It's always a delightful experience stepping inside Café 1771. I'm a sucker for pretty colors and arresting color combinations, so just drinking in the interiors and decor of both The Whimsy and The Lounge sections is good enough of a time. Place my personal cheesy favorites on the table, Raclette (P350) and Melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Cheese SW (P280), as well as their signature dessert darling, the Coffee Pie (P220), and you're bound to treat all your senses, from palette to palate.
For the whole month of July, patrons can look forward to trying out something new each weekday lunch at the cafe: Daily Specials can be ordered from 11am to 2:30pm. Each entree is in the P430-P490 price range, and most of these new items have generous servings. 'We also decided to create a theme for each day,' Chef Gus Sibayan shares. They had so many food ideas during brainstorming for this special menu, that they decided to offer them on separate days.
If you're up to trying Café 1771's Daily Specials every day, then mark your calendars--here's a week's worth of virtual food trip for you!
Served with the soup of the day and fresh greens, you can choose between the Corned Beef Reuben Sub (P450) and the Parmesan Crusted Monte Cristo (P450). We sampled the first sandwich, which has chunks of the pink tender meat that's a signature of the homemade corned beef of Cafe 1771's sister restaurant, Sentro 1771. "It's the same corned beef as the sinigang corned beef in Sentro," Chef Gus confirmed. Instead of sauerkraut in the sandwich, there is warm cabbage slaw that is just slightly tangy. The eight inch whole wheat sub also has swiss cheese inside it.
Corned Beef Reuben Sub
Good old fried chicken and ribs await you on the second day of the week with Country Style Fried Chicken Leg (P430) and the Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce (P480). It will definitely be a Tasty Tuesday with the fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, two tender slabs good enough for two. The meat isn't swimming with the barbecue sauce, but a bite into the pork reveals its flavors shine beyond the glaze. The ribs are crisp on the edges, yet tender within, and goes excellent with the mashed potatoes and vegetables for that play of textures. Your tastebuds will definitely have a good time with his one!
Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce
Cafe 1771 serves up a classic and a modern take on a couple of well loved Filipino dishes during Wednesday lunch hours with their Beef Short-Plate Pochero (P470) and Twice Cooked Pork Rib Bicol Express (P450). "The bicol express came about since one of our Bicolano cooks suggested it," Chef Gus shares. Their take on this traditional pork and coconut cream combination gives the dish special treatment, with tender pork ribs cut into thick chunks, and its sauce just slightly spiced (not tongue-wagging hot). Of the two choices, I fell in love with the pochero, a big bowl (good for two) of beef cubes, chorizo, sweet potatoes and banana, corn, beans, bokchoy and chick peas. Not a lot of restaurants serve pochero, so it's great that this one (slow cooked with bone marrow!) is deliciously hearty, just like the way your favorite tita or lola makes it for special family gatherings. Both home-style meals for hump day come with rice, and a choice of dessert -- Baked Mango Cheesecake or Banana Hazelnut Trifle. It's good that the cafe understands the Filipino gene of having a sweet tooth!
Twice Cooked Pork Rib Bicol Express
Beef Short-Plate Pochero
It's twirl-your-fork Thursdays for lunch with two pasta dishes: Fennel Seed Scented Scampi and Calamari Linguine Marinara (P490) and Chicken Piccata on Creamy Pesto Linguine (P470). The chicken and pesto linguine is served on a big plate to complement its big serving--again, good enough for two! The pasta dish is good in that straightforward way: al dente pasta, creamy sauce, and crisp breaded chicken. I think the kids will enjoy chowing down on this; nothing fancy, pesto flavors just subtle, simply comfort food all the way.
Chicken Piccata on Creamy Pesto Linguine
Welcome the last workday with a 'TGIF' feast with Miso-Glazed Salmon in Warm Soba Salad (P490) and 5-Hour Roasted US Beef Belly (P490). I wasn't able to try the beef belly, so I will leave its flavors to my imagination (and I'm pretty confident about Cafe 1771's slow cooking goodness evident in their other dishes). The Japanese dish, salmon in soba, was what my palate was looking for after tasting the more indulgent and hearty entrees of the other days. The two slices of seared miso glazed salmon are cooked perfectly, and rest on a bed of noodles with a dressing of soy, sesame, and ginger. Clean, subtle, and compatible flavors and textures. It also comes with a bowl of miso infused vegetable soup to complete the Japanese experience.
Miso-Glazed Salmon in Warm Soba Salad
Of course, your cafe favorites will still be available for partaking during these days. And don't forget to pair your lunch with something sweet---share your dessert with lunchmates to make it even more sweeter (and the calories lesser).
Our sweet refreshers for that day were Stanley Sunrise (P195) and Espresso Upside Down Float (P200). The first drink is a shake made with mint, watermelon, and grapefruit; the coffee drink is what I call 'reverse affogato.' I imagine it's what an affogato would look like if it were to do a handstand -- a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom part of the glass, while a pool of hot espresso rests on top of it. The cherry sitting on the bottom is, well, the cherry on top, for this coffee-based beverage.
Espresso Upside Down Float
Cafe 1771 also bakes their own Macarons. At P40 a piece, you can choose from many flavors such as Strawberry, Chocolate Mint, Orange, Coffee, Vanilla, Blueberry, Pistachio, Lemon, and Chocolate. I was able to nibble on some, and observed that the texture and chewiness of their macaron vary from flavor to flavor. Among the ones I tried, I enjoyed the Coffee, Vanilla, and Lemon the most, Coffee being the strongest tasting and the chewiest.
Curious how a Ferrero Rocher would be like if it were a cake? Order a Rose Noire (P250). It's one of the restaurant's all-time favorites, and it's easy to see why. The harmonious combination of dark chocolate ganache, meringue, and hazelnut praline sings with every forkful you place into your mouth. This is a dessert I want to be selfish with.
A cake I do not want to be selfish with, though, is definitely their Chocolate Excess (P295). Just from the name itself, you know you're in for a whopping chocolatey good time. It's an indulgent dessert of Valrhona chocolate ganache, chocolate glaze, served with a cherry and candied orange on top. Looks pretty harmless, but a single bite will definitely overwhelm the chocoholic in you. Share this cake, it's not called Chocolate Excess for nothing!
Café 1771's Daily Specials are available all Weekdays for the entire month of July, from 11am to 2:30pm. A new set of Daily Specials dishes await in August. Craving for a dish you tried on a day that it's not available? Try calling and ordering it 2-3 days in advance, they might just cook it especially for you!
Images by JA Atienza.