Commune

Trusting that a favourite restaurant is still in its established spot is one comfort in this ever-changing city. This was why I was surprised and saddened when I learned that the Commune had moved from HV Dela Costa Street in Salcedo Village. Here was where I had passed a few fun afternoons with friends, bonding over writing and this cafe’s crostinis and coffee. Fortunately it was not long till I learned that the Commune was now located at Poblacion, right in a neighbourhood that was fast becoming a food tripper’s haven.

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Lee and I decided to have dinner here after one exhausting work day, eager to seek some comfort in the familiar. Since we were feeling quite ravenous, we decided to try out some more substantial fare than the crostinis and sandwiches, as appealing as they seemed just from the menu descriptions alone. After a bit of discussion, we decided to try the pork longanissa and tomato pasta, as well as the pork adobo with salted egg relish.

Although the longanissa and tomato ragu was rather mild for our tastes, the pasta was cooked to al dente, lending a much appreciated texture to this dish.  The adobo was comfort food at its finest: well cooked in a flavourful sauce, and served over hot rice. The salted egg and tomato relish was a nice addition to offset the adobo, and helped round out the meal nicely.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that apart from its famous coffee concoctions, the Commune also offers a selection of juices and ‘non coffee’ drinks ranging from hot chocolate, teas, and juices. Any of these promise to be great accompaniments to the various dishes offered, both for solo scoffers and for hungry groups. However the coffee remains the main attraction here, particularly for the latte art featured in every cup.

Indeed there is no place like home for many people, and the Commune may qualify as such. It is a calm place in the middle of the big city, a touchstone so to speak. It is no wonder that it will be sought out, regardless of location.

The Food Score:  4/5: The Commune’s particular strength is in their sandwich and crostini creations, not to mention their coffee. This place does good things with rice but great things with bread.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: The restaurant gives one a great view of the bustling neighbourhood beyond its walls, but its ambiance does not join in the sound and the fury. In fact the premises are cozy yet sleek, a place to let one’s hair down and yet have some semblance of style.

GERD Score: 2/5: At least as far as heartburn triggers are concerned with things like cheese, eggs, and fried food, the Commune offers only a small selection that can be considered friendly to people with it.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5: Again, one thing we appreciate about restaurants and cafes is their having options in terms of foods and beverages, and the Commune has plenty of them. Aside from the non-caffeinated drinks we mentioned above, the cafe also has healthy food options such as salads and sandwiches. However of course, for those sensitive to preservatives, the sausage and tocino dishes may need to be skipped.
Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: This place is a calm, classy haven in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Poblacion. It’s a spot for comfort food, a bit of quiet before a night out, or simply just a place to unwind with friends. And for some people, that’s more than enough. \

Commune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Frosted Desserts

The name says it all. If one is looking for something sweet that comes with frosting, this cafe on the second floor of 57 Maginhawa Street may have something to offer. This place does not specialize in elaborate creations that overflow their dishes, but rather simply serves up cupcakes and ice cream sundaes, as well as milkshakes and coffee. It’s as straightforward as dessert cafes go.

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The various cupcakes and sundaes here are christened with cute and cheeky names such as Mr. Grey (an Earl Grey frosted cupcake), or Build Me Up Butterscotch (a butterscotch sundae). We opted though for the more straightforwardly named fare, namely the decadent chocolate cupcake, a Smore cupcake, and a mint chocolate chip milkshake. The cupcakes were rather mild in flavour, with little of the sickly sweetness so associated with desserts. The milkshake was also in the same vein, with only just enough flavour to call the concoction ‘minty’ but without much of a lingering impression on the tongue.

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As straightforward as this place is, it is not completely free of quirks. This cafe also hosts Barkin Bakes, a selection of healthy treats for dogs. This is a place worth checking out for food to bring home from a Maginhawa food trip, in lieu of the usual brown bag for one’s furry friend.  

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And that wraps up our four part Maginhawa Street trip. Any places here, or elsewhere in the city that you’d like us to visit? Drop us a line in the comments!

