Most people are familiar with Nic’s Gourmet Desserts but not all are aware that it’s got its own little bakery-café.
If you’ve ever been to Seattle’s Best Coffee (SBC), then you’ve probably eaten a sweet made by Nic’s Gourmet Desserts. The Brownie Walnut Cluster (though I think it might be called otherwise in SBC) is a brownie bed laden with caramel sauce and walnuts. I’ve been told that it’s the same company that makes the coffee shop chain’s Banoffee Pie.
Nic’s Gourmet Desserts (Nic’s) is run by Rina Go who named her business after her daughter, Nicole. Already a fan of their Mega Cheese Bread, a staple of mine when I’d chance upon their stall at bazaars, I’m happy to chance upon their eponymous bakery-café deep in the heart of San Juan. This is the location I chose to be shot in for MEGA magazine’s Global Pinoy feature on me. But so out of the way is this location that the makeup crew had difficulty finding it.
I think it’s their location and stylized interiors that contribute to its charm however. Made up to look like a wrapped gift (cake!) box when viewed from the outside, Nic’s operates out of a square storefront, with white and silver predominating. Shelves hold knickknacks and bottled foods but the focus is on the interactive dessert bar where enticement is encouraged and acted upon and lit up beautifully with fitted drop lights. In addition, the natural light streaming in makes the bread products (my favored Mega Cheese Bread, Parmesan Ensaymada, Cinnamon Rolls, etc) especially enticing, scintillating they already are in their cellophane sheets.
A few steps more and there stand the line of glass chillers. The cakes are fastidiously arranged, each perfectly produced and prettified for maximum “kill me with choice” appeal. Naturally, I want a slice of everything, it’s my nature after all. But my restraint is with me today so I settle on three desserts.
The Peach Walnut Pie (lower right in photo) is – if you like sansrival-like desserts – probably the best you’ll try in Manila. I’m not one for meringue or meringue layers stacked atop one another and lacquered with all sorts of buttercream, but my Bin is. He’s rabid about them in fact and I must agree that this specimen before us is exceptional. The meringue layers have an incredulous crackle, their bellies brushed with a lightly sweetened buttercream while peach slices and wayward walnuts merrily add to the mix.
Similar in sentiment but ratcheted up for a more sultry surrender is the Dark Toblerone Sans Rival. Again, those meringue layers – the irresistibility of which I may have underestimated – are a glorious melding of chocolate and nougat (Toblerone!), cashews, and dark buttercream, a crown of all combined is its final garnish. There really is no conversation at the table now, just a combination of crunching and forks cracking into crispy exteriors.
And what of the cakes? Nic’s has plenty to choose from and agonize I do over having to whittle it down to just one. Dark Caramel? Dulce de Leche? I decide on the Dark Javanilla, a composition of coffee and chocolate, tender crumb cloaked in a buttercream kissed by coffee essence. It dependably satisfies my sweet tooth and sometimes, this is the kind of chocolate cake I need.
I’ve only begun to touch on what’s available at Nic’s. This place stands up to and deserves further exploration. They serve full meals and since they’re open at 7am, breakfast makes for a fine option, especially on the weekend when getting lost in San Juan doesn’t make for such a frightening proposition.
My only complaint about Nic’s is that it seems to be overstaffed and a gaggle of them group by the cashier prattling away. Perhaps we can suggest some of them retire to the kitchen so that these fine desserts can be savored properly?
Nic’s Gourmet Desserts
172 A. Mabini St., Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan, Mandaluyong
Open 7 days a week, 10am-10pm
02 715.5831 / 716.0321
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicsbakeshop
On Multiply: nicsbakeshop.multiply.com