hill station for the Americans. The place was used as a detention center and refugee camp. It withstood the Americans’ carpet bombing of the city at the end of World War II. In 1945, it functioned as an annex of the Baguio City High School, and once again as an inn and convention hall.

Casa Vallejo closed down in 1999. After several years of subsequent restoration, it was brought back to life; and now Casa Vallejo is recognized as one of the ten oldest institutions in Baguio. One of the results of the restoration of Casa Vallejo is Hill Station, the restaurant owned by restaurateur Mitos Benitez–Yniguez.

Hill Station is Casa Vallejo’s old ballroom/meeting area, now decorated with elegant and nostalgia-evoking designs. The restaurant is connected by two staircases to the inn’s lobby above, and also leads to the café bar below. The open space is surrounded by French windows and the wooden beams and floors, remnants of Casa Vallejo’s antique structure. Old photographs also adorn the walls. One can enjoy the view of the trees and the city lights at night. The ambiance is totally Baguio.

Hill Station was voted as one of Asia’s finest restaurants, and is included in the Miele Guide 2011/2012 Edition. The menu is a mix of Asian, American, and European dishes, mostly slow food, stews, steaks, pastas, and other home-cooked specialties. Hill Station’s website describes its cuisine thus:

 

“Mitos offers you robust dishes that blend the flavors of Asia’s hill stations with the tastes of Old World Europe and New World America. Here in her creations, these three worlds fuse harmoniously as never before, and a spoonful of history was never as good!”

Our dinner started with some mushroom soup, just enough to warm the first night of the year.

We then had Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes and Pecorino, a sweet-sour, rich mix of Roma tomatoes, white wine, and artisanal hard goat cheese.

MC ordered Shepherd’s Pie, a bowl of sliced lamb and beef baked with mushrooms, gravy, mashed potatoes and cheese. The bowl looked small but every spoonful of it was very flavorful.

 

My dinner was Ribeye Picado, beef ribeye cubes cooked medium well, and served with vegetables and mashed potatoes. The beef was soft and succulent, and the vegetables were cooked just right. The whole dish was filling, to say the least.

 

For dessert we were supposed to have a Death By Chocolate Cake, which was one of their best-sellers, but since the bar ran out of the stuff, we ended up with a sweet, creamy cup of their crème brulee.

 

The whole meal was quite expensive, which is not surprising given the setting and cuisine served here. The service was quite fast, and the staff was very accommodating. In any case, our stay at Hill Station was quick, but all in all we enjoyed a really sumptuous dinner.

Hill Station serves Filipino and American breakfast meals from 7:00 – 10:30am. Desserts are always freshly made but subject to availability. Cocktail drinks and other liquor are also available to cap your lunch or dinner, preferably enjoyed at the adjacent bar.

Guests can buy Hill Station’s red and white wines, homemade sauces and condiments that they can buy for their homes.Various handicrafts are also available.

Back in college I remember walking past Casa Vallejo, right when it was in a state of disrepair. How would I have known that this old, neglected building would hold such a rich history. Its nice to see how Casa Vallejo was revived. This is one place in Baguio where you can enjoy a warm meal, a nice view, and a relaxing ambiance that can engulf you in a wave of nostalgia.

———



Hill Station
Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Road,  Baguio City 

Tel. No. 424-2734
423-9100
423-9558 

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