Indulgence Deli Café is a place that pleases me when I’m in the Legaspi Village area of Makati. Situated at the very end of a tree-lined street, leaves do a dance on my head before falling ever so languidly to the ground. It sounds more romantic than it is really, because there are cars parked on both sides of the road, parking is more than a nuisance and so are the security guards, come to think of it. But those are all just inconveniences, and imagine my glee when I come upon the sign proclaiming Indulgence Deli Café. I practically ignore the Sugarhouse that’s beside it.
Indulgence possesses a casually put-together charm ”“ shiny tabletops and black-backed chairs are an eclectic match to the wood and ceramic accents of the room. At the front, glass cookie jars clash for space with flavored syrups and juice dispensers. A colorful blackboard detailing the specials (pizza, pasta, meats) hangs above the counter. You can order real meals here ”“ the sausage pasta looks good, the panini is frightfully small, the pumpkin soup is reputedly the favorite of the owner of a major shoe store ”“ but frankly, I’m not paying attention. It’s the desserts I’m after.
Depending on my luck, the display counter will either be a cornucopia of plenty or empty shelves staring back at me, mirroring my disappointment. At Indulgence, I have to be there when the cakes come in otherwise I end up with the cakey remains left over by the Makati corporate jungle that invades the place during lunchtime. I blame them for my never having tried the house specialty which is Death by Chocolate, a conglomeration of all things obviously chocolate.
But I have tried the other cakes, happily enough, as well as owner Rescy Bhagwani’s newest creation, pili yema. Looking very muck like Mexican wedding cookies, thick round discs of egg custard envelop a smattering of crushed pili nuts, a specialty of the Bicol region. With a texture that has slightly more “bite” than what I expect in a yema, the smoothness alternates with bits of pili. It’s all too easy to pop more than two in my mouth and then wonder where the rest have gone.
The real looker in Indulgence’s cake line is the self-described Indulgence Torte (cover photo), a visual play of dark and light: chocolate cake, crÃ¨me Brulee, and chocolate mousse sitting prettily together. The latter components reflect the denseness of the chocolate cake and stand up well to it. Think: a chocolate cake taken to sleeker, more inner-urban heights.
A passion for purple foods fueled by a childhood filled with Red Ribbon’s ube cake has led me to try a somewhat disastrous ube buttercream cake and a bordering-on-the-celestial ube cheesecake of Billy King. Now, another ube dessert has come to peck at my indulgent whim. A sponge cake is the base on which a unique ube “mousse” sits. Lightened with whipped cream, the ube flavor retains much of its integrity, ringing true like the purple tuber from whence it came. Its thin ganache coat proves yet again that anything ”“ yes, even ube ”“ pairs perfectly with chocolate.
Though she’s owned Indulgence for more than two years, Rescy relies on suppliers for her desserts. “I’m more of a cook,” she tells me. Very proud of Indulgence’s main dishes, she urges me to come back and try them. (I’m ashamed to tell her that in my numerous visits to Indulgence, I’ve yet to try a dish that isn’t sweet). As we talk, I sip my cappuccino while praising its earthy fullness. “It’s local coffee you know,” Rescy preens. She’s very easy to talk to, and at times, our boisterous laughter fills the space of the cozy café.
Though I’m a purist when it comes to cheesecake, I’ll make an exception for the Brownie Cheesecake ”“ an attractive mass of brownies claiming ownership of their little piece of cheesecake real estate. Not too sweet (just like all of the desserts at Indulgence), it’s awfully satisfying sans gelatin, thank god!
I must say that while I’m happy with Indulgence and envious at the denizens of Legaspi Village for having such a café in their midst, there are times when the desserts have tasted like they’ve spent too much time chilling out in the display. There’s that “refrigerator taste” that’s cloying and insistent, no matter how many sips of water I take. I don’t feel that the cakes themselves are old ”“ I’ve seen the high turnover of the place ”“ but I suspect perhaps the chiller itself needs to be given a good airing out. It’s that or a small container of baking soda placed discreetly in the corner of the chiller will suck away all the impurities.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED.
Indulgence Deli Café
116 Perea St.
Legaspi Village, Makati City
Open: Monday-Saturday, 7am ”“ 10pm