You heard it right — chili-flavored ice cream. We all know Bicol food for its gata or coconut milk (laing, kinunot, pinangat) and a lot of chili, like the Bicol Express. Who would have thought that they’d go as far as infuse our sweet favorite, the ice cream, with spicy hot chili.
While waiting for my companions’ quick shower right after the butanding interaction in Donsol, we joked around with the resort’s restaurant staff. Do they have chili shake? No, they said. Do they have chili ice cream? Yes, they said with a grin, and it could be found in the Colonial Grill back in Legaspi City.
A few more inquiries pointed us to the direction on how to get there: the 1st Colonial Grill is found along Rizal Avenue, beside the Bicol University. That’s along the national highway and it won’t be difficult to find the home of sili ice cream.
The taste? It’s sweet, just like ice cream. It’s creamy, just like ice cream. It tastes just like the regular vanila ice cream — up to the point within nanoseconds from the time you put the spoon inside your mouth.
After the fleeting sweetness, what comes next is the fiery hot flavor of chili.
The Colonial Grill serves other Bicol specialties, including laing and Bicol Express. It’s disappointing that the laing served in Colonial Grill is salty and far from tender. We were told that there’s a problem with the supplies received from the commissary. Anyway, we’ve tried both dishes a number of times in other restaurants in and around Legaspi, hoping to find the holy grail of laing and Bicol Express. Maybe we missed it. Maybe it’s found in a home kitchen, not a restaurant.
Now, if you ask us what you should try in Colonial Grill, we’d recommend the chili ice cream, the Five Spice Grilled Chicken, the Tinapa Rice, and the Halaan soup.
Leave some space for the Pili Bread at the adjoining coffee shop, the Bikol Blends Cafe. The coffee is not strong, but it serves the purpose of balancing the sweetness of the Pili Bread. There are other choices but we ate a lot of the delicious Five Spice Grilled Chicken and we couldn’t take no more.
The Colonial Grill is a cozy place, with relaxing warm lights and high ceiling. The dining sofa is comfortable, perfect after a day’s worth of going around Legaspi and its surrounding places of interest. The staff are courteous and helpful, even offering to remove laing from our final bill because we said it’s too salty for our taste.
We insisted, of course, to pay for everything and made it clear that we’re not complaining, just inquiring if that’s how a true Bicolano laing should taste like. There’s a problem with this one, we were told, the reason why they offered to pull it out of our final bill. Other than this, out experience at Colonial Grill went great.