Thursday, May 3, 2018

Happynest Play and Learn Cafe at SM City San Lazaro

There's a relatively new place in SM City San Lazaro that is so welcoming and refreshing to parents and little tots. It's Happynest Play and Learn Cafe at the 2nd floor near Toby's Sports. It opened December 2017 but it wasn't till April that I discovered and visited the place. What did I find so interesting about Happynest? They serve Illy coffee! I first had a taste of this Italian coffee about three years ago in a cafe near Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City and I was impressed of its crisp, bold taste. 
It's a good thing I can now have Illy coffee again 
at a place which is nearer our home. 
Also, Happynest is kinda unique because it isn't just a cafe, it's likewise a play hub for kids. Parents can enjoy sipping their cup of joe while letting their little ones 
have the time of their lives at the play area. The kids, once they're done playing, can also enjoy eating as Happynest has special meal sets served on really cute plates that might as well be toys themselves so yes, they can play with their food. 
Haha! Just kidding.
I've gone to Happynest twice, once with my two kids and once solo. 
These were our orders:

Meaty Spaghetti, P165.
I had expected my son to have this and I was right. Happynest's version is a kid-pleaser: saccharine but not too much, even the much older me loved it. It was meaty and cheesy as well.

Mr. Porky Chop, P195.
This was really good! The breaded porkchop was tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Love, love, love! There's a bit of salad there but a whole lot of steamed rice, making 
this plate perfect for famished peeps. 
Finding Dory Bun, P245.
I liked the sandwich but would have loved it had the fish fillet been more crunchy on the outside and less oily. But it seemed they finished the frying process a little too soon, so the fillet was a bit soggy and dripping with oil. :(

Salted Egg Golden Fingers, P185.
I was curious about this but was disappointed that the salted egg flavor merely came from the powder dusted all over the fries. I just thought paying almost P200 for a handful 
of "powdered" fries was a bit too much.

Iced Cappuccino, P135.
This one is perfect when it's a searing summer afternoon but 
you just gotta have your coffee fix. 
Bambi Iced Tea, P70.
My son's default drink anywhere, anytime. :)

Mr. Shrekky, P180.
My daughter's. She's a bit of a "matchamaniac". Haha!

Latte, P125.
Pure bliss! I so love Illy coffee for its bold, intense and clean flavor.

In and around Happynest Play and Learn Cafe

Cute chairs!

Play area
This place makes me as giddy as a kid!

Happynest Play and Learn Cafe at the second level of SM City San Lazaro

Happynest Play and Learn Cafe is worth a visit, folks, especially if you have small children who would surely enjoy playing with all sorts of toys for boys and girls in the play area. 
Nice place, good food and coffee, and friendly crew. :)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Le Village Lifestyle Park for your summer chill-out nights

Food parks are a common sight these days. If you say you haven't seen one, it may be because you've been living in a cave. Haha! Just kidding. Food parks are just about anywhere, whether in commercial or residential areas, that they have ceased to be interesting to me. 
But there is one that caught my attention: Le Village Lifestyle Park along E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave. in Quezon City, for its beautiful and eye-catching French night market motif and design. Owned by the fruit juices and shakes company Fruitas Holdings Inc., it's especially lovely at night when the pink lights of the faux cherry blossom trees are on. 
Le Village opened in 2017 and last week, I was glad to finally have the chance to visit with my youngest child. This place is a beauty indeed and I immediately took a shine to it. It's clean, orderly and relaxing, perfect for chilling out. When we were there close to sunset, there was a cool breeze, bringing much-needed respite from the sweltering heat of the summer afternoon. There's about a dozen and two food and drink stalls serving various cuisines ranging from Filipino, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, American and Korean (unli-samgyupsal, anyone?). There's even a store serving wine and cheese, called La Petite Parissiene. 
I learned too that Le Village sometimes holds fun activities such as mural painting and bring-your-dog photo contest. There are even days when a band plays live music. Now I know why Le Village is called a "lifestyle park" instead of simply food park.

This pretty "wishing fountain" is the centerpiece of the lifestyle park. 
It's also home to a turtle and a janitor fish!

Anyway, my boy and I chose to have a Mediterranean meal from Kazam Kebab House. After placing our orders, I went to the restroom and it bawled me over! I know cozy is not a word to describe a C.R. but that is how it is! There's a couch and three comfy chairs inside the very lovely and clean restroom with a black and white motif and really huge, (almost) floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a chandelier. Wow, I could totally settle in that otherwise gross place. And it wasn't just beautiful, it was also clean. Impressive!

Some of the food stalls/menu:

La Petite Parisienne
This is the biggest of all the stalls. For your lechon fix!

Kazam Kebab House

Munifico Pizzeria

Sam's Ice Cream and Shakes

And then it was time to eat when I returned to our tables. Our orders 
from Kazam Kebab House:
Falafel wrap with iced tea, P165.
I love falafel! It's one of my comfort foods and I crave for it every so often. Kazam's version was quite good in the taste department, as there's a balance of flavors and the patties were not salty at all. The wee bit of a problem was that they were a little too soft that they disintegrated and melted too fast in the mouth. I like my chickpea patties firmer and fried for a longer time to the point of crunchy. But the hummus was love and there was a lot! As I expected from myself, I "destroyed" it in a heartbeat and was even tempted to lick the plate clean. Hahaha! I loved everything, yes, including the "soft" falafel. I also ate all of the onion slices dipped 
in the spicy red and white garlic sauce. Yummy!

