By Jeane Daryl C. Franco
One of the best ways to enjoy weekends is going on road trips to shop in surprise roadside finds and then sitting down for a hearty lunch after. Now imagine our collective delight when we found one such place to indulge both of our family’s passions: shopping snd food. We originally wanted to go to Tagaytay and took the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa route. Then we chanced upon a big red signage with the name Leonarda’s plus prominent displays of such enticing words as “suplus”, “shopping”, “Bulalo” and “Lomi”. Well, we just had to stop and take a look. And Leonarda’s was the best discovery we have had in recent times. Now we have a place for good food and valuable shopping items!
Leonarda’s actually started as a Japan surplus shop in a 60-square meter area along Sta. Rosa Road in Silang, Cavite. “I became a hoarder of tea cups and I collect so many that my husband told me, ‘Why not put up a shop?,” shared the owner. The husband-and-wife team expanded the shop to an even bigger area where shoppers, especially their primary market, the moms can browse around more comfortably. Housewives, collectors, and even interior designers and event organizers will find great pieces from functional and highly decorative tea cups, clocks, wall art and decor to bigger items such as dining tables, cabinets and more furniture pieces. Kitchen aficionados will delight in the display of cookware and utensils, while newbie plant lovers can pick up a cactus or two. We were also tempted by bags and painted valises artfully displayed around the store. Giving in to temptation is not so bad because all the items are priced well and a lot of them are even discounted. Shopping at Leonarda’s is actually a smart move.
Now ensconced in a 210-square-meter shop, Leonarda’s had ingeniously added a restaurant right in the middle of the shopping area. “We expanded and found the place a little bit too big just for a Japan surplus and home decor shop so we decided to offer food to our shoppers. In my personal experience, the husband needs to do something while the wife looks around our store. While he’s busy eating, the wife can take her time shopping,” the owner added. They pulled up well-loved dishes from their family’s kitchen archives and the owner is herself a passionate cook who enjoys introducing new dishes to Leonarda’s menu of Filipino heirloom and traditional cuisine. This vintage-themed and shabby-chic place serving good Filipino food appeals to everyone in the family. While dad eats and mom shops, the kids can amuse themselves with a variety of toys and games they can play: air hockey, mini soccer, mini billiards and bad dog (Gao Gao). There is no excuse for boredom as customers can also borrow novelty books and magazines to read. Leonarda’s is perfect for my family, and yours too, because everybody is happy. Even teens and young adults have something to do because WiFi is not available here. Going wireless is intentional as the owners wanted their customers to have a good bonding time with their family without the distraction of technology, “That’s why we opted to have a 2-in-1 shop, it’s a restaurant and it’s a shop. Para hindi mainip si husband and the kids. While waiting for mom as she shops, they can order food or coffee or play games,” the owner explained with a smile.
When asked for the story behind the name Leonarda’s, the owner explained that it is her mother-in- law’s name. “Leonarda’s is actually my husband’s mother’s name. It sounds vintage. So bagay sa kind of food that we serve especially as a lot of them are heirloom recipes enjoyed by the family for many decades. And we wanted to give a different dining experience; the customers will taste our food and think na parang si mommy or si lola ang nagluto. Bagay din yung name sa mga vintage items that we sell,” The owners are focused on delivering a dining experience that will bring back the good happy memories they have had eating good food prepared by their mothers and grandmothers.
Leonarda’s Restaurant serves a wide array of Filipino food passed from generation to generation. Their original Batangas Lomi – your choice of thick or thin soup – will definitely warm the tummy.
It is served with crunchy chicharon, kikiam and hard-boiled egg on top. As the restaurant’s best seller and specialty, the Bulalo soup is prepared for four hours. The warm broth from the fresh beef is so good, we slurped it! One order is good for up to four persons so it is perfect to share with your family especially in this rainy season. The flavorful Kare-kare, a family recipe from Nasugbu, Batangas, will remind you of childhood meals when this laborious dish is served to celebrate special family occasions. The Sizzling Sisig is quite nice with a glass of ice-cold root beer and the juicy Fried Chicken will remind you of simple yet happy meals around the family table. Old-fashioned ice candy is available and it comes in different local flavors too. At Leonarda’s, all the food is prepared the traditional way: fresh. Not one plate is pre-heated and cooking takes at least 15 minutes before serving so those toys and books will come in handy.
When it comes to the items they sell, customers may choose from a range of items from rustic to vintage to modern, sourced from Japan, Italy, Germany, England and China. As a tea cup collector, the owner said that one of her favorite items to sell are tea cups, naturally. She shared that tea cup collectors visit the shop to look for a certain design and brand that are mostly from England. “We are selling tea cups na sumikat noong time ni Princess Diana like the old country roses ng Royal Albert, so yes, we have the Royal Albert brand,” she smiled. Aside from her wide variety of tea cups, they also source quality cabinets and furniture from Japan and Italy. The framed landscape prints and the decor make Leonarda’s cozy and homey. The profusion of greens and edible plants like tomatoes planted outside add to the fresh ambience.
Truly, Leonarda’s is one place to indulge both passions for eating and shopping.