 

The Food Score: 3.5/5: While the food was tasty and filling, it was not much different cupcakes and brownies available in more mainstream establishments. More of the flavour in the cupcakes was in the frosting instead of the cakes, something which may not sit well with some finicky diners.

 

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5. The service was fast and the cafe’s interior tastefully decorated without being kitschy or borderline juvenile. All in all, easy on the eyes and the nerves.

 

GERD Score: 3/5. Since too much dairy or fried food is a road to endless burping in my case, there isn’t much options here, save the cupcakes in moderation.

 

Epilepsy Score:  4/5. At the very least the desserts we tried were not made with artificial sweeteners (we are wary of anything that is purportedly sugar-free). However aside from water and milkshakes, there are few options for diners eschewing caffeine.

 

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. As far as dessert cafes go, this is a sensible and straightforward establishment. However for diners looking for healthier eats or more exotic desserts, this place may not be for them.

 

Antiteasis

It is a widely acknowledged fact that a person in possession of a free afternoon may wish to pass it with a hefty supply of books and a delicious drink on hand. Fortunately there are several establishments along Maginhawa Street which see to these two needs all at once.  Among these places is Antiteasis, a teahouse-and-library located at the forefront of 154 Maginhawa Street. A traveller to this part of town may need to keep his or her eyes peeled; this place is not easily spotted in the smorgasbord of restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood.

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Antiteasis’ otherwise unassuming exterior belies its cozy and relaxed interior, wherein readers can comfortably lounge on floor cushions placed around small tables. A large bookshelf showcases a whole range of titles ranging from childhood favourites like Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew, all the way to nonfiction and biographies. Yours truly wound up engrossed for a time with a difficult to find title from one of her favourite writers in the field of neurology.  

Yet an avid reader should still definitely pay attention to the selection of teas, smoothies, and snacks available here at Antiteasis. During our afternoon jaunt here, we decided on the apple basil smoothie, as well as the strawberry Yakult smoothie. Much to my delight, the apple basil smoothie was light and just what we needed to cleanse our palates after a hearty lunch. I would daresay it was just as good as or even better than the traditional sorbets served for such purposes. The strawberry Yakult smoothie was also just as delicately flavoured, with a hint of sweetness mixing with the tartness of the fruit and the Yakult. This particular concoction could be considered a dessert on its own.

Antiteasis is certainly not one of those library cafes wherein one can hang out for hours and park a laptop for study or recreational purposes. It is however a place where one can curl up with a cherished book and a delectable beverage, and disappear from the frenetic world for a bit. In this increasingly frenetic world, this place is a haven. In short, absolutely necessary.

The Food Score:  4/5. The quality of the drinks we had here is definitely worth recommending. However the range of snacks available is rather narrow, and may discourage patrons who would rather have something heartier to enjoy alongside a good read.

Ambiance/Service Score:   4/5. The teahouse is rather tiny, and may feel poky or claustrophobic to some patrons. The indoor furnishings consist mostly of floor cushions and low tables, which may not be comfortable or good for the posture. However there are tables and chairs out on the patio for those who prefer to enjoy their drinks in more conventional settings.

GERD Score: 4/5. Thankfully, there’s tea and a variety of snack options for the discerning tastes that won’t cause burps and hurts. Also, since I drink more probiotic drinks than ever before for heartburn, the strawberry yakult option is a welcome dessert drink.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5. Of course there’s tea and coffee here, but there’s a wide range of herbal infusions and of course the smoothies for diners who cannot have caffeine. Patrons who are sensitive with regard to foods’ preservative contents may need to eschew some of the snack selections too. The muted tones of the decor and the calm ambiance are a great help too for people who find themselves a tad overstimulated in this urban environment.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5.  This place is a small but definitely promising library cafe. We look forward to hearing more about this haven.

Any places you would recommend Team Glasses to visit, whether in Maginhawa, Makati or just anywhere in the city? Let us know in comments or email!

Antiteasis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Chick

For the second part of the Maginhawa Street Adventures, is our first ever date in the area. Since my mind was zoned out from the law school entrance exam, we decided to go to Urban Chick, a place that Kat has been telling me about for some time now.

