Once upon a time, most Filipinos only ate rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fortunately, our palates have tasted new flavors and acquired more liking for food other than our staple grain. Thanks to Plaza Cafe, one of the newer players in the Legazpi Village food game, for putting fresh, homemade sandwiches within our radar once again.
Located in Corinthian Plaza at the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Gamboa Street, the casual cafe is reminiscent of an 80s fast food chain with beige wooden furniture and off-white walls. Near the entrance, the counter greets you with a see-through kitchen and shelves of board games and books that are available for use while you're in the cafe.
I spotted some Archie comics, travel guides and pocket books. For the game lovers, there's a wide selection like Taboo, Scrabble, Monopoly, Jenga, chess, and UNO. You probably would have to stay the entire day and be really bored to finish playing all of them.
We were able to try several of the cafe's sandwiches. Although, they also offer salads and soup. Right now, they offer a good deal of half a sandwich and a salad or soup.
Ask their server for the soup of the day, or their recommended salad for your choice of sandwich.
If you're hungrier, you can opt for a whole order of panini. The Chestnut Hill (P275) is highly recommended. Perfectly toasted cranapple (a combination of cranberry and apple) bread sandwiches a generous serving of turkey, ham, and red onions. A slice of cheddar cheese and a smearing of barbecue sauce complete the ensemble. It's tasty without being unhealthy, and it's completely filling. Maybe, more filling than your regular snack.
Another must-try panini is the New England Classic (P285), which uses the slightly sweet cranapple bread, as well. In between the lightly grilled bread is turkey ham, cheddar cheese, slices of Granny Smith apple and honey mustard.
New England Classic
There's a selection of freshly-made sandwiches, as well. Unlike a panini, it's not pressed nor grilled. The Turkey and Brie (P295) is a best seller—it has turkey ham, brie, tomato slices, lettuce and honey mustard—all sandwiched inside their signature cranapple bread.
Turkey and Brie
The Chicken Club (P250) is easily a favorite because it has chunks of chicken breast and crispy bacon. While it has honey mustard and vegetables, the highlight here is really the salty-sweet crunch of the bacon playing with the slight sourness of the mayo in the chicken salad.
Pair your sandwiches with thick slices of potato crisps, called Frips, which combine the thin, crispy bite of potato chips with the distinct homemade flavor of French fries. A extra order of these highly addicting crisps will set you back P50, but every crunch is worth it.
The paninis and sandwiches are prepared right after you pay at the cashier, so you can be sure they're fresh and not soggy. You can even watch as their servers put your order together.
If you're craving something sweet for dessert, there's an assortment of cookies and brownies displayed on the counter, along with their poll for the week (which is really a nifty way to encourage patrons to give tips).
I asked one of the co-owners of Plaza Cafe why they put up a sandwich shop in a rice-eating city, and he shrugs, “We just want a place where we can enjoy good sandwiches. Simple, nothing fancy.” True to form, indeed, Plaza Cafe is your unassuming neighborhood shop where you can always expect consistently good sandwiches, and a homey, unassuming ambiance that makes for a good hangout place.
Plaza Cafe is open Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 2am. Delivery and Pick-up available. Like Plaza Cafe on Facebook: (Facebook.com/plazacafemakati) for updates.