Once in a while I get a chance to while my time away with friends, especially over great food. Last Saturday was one of those days, dining with blogger friends and discovering comfort foods and old favorites with a twist at Manilabake. This bakery cafe was established by Serye Cafe Filipino on July 2012. Located along Katipunan Avenue, the place is close to where I live but it looks like I’ve been too busy that I missed it. I’m glad I learned about Manilabake by Serye Cafe Filipino.
The cafe started off as a bakery where one simply drops by to buy bread and other goodies. Offering breads, cakes, pies and other pastries that are considered heritage recipes made the traditional way is interesting. From the looks of it, foodies caught on as Manilabake evolved into a small cafe offering not only baked goodies but meals as well. The place is quite small and can only accommodate a handful of customers, roughly 24. That’s something I like because then dining becomes more intimate and the service more personal.
After getting settled, we all started our meal with Kesong Puti Puttanesca, an introduction to Manilabake’s twist on its cooking. I love pasta and this one was made special because of the very Filipino Kesong Puti, although i would have loved it more if there’s more of it, a cheese person that I am. Then Chicken Pot Pie and Shepherd’s Pie a la Cubana were served. The puff pastry covers the chicken simmered in San Miguel beer. The puff pastry itself has a particular flavor, and complements the tender chicken which reminded me of my mother’s cooking. My reminiscing was suddenly interrupted when I tasted the Shepherd’s Pie.
The Shepherd’s Pie is usually made of lamb meat and mashed potatoes. At P195, Manilabake’s version is ala Cubana enveloped in mashed sweet potato and mashed potato. The sweet potato made the dish special and it’s one of my favorite now. Looks like I have a comfort food here. Then came a true comfort food with roots traced back during childhood – Champorado.
We love this chocolate-flavored porridge, perfectly paired with “Tuyo” eaten on a rainy day. But I can have it anytime, raining or not, even paired with nothing. Manilabake’s version has Tapol, a wild rice which I enjoyed in the form of “Biko” cooked by my mom or aunt. The Tapol is chewy on the Champorado, giving this old favorite a character. It tasted even better because of the coconut milk poured over. Yummy!! I know I can have more than one bowl of this anytime of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner – including snack time.
And speaking of snacking, we also got to taste Manilabake’s breads, pies, and other pastries. Let me share the ones I truly enjoyed.
Manilabake’s loaves are soft, fluffy and delicious. We had Cinnamon Raisin and Chocolate Swirl and i enjoyed both. The former because of the cinnamon that played with the raisins as one bites into the bread, the latter with the generous chocolate swirls that can be seen from innermost of the loaf. Ms Gretchen Lim, the bakery cafe’s owner, pointed out that the breads are handmade. After mixing and kneading the doughs, they’re left in a cool dry place to full develop in flavor and structure. Veering away from the modern way of making bread that is common these days, they don’t use quick-fixes such as too much yeast or sugar or heat, which causes the dough to rise quickly, affecting the flavor. The loaves of bread sold at this bakery is not of uniform shape and size, simply because it’s allowed to develop on its own.
I can attest that their baked goodies have less sugar. Their Banana Cream Pie is proof to that fact. I enjoyed eating it, and feels like I can finish the entire single serve size. I tried other cafe’s version of this pie and it was really heavy on my tummy. There was even a time when I got tired of it after 2-3 bites. Not Manilabake’s Banana Cream Pie, definitely not! I tasted a hint of flavor on the cream, plus the treatment on the bananas was perfect that it didn’t feel heavy. Lastly, I love the flaky yet chewy crust.
I’m not a fan of Pineapple Pie because the ones I have eaten before either tasted stale pineapple or just a pineapple-flavored filling made of “i don’t know what” sort of thing. Manilabake’s offering is refreshing and is made of real Pineapple. Aside from not being too sweet, I can really feel the fiber as I sink my teeth on the filling. I also couldn’t help but notice how consistent the quality of their pie crust was. Like the one on Banana Cream Pie, Manilabake’s Pineapple Pie is also flaky and chewy, not the dry kind.
The most surprising baked treat for me at this bakery cafe is Calamansi Cupcake. The flavor is just right; it didn’t overpower the entire cupcake. The sweet, citrus flavor is such a cool twist to the usual cupcakes. It’s very refreshing. It became an instant hit in our group.
it is evident that Manilabake is very particular about the ingredients they use. I learned they opt for unbleached, chemical-free flour, and also uses Pangasinan sea salt and their own sourdough starter for their breads with the “right amount” of commercial yeast used as additive. They also aim to promote ingredients that are common or made in the country as they source the rest of the ingredients locally. They use milk bought off the local dairy, eggs from the local farm, calamansi from the city market, wild honey from Palawan, muscovado from Sultan Kudarat, tablea chocolate from Malagos, cashews from Bataan, longganisa from Vigan, buffalo mozzarella from Nueva Ecija, and coffee from Benguet and South Cotabato, just to name a few.
It’s great to discover new foods in addition to comfort foods and old favorites with a twist at Manilabake. Make sure to visit this bakery cafe is located at 206-A Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge A, Quezon City. Here are the other items that you can order.