Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk #13: Empire Fashion Cafe

Think you've had enough of Maginhawa St.? Think again. I've been to over 20 restaurants in this well-known stretch (loop, actually, because foodies include peripheral streets such as Malingap) that is heaven to the gastronomically inclined and thought I've had the best of it (That reminds me of my posting backlog!). Then comes an article saying there are newbies that offer great promise. Hmmm.. Time to go back to Maginhawa? The tummy thought t'was a good thing to do. 
And so, last Monday, my daughter and I set our feet again at Maginhawa, particularly at this interesting place that's perfect to visit at this time of the year when shopping shifts to high gear. We were at Empire Fashion Cafe, you bet! It's perhaps 
the most popular new address at Maginhawa today, 
having received its good share of publicity. 
But before looking at or buying anything, we ate: 

Aussie Shark Bait Burger, P185.
This was good but the beef patty was small and thin, making this burger a bit too pricey for its price. Thankfully, the fries is included in every order of it. We were also given a glass of soda but I'm not sure if it came with the burger or the lasagna roll.
Lasagna Roll, P165.
This one I really liked. The lasagna was packed with just the right flavors from the meat and tomato and cream sauce. By that I meant taste that is more subtle than screaming because between the two, I choose the first. I dislike my taste buds being flooded and "shocked" by too strong a taste, so this is perfect for me. And the toasted bread was really crunchy, which 
I loved! Two thumbs up for Empire's Lasagna Roll.
Ham and Cheese Maki Rolls, P90.
These pieces of deep fried rolled bread with fillings are good munchees, 
I imagined, while watching a movie or reading a book. I cringed, though, 
at the thought of grease.
Matcha Frappe, P145.
Because this was matcha, I loved it! Would have downright healthy without the cream and chocolate, however, but of course, this wouldn't be called a "frappe" without them.

After eating, shopping! Nearly everyone could find something at Empire, we learned. There are clothes for men, women and kids. There are shoes, bags, knick knacks, toys, and make-up. We found some nice buys, and went home happy with them. Prices of the merchandise were very affordable and they're surprisingly of good quality. I just think having a boutique and a cafe in a single store is one good idea. Kudos to the owner/s! Did I mention they have another store in Marikina? Yes, they do, and I think it opened first. 
Check out Empire Fashion Cafe, folks! 
Happy eating!...and shopping!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk #12: Angus Tapa Centrale

Tapsilog or tapa (cured beef), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg) is my top favorite all-day breakfast, and I was amazed when I saw on TV last year that there's a restaurant serving it using Angus beef. I'm talkin' about Angus Tapa Centrale in Kamuning, Quezon City, which was featured then on Taste Buddies (and in a few other TV shows). It's just a hole-in-the-wall, non-descript eatery but mind you, it's patronized by big-name personalities in the likes of 
Willie Revillame and Vice Ganda. 
Meanwhile, Angus beef is the meat of a breed of cattle called Angus, imported mostly from the US but could also come from other countries such as Germany and Australia. The beef is said to be of superior quality and here in the Philippines, dishes that use this type of meat are exquisite and pricey. 
For this reason, I was excited about the thought of having a taste of my favorite tapsilog, now leveled up. I couldn't wait to be at Angus Tapa Centrale but unfortunately, could not find the time to go to Kamuning just for it. But months later, I learned that they'd opened a new branch on Malingap St. that's part of the famous Maginhawa restaurant loop. Oh, how excited it got me because this area is my favorite part of the earth. He he he... Fortunately, my food buddy in the office shared my keen interest and one lunchtime, we hied off to the place which is just near where we go to work. 
Here's what we ordered:

US Angus Beef Tapa Original, P165.
Baby Back Ribs, half slab, P295.
Almond Mocha Sansrival, P185.
Grape fruit shake, P135.
Cappuccino, P85.

Inside Angus Tapa Centrale-Malingap

The tapa did not disappoint, it was really good! The beef - tender, succulent and flavorful - was cut into small pieces so it was easy to eat and delicious - just as I expected! The fried rice was a nice complement to the tapa - not soft the way some restaurants serve theirs, and garlicky. The fried egg could have been perfect 
if it had toasted edges, though. Tee-hee. 
As for my buddy, she loved her Baby Back Ribs, too - smoky, mildly saccharine, and tangy. Yup, I tasted it and liked it, too. We had the Almond Mocha Sansrival, yes, but we decided to forego dessert this time, and my friend decided to just take it home. The cappuccino gave the perfect ending to my meal, which I immensely enjoyed. 
Angus Tapa Centrale is one great place for carnivores, I kid you not, and I am so wanting to be back as they have a rather long list of drool-worthy offers to try. And by the way, I read on food authority site that Angus Tapa Centrale made it to No. 1 of their Top 10 Tapsilog for this year 2016 (not sure about the year, though, it could be 2015). Wow, it made me feel good to have eaten it! Hehe..
Don't waste your time imagining how Angus beef tapa tastes like, folks, 
and haul yourself off to Angus Tapa Centrale now. 
Happy eating! 

P.S. Angus Tapa Centrale is at #22 Malingap St., Teachers Village, Quezon City

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Of coffee and fond memories

Do you have that one foodie place that you keep coming back to not just because you love their food but also because of the memories it evokes? I do. It's Cafe France at Robinson's Place in Ermita, Manila. This coffee shop reminds me of the times I spend with my US-based sister whenever she comes vacationing. She would stay at the Adriatico Tower condo on Adriatico St. yearly when she's here, the reason we frequent restaurants at the said mall. Among our favorites is Cafe France for several reasons: 
it's near the entrance to the condo, the coffee and food are good, 
and there's free and reliable wifi. Sometimes, we wouldn't just be twosome when 
our eldest sibling would decide to join us.
These are what we order and love at Cafe France: 

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, regular, P180 

Seafood Soup, P130.

