Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab

The mention of ‘organic dining’ or ‘farm to table’ restaurants often evokes images of greenery, warm brick red walls and wooden benches, and lengthy menus describing the ingredients and cooking styles of featured dishes. However, Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab defies this type by combining café-style meals and gelato under one cheery roof.

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In keeping with its floral name—as il fiore is translated from Italian as ‘the flower’, this small café on Salamanca Street in Poblacion is decked out in pastel tones that provide a cheery contrast to its steel-and-glass environs. The menu is straightforward and reader-friendly, providing diners with a no-nonsense look at what they will be ordering. On the other hand, the novelty lies in the gelato selection, which features some unusual flavors such as mango-dragon fruit and hazelnut.

During our visit here we sampled the dark chocolate ganache gelato, as well as the portobello mozza burger, and the spinach and squash lasagna. The gelato was thick and luscious on the tongue, with creamy chocolate bits adding to the dessert’s deep flavor. Clearly there were no corners cut in the making of this gelato.

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When we got our first sight of the portobello mozza burger, the first thought that popped in our minds was “How are we going to eat this?” Our knives and forks seemed too meagre for this task. After a little consideration, we realized there was no other way but to simply pick up the burger and bite into it, letting the melted mozzarella cheese ooze out along with the juiciness of the mushrooms. The alfalfa sprouts and tomato relish complemented the richness of the burger patty, providing some much needed cleansing to our palates.

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The spinach and squash lasagna on the other hand was surprisingly light on the palate, even with the layers of tomato, béchamel sauce and cheese. The dish’s overall mildness made it easy to finish, however we felt that a sharper cheese or combination of cheeses would have brought a bit of a kick to the pasta.

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Il Fiore Earth Café and Gelato Lab also features other interesting entrees like mushroom chips and quinoa chili shepherd’s pie, as well as a small array of cakes, pastries, tea, coffee, and yogurt drinks. This is a promising alternative to coffee shops and cafes, especially for patrons who desire healthy yet substantial meals to go with a hot drink or delectable dessert.

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The Food Score: 4/5: The dishes here have an excellent balance of flavors, though at times they play a bit too safe on the palate. The gelato though is this place’s biggest strength.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The ambiance is cheery yet relaxing, good for a casual meetup with friends or holing up for a few hours to read or use a computer. However we noticed that this place uses disposable boxes and cutlery for serving, despite the presence of more environmentally friendly alternatives.

GERD Score: 3/5: Given the selection of meals they have, most of them aren’t heartburn friendly at all, either with the portion size that’s good for sharing, or the amount of cheese put in. But to their credit, they also have selections that are perfect for people dealing with heartburn such as yogurt and their gelato.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: The dishes here are not too strongly seasoned, thus allaying most concerns about artificial seasoning. There are not too many non-caffeinated drink offerings on the menu though, which may be a bit off-putting to some cafégoers.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5: We feel that this place has some promise in terms of concept a well as a few dishes, but there is still some room for improvement. On the whole though it is a cafe worth stopping in, or even lingering in for an hour or two with good food and excellent gelato.

Il Fiore Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food

Amid all the brightly colored establishments on Jupiter Street, one particular restaurant that has caught my attention for some time is a quiet, homey looking nook on the corner of Jupiter and Saturn Streets.  It’s this unassuming facade, as well as a recommendation from a relative, that brought us to the Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food—and one of the best dining experiences that Team Glasses has had so far.

We arrived here just past 6:30pm, eager to avoid the dinner rush. Right away we felt welcome in this cozy cafe, which was lit warmly with candles and old-fashioned lanterns on the tables and the counter.  Old pictures and simple prints added to the establishment’s intimate ambiance. It was enough to have us deciding to have a full course meal there, instead of just ordering one or two entrees and heading elsewhere for dessert.

For starters, we had Spanokopitas, a Greek appetizer consisting of spinach in filo pastry, served with a mint yogurt dip. This dish was served to us still warm, allowing us to appreciate the subtle flavour of the spinach combined with the mild tartness of the mint yogurt dip. It was exactly what we needed to whet our appetites in preparation for the entrees.

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Lee decided to try the Veg Bibimbap, which consisted of a variety of vegetables and mushrooms, served with red rice and a small saucer of kimchi. Although Lee had to remove some of the spicy bean paste that served as seasoning for this dish, we found that this did not detract too much from the taste of the bibimbap as a whole. All in all, this dish was very filling, leaving only a slight tingling on the tastebuds as opposed to a searing spiciness in the throat.

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I chose the North African Vegetable Stew, which was a mix of vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices, served over either red rice or couscous. For adventure’s sake I chose couscous, and I am happy to say that I did not regret this. The couscous was light on the palate yet very filling. As for the vegetables, they were served still warm and crisp, and nowhere near limp or soggy. Although I was warned that this dish contained capsicum, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hotness of this dish was not overwhelming, but just enough to give some more kick to the food’s light flavours. There was only one thing wrong with this dish: there wasn’t enough of it!

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For dessert we had the Chocolate Mousse with Dark Toblerone. I was half expecting a very thick and rich concoction, but I was delighted to be greeted with a light, delicately flavoured confection topped with almonds. The mousse had just the right amount of sweetness to make its chocolate flavour more appealing even for diners who are not into dark chocolate. This, as well as a pot of hot tea, was the perfect conclusion to our already very filling and satisfying meal.

The Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food may be considered as one of the more hidden gems on Jupiter Street, but it is definitely one worth a visit…or maybe two or more. It’s proof that eating healthy and vegetarian can be fun and delicious, something worthy of gourmets and gourmands alike.

The Food Score:  5/5. The menu is proof that vegetarian food is far more than salad: everything from burgers to Filipino favourites such as adobo and sinigang can be found here.  There are also weekly specials (written on a blackboard) that offer diners new dishes in addition to the already expansive selection here. The quality of the food is excellent and the dishes are reasonably priced. There are even potluck options for those who wish to order in bulk to bring some of this  goodness to events.

Ambiance/Service Score:   5/5. The cafe allows for an intimate dining experience; soft lighting, cozy arrangements of the tables, and relaxing music all add to this atmosphere. The menu here is printed in a very user friendly manner, showing which dishes are gluten free, or which have capsicum. A small glossary also accompanies the menu. The staff members are very welcoming and are more than happy to provide clarifications about the menu

GERD Score: 5/5. Because of the chili-induced heat for that Bimbimbap and other meals, the café / restaurant elaborates and puts out warnings for their diners if a certain dish has capsicum or spices. And even if you can’t get a certain dish, there’s plenty of delectable options still. Other than that, I definitely recommend the place, even if you’re dealing with heartburn.

Epilepsy Score:  5/5.  Finally we found a place that explains the ingredients as well as tries its best to source food from organic sources. Although this is a cafe, there is a wide selection of non caffeinated drinks such as juices and even lassi (a yogurt drink) for diners who are sensitive to caffeine.
Team Glasses Score: 5/5. Yes, we will definitely be back for more. It  is not often we get to dine at a place wherein the food is just as welcoming and healthy as the ambiance, and we consider the Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food as one of those that hit the spot.

Corner Tree Cafe Vegetarian Food 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