I had hoped to get to M Café by 9:30 in the morning, but my Bin tends to get obsessive-compulsive whenever he’s busy with something. He’s recently acquired a power drill and is busy making holes in the walls for god-knows-what and for only god-knows-how-long.
But it’s true what they say that all good things come to those who wait, and as some Singaporean affirmed to me: “Good food must wait”. At M Café this weekend, I may have just had the best breakfast I’ve had in a very long time. Food that takes my breath away is always worth the wait.
Of course M Café is the Ayala Museum Café, situated in uber-upscale Greenbelt 4. In the early days of this website, I actually had a chef from M Café use my kitchen for a photo shoot. While I don’t know if said chef is still working at M, I can only hope and pray that my food won’t be manhandled the way the food for the shoot was.
M Café is like its surroundings: clean lines, glass and light. The fact that it’s positioned right in front of a glistening pond and towering trees contributes to its laidback ambience. Choose to sit indoors where Mischka Adams croons from the speakers, or outside, where there’s a juice and coffee bar set up along with tables that define al fresco dining sans Manila pollution. At 11:00 in the morning, my Bin, Boo and I have the restaurant all to ourselves. Ahhh, weekend.
Perusing a brunch menu is an exercise in futility for me because as soon as I see eggs Benedict, I stop there. Here, it’s called M Benedict (P235) paired with one’s choice of Chinese sweet ham or salmon, which is what I choose.
As can be seen from the photo, I’m faced with a dilemma as soon as the dish is placed in front of me. How do I eat something that so clearly displays vertical aspirations? Since the bread half on the right side already looks like an imitation of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I give it a gentle nudge with my knife and take it out of its misery. Reposing on the golden liquid that is the hollandaise sauce, it’s now easier to eat. Problems should always be this delectable, no?
Teetering towers of poached eggs aside, this is a very decent albeit avant-garde way of presenting eggs Benedict. I think that I would enjoy it more if there was more bread ”“ the ratio of liquid to sop up is thrown off. And as you can see (or not), the portion of salmon afforded here could do with more. Much more.
At M Café, my Bin eats a good morning (did’ja catch the pun?) in the restaurant’s magandang umaga (P225 – good morning in Filipino), a panoply of breakfast meats eaten with rice, two eggs of choice, and atchara (pickled fruits and vegetables). The whole ”-silog” gang is here with the beef tenderloin tapa (dried meat), daing na bangus (salted fish), and smoked longanisa (native sausage).
A hearty meat and rice breakfast like this can’t be eaten without the requisite sauces to go with it. Here, a Chinese soup-spoon proffers an elegant though controlled portion of patis (fish sauce) with chili pepper threads. The dish is well-sized even for a man like my Bin, but he didn’t expect to be sharing so much of it with Boo, who’s shoving teaspoonfuls of it into her eager, little mouth. Foodie-in-training here.
“Try it Lor, try it. So. Good.” My Bin gestures to his rapidly emptying plate. Already quite busy with my M Benedict, I nod in agreement: the smoked meats’ flavors swing to a dance of pepper and garlic suggestive of soy sauce and brown sugar. The longanisa, often a repository of chunks of fat, is sweet and spicy with just a few glittering nuggets of unctuousness.
The best part about brunch is dessert. At the beginning of the meal, I order a plate of banana and peanut butter waffles (P175), ostensibly for Boo. She hardly touches it, since like her dad, rice is her starch of choice. Now I see that these waffles are meant just for me. Woohoo!
Let me tell you about these waffles. They’re served fresh and hot — glimmering pools of gold — the daylight glinting on the syrup trapped between the waffle squares. A splodge, glob, cascade(!) of whipped cream sits in the center of attention, its willowy tufts speckled with chopped peanuts. Entangled in this superlative creation are ribbons of creamy peanut butter entangled with slices of banana. I heave a large helping of it all into my mouth. It’s one of those foods that once swallowed induces a long interlude of silence. I hear the angels sing.
Ayala Museum, Greenbelt 4
Makati Ave. corner dela rosa St.