Pretty Plates, Pretty Places

Cafés as beautiful as the food they serve.

I don’t usually take photos of the places I eat in, it’s just not my thing for several reasons – the privacy of other patrons comes to mind; and I often get lost in the food anyway. But the following places are so thoughtfully conceived and well-designed that I can’t help but take photos. When ambience matters, these places will please.

Café Shibuya
Absolutely nowhere near me, coming over here entails military-like precision and planning. I hate that because I like it here so much. Just like Caffé Bene, Café Shibuya is a paean to thick toasts.

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Of course I’m immediately drawn to the cluster of chalkboard art.

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A kitchen with equipment evocative of its fare: rolled, topped, served.

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The Original Shibuya Honey Toast, the regular (P175) version, because who am I to get the baby portion (P145)? As purist as can be, and a pleasure it is. The toast is exceptional, feather-light and blissfully buttery, a pillow on which the honey and vanilla ice cream come to rest, then melt…

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Another of the things they do well here, the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Latte (P145). Technically, this is a mocha but who cares.

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The poached egg arrives overdone on the Shibuya Benedict (P255) but they willingly replace it with another (wetter) one.

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In Manila, the best Japanese hamburger is found at Arafu Café but Café Shibuya does a comparable version.

Scarsdale was the name of the diet that I was on in high school. I don’t remember much about it except that I was ingesting large amounts of yogurt and cheating on cold mangoes. Go figure.

Anyway, this Scarsdale is much better. An ode to resident Chef Carlo Miguel’s time spent in Scarsdale, New York, and a glamorized re-do of GoNuts Donuts. The bakery-café’s interiors are cleverly designed, and there are many well-lit nooks perfect for positioning and picture-taking.

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Flowcharts and diagrams – gustatory guides of sorts.

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They serve brunch but today I’m just having the specials: the croughnuts and donuts.

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You can take GoNuts Donuts out of the mall but it’s still the same donut. It’s gummy and wrong, texture-wise. The server is kind enough to nuke it for a few seconds though, upon request, and it’s slightly improved.

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I much prefer the croughnuts here. There are the little bites and the regular sized specimen here is their banner Carlo’s Favorite. My favorite cronut is the one from Yamato Bakery but this comes second – on the condition that it’s freshly cooked which this one is. The dulce de leche filling gushes out gloriously, a contrast to the crisp and crunch of the pastry’s spiral layers.

Toby’s Estate

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My coffee guru friend Zarah and I are in Toby’s Estate on the day they open last March. We have the place to ourselves and we love it. I’ve been back once since then but I’ve yet to try their food. Still, no one can deny how understatedly stunning this place is.

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This is how it looked when food wasn’t served yet.

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On that first day, we’re taken behind the bar and shown how this Italian Stallion of an espresso machine works. It’s painfully gorgeous to look at. And touch.

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Nowadays, everyone knows about the off-menu Gibraltar, and the deeply chocolate Hot Chocolate. But I’ll still swear by the Americano any day. Because I’m a purist.

This is an incredible place with truly superlative coffee.


Café Shibuya
G/F UP Town Center, Katipunan, Quezon City
Open daily from 10am.
On Facebook & Instagram: CafeShibuya

Scarsdale Artisanal Delights
514 Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.
Open daily from 9am-9pm.
On Twitter and Instagram: @scarsdale_ph.

Toby’s Estate
3rd Level, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue corner Salamanca Street, Makati

125 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati
Open daily from 7am.
On Instagram: TobysEstatePH

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