Nondescript outside, one wouldn’t think that the place is spacious, but it definitely is once inside. The wooden tables and chairs, along with the menu on chalkboards are a nice touch that makes the resto have a homey classroom diner feel to it. And there’s enough space to move around comfortably, which is a plus since the place normally sees groups of students at any given time throughout the week. The clucking chickens to call for service is a quirky and amusing add on, and their ground rules for their free wifi is definitely a reminder for each one to be kind and positive. Just like the owners.

First ones that came to our table were the garden salad for me and the croquettas for Kat. The salad had fresh vegetables but my preference would be with less dressing on mine. But the croquettas are a perfect appetizer, a crunchy exterior and a soft and creamy center, with just enough seasoning to wake one’s taste buds without ruining an appetite.

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Croquettas and Garden Salad

For our main meal, we shared six pieces of chicken wings coated in barbecue sauce with plain rice each. And I kid you not, the wings blew my mind with how flavorful they were, along with their right amount of crunch and the tenderness of the meat inside.

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BBQ Chicken Wings

The last one was the oreo balls and they were alright in balancing out the savory meal before, a soft treat to the palate.

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Oreo Balls

All factors considered, we’re definitely going back so we can have a go at their pastas and sandwiches. The place is perfect for a group of great friends and loved ones at student-friendly prices.

Food Score: 4.5/5. Besides the salad hiccup, I believe the food here is great. The menu is varied to accommodate all tastes, budgets, and appetites, ranging from solo snacks and portions, to platters good for a group of friends.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. Urban Chick is a restaurant that leaves one at ease with the furnishings and the casual feel of the place. They treat their clients not as clientele but as guests welcome into their own home, a place open for studying students, groups of friends, or in our case, as a couple out on a date

GERD Score: 4.5/5. While there are meals like the Alphan Meal that will trigger one’s heartburn like crazy because of the volume of food, there are still plenty of great options for anyone as long as they repeat the mantra ‘chew slowly and thoroughly’.

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. Hooray for fresh ingredients and natural seasonings! This place is a refreshing change from the stereotypical ‘unhealthy’ student fare of instant noodles and other overly processed nasties. Of course coffee is unavoidable in such a haunt (the Sweet Bae concoction packs quite a punch), but as always there are other options.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. Overall, Urban Chick is a must for any foodie travelling to Maginhawa. The walk from the other end of the long and winding street is worth every step, and best shared with friends.

Hi everyone, we’re taking in suggestions for our next food adventures  whether in Makati, Maginhawa, or anywhere in the Metro. Hope to hear from you soon!

Urban Chick BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Il Pittore Cafe

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For Team Glasses, this one is officially the start of our Maginhawa Street adventures together and for this one, my solo run and looking for a place to eat during the usual snacks in the afternoon. By a quick stroke of luck and proximity to where I was currently staying before my law school entrance exam, I found myself in Il Pittore, which means The Artist or The Painter in Italian. Hidden from view since it’s along the main street but tucked away in it’s own niche, it can be spotted readily enough with their distinctive sign.

Since it was cold outside after the rains, I decided on some soup first. When I visited, soup of the day was potato soup with hints of chopped parsley on top. I must say, that certainly hit the spot with its mild balance of flavors. Warm, hearty, and perfect for the cold.

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Potato Soup

Every thick and hearty soup needs some bread to go along with it. And lo and behold, I struck gold with their bruschetta. Simple ingredients of bread, a splash of vinaigrette, tomato slices, basil leaves, and shrimp, deceiving in its simple appearance, but to put it poetically, each bite leaves an array of colors that engulfs your tastebuds with its punches of flavor. In other words, a masterpiece.

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Brushetta

Throughout my stay, the owners Ryan and Olive were quite accommodating along with the coffee people outside, from what I needed to the story of how Il Pittore came to be. According to them, there’s a studio on the third floor, their fine dining room on second floor, and the actual cafe at ground level. I even got to do be part of the art but with a slight typo on the bruschetta, a perfect end to a great meal. I will definitely come back with Kat for more times to come when we have our Maginhawa food adventures.