                                                                   CF Premiere Clubhouse, half, P110. 

Pizza Baguette Vegetarian, P120.

Pierre Tray Couture, P290.

Marguerite Tray Couture, P290.

 Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake, P145.

Red Velvet Bites, P50.

Café Latte, P110; Cappuccino, P110; Mocha Frappe, P155.

Fresh Lemonade, P95; Four Seasons, P95.

Everything is love, love, love! The salad, sandwiches, pizza, pasta--all are fresh, delicious and crave-worthy! One more thing I love at Cafe France is their 
Espresso Chocolate Cheesecake which is heavenly with its robust coffee flavor 
and just faint sweetness. My two sisters love the Tray Couture sets which 
are a complete meal (with a sandwich, pasta, soup, dessert and a drink) and were really filling and satisfying, they say.
Meanwhile, coffee, whether hot or cold, is pure bliss and is just the perfect 
drink to have with bread or dessert. The coffee, food and those 
conversations and the laughter I share with my sisters are 
among my treasure trove of memories from Cafe France, which I visit even 
when my sisters are not around. It's my go-to place
 for a quiet afternoon coffee.
By the way, Cafe France has recently opened a new branch at the Times Plaza at 
the corner of UN Ave. and Taft Ave. in Manila. This is just downstairs from the 
clinic where I consult with my doctors and also just a stone's 
throw away from our church. 
Happiness indeed!  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A 'less than perfect' lunch at Papa John's-Visayas Ave.

Papa John's was a not very recent addition to the growing number of restaurants on Visayas Ave. and is the fourth that specializes on pizza. Some weeks back, it was here where I treated my office group of friends for my birthday and we all enjoyed their yummy offers from the pizza, pasta and chicken. Some of us ate at Papa John's for the first time (including me!) and we knew from first bite that it would not be our last. 
What we had:

Seasoned Potato Wedges, P120.
Flavored Wings, P149., four pieces 
Super Papa pizza, P595., party size
Pesto pasta, P190.
Carbonara, P190.
Spinach Alfredo pasta, P90.
Papa John's at 87 Visayas Ave., Barangay Vasra, Quezon City

What I loved? Everything except for one thing which I will tell you about later. The food, all is excellent! The truth was that I wasn't expecting much from Papa John's because pizza and pasta are everywhere, they're a common thing to eat. But the freshness and tastiness of the food at Papa John's set it apart from the rest. Know what I mean? No fast food taste, that's what. It seemed to me that food prep and cooking here 
were done with no short cuts. 
I especially loved the three pasta dishes that we had as well as the chicken wings which had the perfect blend of flavors with just a sweetish hint and a delightful crunch. The pizza was not too thick in crust, which I like, with lots of cheese and meat and veggie toppings. A bite gives a nice burst of flavors - so yummy! 
So what's not to love at Papa John's? The slow service! Aargh! It was very annoying as it was my birthday treat so I wanted my friends to have an enjoyable lunch but our orders came one by one in huge intervals that we would be finished with one dish before the next would come. So although I loved everything we had, the meal, if I were to compare it to a novel, was "anti-climactic". Good thing the only crew who we saw there (she was both the cashier and server!) was apologetic, explaining that they were undermanned that day. Oh well, apology accepted. What else could we do? 
I hope this was the last time we would ever have such an experience at any Papa John's branch. Fortunately, the food was so good it overshadowed the inconvenience of slow service. And yes, I'd want to visit a second time soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Crab n' Crew answers your seafood cravings!

If you had been visiting my blog for quite some time, you know I go to work on Visayas Ave. in Quezon City, which is a long stretch that is, thankfully, home to many foodie destinations. I've gone to most of them in my 12 years of working in the area, 
and I sure do have favorites that I keep going back to. 
Last week was my first time at Crab n' Crew Restobar,  though, and I had a great time that sent me wondering what took me so long? I had two co-worker-friends with me and we ordered a bag of assorted seafood and rice for lunch. 

Butter Seafood Bag 
They have three other flavors of this - Bicolana, Chili and Szechuan.
We chose the buttered bag of seafood consisting of crabs, shrimps, mussels and squid, plus a cut-up cob of sweet corn. The seafood were fresh -- with meat that's both firm and tender and packed with the slightly salty and mildly sweet flavor from butter. I thought I would not be able to finish my cup of rice because it looked like a lot to me but I finished it in record time, thanks to the lip-smackingly delicious bounty from the sea. The only challenge, as you may have guessed, is removing meat from the crab and shrimp shells, but on the other hand, the anticipation makes one all the more appreciate the "reward" of something fresh and savory. 
 The only thing I don't like about Crab n' Crew's bag of seafood is their use of plastic. I wish they would just put the crabs, shrimps and everything in a huge wok or bowl, or even a stainless pail. It's because plastics, when heated, leach chemicals into food, that's why 
I've long ditched our plastic plates, bowls and glasses at home.
A bag of seafood, by the way, is good for 3-4 persons.
Clam chowder
One of my two friends ordered this but she wasn't so happy about it, 
though I forgot her explanation.

(Grabbed from Crab n' Crew's Facebook page)

Crab n' Crew Restobar at # 77 Visayas Ave., Quezon City

What a great lunch it was -- quite unlike most of our previous lunches out when we would have either pasta and/or chicken, or pizza, or burger and fries. Never mind that we didn't end our meal with something sweet as there was hardly any room left in our tummy.
I want a second time at Crab n' Crew real soon and surely, I would want you, 
folks, to try and enjoy it here, too. Aside from good food, service is
friendly and fast. Prices are reasonable, too!
Happy eating!