Shawarma Rice with iced tea, P120.
This was my son's order which he also demolished in no time at all! I wasn't even able to have a taste but the buttered rice looked really good to me.

Shawarma Wrap, P95.
My not-so-little boy also had this but I had a a few bites as well. 
The beef was tender and delicious.

Sundae with crushed graham, P60.
This soft-serve vanilla ice cream from Sam's was really good! It was rich and creamy and also 
incredibly just a bit sweet.

Buko juice, P60.
My healthy and refreshing drink.

Visit Le Village, folks, at the corner of E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue and Cordillera St. in Quezon City.  This place is just what you need for hanging out and food tripping with your gang at the end of a tiresome work day or week. Because it's an open-air venue for a relaxing meal and chit-chat with your friends and family, enjoy the breeze while sipping a cold drink and eating your heart out. 
I just know I'd love to spend many summer nights here.
Le Village is open everyday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. See you there! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gourmet burgers and more at Pound by Todd English

If there's one foodie place that I discovered this 2018 that got me hooked, it's Pound by Todd English. Think about great grub, good coffee, sleek interiors, 
attentive service and pocket-friendly prices. 
What's not to love?
Pound is a spin-off of the Todd English Food Hall, that classy and trendy foodie place which opened at SM Aura Premiere in 2014 as the first celebrity chef restaurant in the country. I've never been to the food hall but I read in some blog posts that it has nine stations, one being the grill station for meat and seafood. It is here where people order gourmet burgers and presumably, the most popular of the 
stations, thus, giving birth to Pound.
There is now a number of Pound stores: at Bonifacio High Street, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, Eastwood Mall, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Malls Vertis North and Robinsons Place Manila. I have so far visited the last two branches. The one at Robinsons opened last year but I wasn't too eager to try it then, to be honest, as I was intimidated by the physical store's classy appearance that got me thinking the food was expensive. Imagine black-painted walls, black couches, ambient lighting, splendid brass mugs plus candles on white marble tables. The cheapskate 
in me wouldn't want to budge! 
And then, finally, I looked up the menu and found out that on the contrary, the food was very affordable! Well, you can splurge on the P700 burger with foie gras if you want but it's the only pricey item on the menu. And so, I was at Pound-Robinsons for two consecutive Saturdays, one time tagging along my youngest child. On my third visit, I went with my househelp to the Vertis North store. 
What we've tried so far:

Crispy Goat Cheese Salad, P150.
This is one of their best sellers, the server told me, so I asked for it. I was curious, too, as it sounded out of the ordinary. The goat cheese, which is sour and salty, is wrapped in what looked like wanton wrappers and then deep-fried. Nice contrast there both in taste and textures, with the fresh lettuce, onions and tomato slices. However, I wasn't sold out to the raspberry vinaigrette and thought a sweetish dressing like Asian would have been better to tone down the sourness.
Pound for Pound, P195.
This consists of one T. E. Burger Slider and one T. E. Crispy Chicken Slider
Close-up of the T. E. Crispy Chicken Slider
Loved them both, the miniature beef burger and the chicken sandwich. But it was the Crispy Chicken Slider that I loved more for the perfectly battered and fried meat chicken fillet that's crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside plus the
sweet-tangy sauce and crisp slaw on top.

Sizzling Pound Moco (beef), P180.
This one floored me! I, indeed, "pound" love served on a sizzling plate. Big, thick and flavorful Salisbury steak on top of a huge serving of garlicky fried rice, covered with peppery gravy then crowned with a sunny side up egg, what could be more perfect? I went loco over this Moco!

Sizzling Pound Moco (chicken), P180.
This wasn't on the menu but I read about this in some blogs. I asked the server at the Vertis North store and he said they did have a fowl version of the Pound Moco so I went for it. Slices of chicken breast slathered in delicious gravy over fried rice, this was really good! However, 
the beef version is still tops for me!

Pomodoro Set, P179.
The pasta is solo size and the T. E. Burger Slider, you can finish off in two huge bites so if you're famished or have big appetite, this might not be enough for you. This combo is perfect for me, tho :) I love the Pomodoro: al dente pasta bathed in light red sauce made savory by a beautiful medley of flavors from fresh tomatoes, basil and spices. Best of all, it's not sweet!

Onion Cube, P90.
Crunchy deep-fried onion rings that come with a dark sweet-salty dip. 
It's the perfect side to your burger.

T. E. Sundae solo, P100.
What could be a better way to end a lovely meal than some lip-smacking spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream topped with brownie bits and drizzled with chocolate and caramel syrups? Woe to me, I couldn't eat more than three spoonfuls lest my blood sugar shot up.

Brewed coffee, P100.
Strong coffee is always my drink of choice. At Pound, they have a good cup of joe, thankfully. I didn't have to go somewhere else afterwards for my caffeine fix.

Foodee Iced Tea, P90.
My son's drink.


                                Pound at Ayala Malls Vertis North

     At Robinsons Place Manila

Visit Pound by Todd English, folks if you're feeling like you could use a nice burger to cheer yourself up, or even if you want to eat healthy by just having a salad. This place won't disappoint. You might even be coming back for more like I did. 
Happy eating!