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Food Score: 5/5. The food is balanced in its flavors and simple in execution, but their execution is what makes the food stand out and blend with the ambiance of the cafe.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. Hands down, the customer service is impeccable and the ambiance of painted murals and dim lighting make for a relaxed artistic vibe, a place where you can relax, write, and draw in peace.

GERD Score: 4.5/5. While not all the items on the menu are heartburn friendly, there are plenty of options to choose from and still get your money’s worth.

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. Well, what can I say? What’s an Italian place without coffee? It’s a necessary thing here. Fortunately, there are smoothies and other drinks to tide people over. Also the ingredients are fresh, with almost no use of preservatives. The use of cured or preserved meats is kept to a minimum here, thus making dining much safer.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. Il Pittore is a great place to eat, write, and create art for anyone with a taste for pasta, bruschetta, and doodling. The cafe’s has room for solo artists and groups of friends wanting their own niche to dine without the wine but in a private and cozy atmosphere.

Hi everyone, we’re taking in suggestions for our next food adventures  whether in Makati, Maginhawa, or anywhere in the Metro. Hope to hear from you soon.

il Pittore Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Persia Grill

Ah, Valentine’s Day: a big night for couples, traffic, and overbooked restaurants. According to a relative of mine in the restaurant business, this occasion is a major day for revenue if only for all the couples, families, and even groups of friends celebrating this holiday dedicated to the expression of romance. So this year, for Team Glasses’ first Valentine’s Day out, we decided we’d have to look beyond the lists of ‘romantic restaurants’ in the city. We eventually chose to go to an old favourite, Persia Grill.

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Luckily for us, there are several branches of this restaurant located in Metro Manila, with one of them found in the Greenbelt area. We arrived here in the early evening, before the dinner time rush. Right away, we were charmed by the restaurant’s cozy interior that still had distinctly Persian touches such as the elegant colored glass lamps hanging from the ceiling, and a small collection of traditional art prints on one wall. The overall effect was welcoming and classy, without resorting to Middle Eastern stereotypes just to make the restaurant live up to its name.

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We decided to try out the Peshgaza appetizer, which was a sampler platter of four dips and bread. The dips were salad oliveyeh (potato with chicken, herbs, and pickles), baba ganoush (roasted eggplant in olive oil), must o’ khiar (yogurt, cucumber, mint and onions), and hummus. The servings of this particular appetizer were generous enough for three to four people, or perhaps just two very hungry ones. All of these dips were flavourful yet not overpowering; in particular the must o’ khiar was perfect for cleansing the palate as a prelude to a hearty main course.

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I was determined to have Lee try out the gormeh sabzi, a favourite dish from some of my previous excursions to Persia Grill. This stew of slow-cooked beef, beans, and pickled gherkins is touted on the menu as a ‘national dish’. One bite was certainly enough to explain to us why this dish would be a worthy candidate for the title. Although the beef was not yet tender enough to melt in one’s mouth, it had been cooked long enough to pick up the flavours of rest of the ingredients. The stew itself was aromatic and spiced well without being too hot on the tongue, something we certainly appreciated during our leisurely dinner. We also opted to have Persian rice on the side, served still warm with butter on top. 

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Unfortunately this was still the busiest night of February, and by the time we thought of having dessert, we could see the place already beginning to fill up with couples and groups of friends also eager to celebrate. One of these days we’ll have to head back there to try the baklava and yogurt, among other concoctions on their menu. But that is another tale.

The Food Score:  5/5. Whether this is ‘authentic’ Persian food is still up for debate, but it doesn’t change the fact that the food in this restaurant is filling, tasty, and very friendly to diners who may not be as accustomed to Persian or other Middle Eastern cuisines. The spices go further than simply hot chilli, and employ a whole range of flavours to tickle one’s curiosity and fancy. The serving sizes are meant for sharing, so this is perfect for group or family nights out.

