At first glance, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) on 26th Street at the Fort looks just like any of its other stores, save for its sprawling size. But even upon cursory inspection, whether one be sitting in a car in traffic right outside or casually strolling by, the store’s interior design is cause for pause. It’s because of its massive glass windows you see, which span its frontage and make for easy gawking, just like Wildflour, and we all know Wildflour.
I’m here just for a coffee, as per my Sunday ritual, and am on my way to the counter to order when I get stopped by a server.
“Table for how many, ma’am?” is the question.
“Are you serious?” The words are out of my mouth before I know it. Don’t mean to be rude but I’m stupefied. The server smiles benevolently. She’s obviously been through this rigmarole before. “Yes ma’am, we’re a bistro and we’ll bring your order to you.”
Wide-eyed and with my jaw to the floor, my Bin takes my arm and leads me to a table, plopping himself down happily in a chair. He’s very much into interior design and is absorbing the store’s aesthetics. Truly arresting in its wood accents done in a palette of browns, a fabricated metal ceiling with a floral motif mimicked by the ceiling fans’ design, and a very slick coffee counter, it’s a mesh of modern and rustic. I, for one, can’t get over the place settings complete with sophisticated tableware. And these tables and chairs, I want to buy a set and bring one home!
I’m obviously still in shock when they hand the menus over and I ask for both an Americano and a Caramel Macchiato. (I desperately need something sharp and sweet). Then I’m told that only a single size is served at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Bistro, the 12-ouncer, a far cry from my wimpy 8-ounce daily coffee habit. But I order both anyway.
All the photos you see here are taken with my phone. The plan was to just dash in and get coffee so no point and shoot was planned. Or brought along. The coffees arrive in their familiar CBTL-emblazoned vessels, together with a graceful ceramic “boat” holding milk.
This Bistro is the first of its kind for CBTL in the country, closely following a similar concept in Singapore. A second Bistro is opening soon at the Shangri-La Mall in Ortigas. The menu states that the bistro idea spins off from their “… heritage of innovation and impeccable standards … a gustatory experience you won’t normally get in a[n] everyday atmosphere. Call it elevated casual cuisine. Call it your new foodie haven.” Nicely put.
There’s a full-fledged brekkie menu (P225-P395) consisting of Yogurt & Granola; French Toasts (Stuffed or Classic); Croque Madame; Eggs Ben; Steak & Eggs; and Filipino –silog breakfasts. Main entrees for other times of the day include everything from soups, salads, sandwiches like Portobello Mushroom on Ciabatta, to heavier mains (P335-P525) like Hanging Tender Steak with Potato Gratin & Marsala, Chicken Pot Pie, and Pesto Fusilli with Toasted Pine Nuts.
You’ll forgive me that I only order the Rum Caramel with Toasted Pecan Pancakes. It’s just one of the five pancake selections on offer, aside from the equally scintillating sounding Toblerone with Salted Caramel or Blueberry Pistachio. I’m still shell-shocked from this bistro discovery and even more so once my order arrives. “Floored” and “stupefied” are looking to be the words of my day but add “astounded” once this plate of pancakes is presented. Pancakes are my benchmark for a good breakfast place worth waking up for, and these are about six inches each in diameter and a good inch-thick. Massive and marvelous and capable of feeding three (easily!) able-bodied breakfast lovers, I love and tumble into them. Each cut of my knife sends up steams of complaint from the cakes, each forkful into the mouth is thick and heavy, but not unappealingly so. These are macho pancakes for men, and women like me with manly appetites.
One day soon, maybe next week, I’ll come back here and I’ll be ready. With my camera. Shaken out of my stunned state, I’m going to storm in and make this my weekly breakfast place. What an engaging environment with laudable service. For now, Maple is forgotten and Early Bird Breakfast Club (been there twice already) will stay on my back burner.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 26th St Bistro
G/F Net Lima Building, 5th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (It’s across the Mini Cooper showroom and is in the same building as Wildflour).
From 7-10am, a free 12-ounce cup of coffee comes with all brekkie items.