La Cocina de Tita Moning's living room

Old World Dining

In the 19th century, a wealthy couple living in the San Miguel District of Manila was known for throwing unforgettable dinners. Dr. Alejandro Legarda (a.k.a. Don Alejandro) and Doña Ramona Legarda (a.k.a. Tita Moning)’s sumptuous cooking and luxurious dining rooms made their home a memorable place for friends and relatives who were lucky enough to be invited over.

When the couple passed away in the ’90s, their children and grandchildren inherited their home. With the recipes and original kitchen staff on hand, Suzette Montinola turned the place into an ancestral home and restaurant to commemorate her grandparents’ legacy and their family history.

La Cocina de Tita Moning’s living room

A dinner appointment at La Cocina de Tita Moning includes cocktails in the patio area, a tour of the ancestral home, and a multi-course set menu served on antique china, glassware, and silverware dating back to the ’20s and ’30s.

You can pre-select from 15 classic menus and four Filipino menus—all consisting of soup or salad, appetizer, main course, desserts, and coffee, hot chocolate or herbal tea from the garden. The price starts at P1,500++ per person per multi-course meal. You may also go for the a la carte and wine menu.

Trio of La Cocina salads: ensaladang Filipino, fresh
papaya salad, and kangkong salad with walnut vinaigrette

And for those who can’t get enough of Tita Moning’s cooking, a gift shop allows guests to purchase bottled and boxed goods to take home.

My college friends and I booked a dinner there on December 19. We enjoyed escaping from the modern metropolis and eating home-cooked dishes such as paella Valenciana and Tita Moning’s famous bread and butter pudding in the authentic 19th century setting. Being surrounded by Tita Moning’s collection of dining and home fixtures was a plus. The modern-age woman in me just couldn’t dare use the bells placed at the head of the tables to ring in the help.

The highlight of my meal was a unique condiment called salsa monja or Nun’s sauce—a concoction enjoyed by the Spanish friars of the 16th century. It’s made of garlic, shallots, olives, olive oil, vinegar, and seasoning. Some friars preferred eating it as a companion to their main courses, while others had it as an appetizer. I liked it both ways.

The location is a bit out of my comfort zone—a few blocks away from the Malacañang Palace, where traffic can get insane. One thing my group should’ve done is a day tour at the Malacañang Palace before heading to La Cocina for dinner.

There’s always next time. Wish you were there, AO.

La Cocina de Tita Moning is located at:
315 San Rafael St.
San Miguel, Manila
Tel. no. +632-734-2146
Telefax +632-734-2141
Mobile no. +63917-538-3490
Lunch or dinner is by reservation only. No walk-ins allowed.
A maximum of 30 people are allowed to dine at a given time.
Reservation must be made at least 24 hours before dining.