Ambiance/Service Score:   4/5. This particular branch of Persia Grill was a bit small, thus limiting the number of diners who could enjoy this place at any given time. Although some traditional Persian music was played on the speakers to add to the ambiance, the occasional selection of European classics occasionally detracted from the mood. The set of colored lamps are a nice touch, which caused Lee to reminisce his Friday rest-day adventures in the Middle East.

GERD Score: 4/5. While there are some dishes that could and perhaps will trigger one’s heartburn from their menu, a couple of advantages are that most of their meat options are grilled, and that they have a wide variety of food options to prevent burping episodes.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5. Perhaps the one drawback about this place is that it may not be easy for a diner to request for a dish to be made without ingredients that could trigger or aggravate seizures. However the menu offers a wide range of food and drink options, thus giving one a better opportunity to avoid trigger foods. The restaurant’s ambiance is relaxing and far from a sensory overload, thus reducing the likelihood of having a seizure induced by too much light or sound.
Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. We’re not picky about whether this is ‘authentic’ Persian food; we just love to eat and tell people about it. And this place fits the bill of ‘food to share’, both in terms of size and quality. Now, time for dessert.

Persia Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Green Pastures

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It was an easy weekend wherein we decided to go off from our usual Makati foodie haunts and tried a place called Green Pastures at Shangrila Mall for a late lunch with one of Kat’s longtime friends.

After placing our orders, I took a moment to glance around the place and to me at least, Green Pastures has a homey feel to it, giving the sense that one is in a ranch somewhere in the Midwest. I was actually curious about the pickled items on top of their shelves, but it’s perhaps a question best answered for another time.

This time around I ordered the ‘Vegetable burger that doesn’t suck’, and Kat had the Green Pasture’s carbonara. Our friend ordered the grilled cheese, which came with a side dish of tomato soup and camote chips. The grilled cheese sandwich and the soup were sumptuous, though the camote chips we deemed as being a bit on the bland side.

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Sauce and Camote Chips

Their actual vegetable burger patty was great because it does have a near meat-like texture and taste to it, which I loved. It brings out a complex layer of flavors to the taste buds. However, my gripe with it is the portion-size. The burger’s too large for me to fully consider it a burger because the moment I picked it up and tried to take a bite, part of the patty fell to the plate below due to gravity and width concerns. Arguably, I could have used utensils instead of eating it by hand, but that’s a matter of traditionalist preferences, eating burgers and pizza slices by hand. And then once one glances at the accompanying fries with hummus dip and it becomes a meal good for two.

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‘Veggie Burger that doesn’t suck’

The Carbonara on the other hand is something I’d like to try and share with Kat again next time because it didn’t come out as soggy after mixing, meaning it’s a well balanced dish. The carbonara was served with an interesting twist: a poached egg to mix and mash into the pasta. The flavors of the cheese and panchetta were not particularly sharp in this dish, thus making it light on the palate.

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Green Pastures’ Carbonara

All in all, we ended the meal by sharing my fries and while it may be on the pricier range as far as our past reviews are concerned, this place is really good as a treat for special occasions.

Food Score: 4/5. Taste-wise their food have a balanced feel to the palette and something one would look forward to finishing. The fresh organic ingredients make the flavors speak out for themselves and complement the different items on their menu.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4/5. For our stay there, their staff are attentive and the restaurant itself have a casual dining feel that we appreciate.

GERD Score: 2.5/5. Some of their single portions are too big for people dealing with heartburn, like in the case of the veggie burger. And I’ve noticed that most of the meals are dairy heavy on the ingredients too, so I do highly suggest bringing a friend or two and share meals here to lessen the acidity problems after eating. When all else fails, there are salads.

Epilepsy Score: 5/5. The menu here is very detailed, to the point of stating whether particular ingredients may have some preservatives or additives. It is easy for one to avoid any triggers here. This place prides itself on having gluten free and vegetarian options as well.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Overall, Green Pastures does a good job in bringing a farm-to-plate concept and making it their own. We think the place is still worth another visit from us and from people who enjoy great food.

Green Pastures Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato