The Wholesome Table
My husband and I like talking about how we should get a house with a porch, so that in our older years, we can sit there side by side, with a cup in one hand and each other’s hand in the other, people-watching, appreciating our view of greenery, and occasionally screaming “Get off my lawn!” at some unruly kids.
We had somewhat of a preview of that (minus the screaming) when we decided to sit outside The Wholesome Table in Bonifacio High Street Central one sleepy Sunday afternoon. Sitting beside each other, we could watch passersby, enjoy the view of the restaurant’s extended patio that had a nice, small-garden feel to it, and have drinks and dessert.
Quite full from a not-so-happy lunch elsewhere, we were adamant that our light merienda would and should chase our lunch blues away. We each ordered a cup of Hot Chocolate and shared a Fudge Brownie from The Wholesome Bakery.
Our verdict? Bliss.
We fell in love with the hot chocolate at first sight and sip. Much care was put into creating that beautiful beverage art on the drink’s surface. It seemed such a shame to destroy it, but we had to have our drink. In that little sea of smooth, creamy milk, there was a distinct, unadulterated taste of chocolate that shone through. Our server told us that only two ingredients were used to make it: ground cacao nibs and whole milk. It was so good that we kept scraping the bottom of our cup for remnants of nibs.
As for the fudge brownie, it reminded us of a flourless chocolate cake without the crumbliness – dark in flavor and dense in texture with a slightly wet center.
The Wholesome Table
UG/F Bonifacio High Street Central, 30th St corner 7th Ave
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
02 867 0000
TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie
It’s hard to find that sort of “porch feel” we’re after, given the popularity of enclosed, air-conditioned malls around the city. Sometimes, it’s all about making do and creating that space. Take, for example, Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie in SM Megamall. Stepping through its doorway was like stepping into an affluent person’s patio, complete with marble-top tables, comfy wooden chairs, and a wall of greenery. With that relaxing view in front of us, we settled in for a small snack. We decided to get the Hot Horlicks Milk and some Special Crispy Almond Snow Buns.
We’re not sure if we were meant to feel drowsy after the Hot Horlicks Milk since the sugar rush from our dessert might have kept us awake. Tuan Tuan is known for serving up freshly baked crispy almond snow buns that are crisp on the outside yet pillow-soft on the inside, and these were no different: a tad sweet but delicious. Since we were told each bun contained almond paste, we didn’t expect the outpouring of warm, thick liquid with our first bite, like the love child of condensed milk and hot almond soup. We’re definitely adding this to our favorite “porch” food.
These two orders made our taste buds happy, but because they’re both milk-based, I recommend getting them on separate occasions; the snow buns would also more likely go better with tea.
TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie
3/F SM Megamall, Mega Fashion Hall
02 570 9011
Just when we thought we were running out of new places to check out, the recently-opened Ayala Malls the 30th popped up in the Pasig area. Although it’s still a mall, it does have a modest outdoor garden (a.k.a. corte), which provides a green breathing space that is so lacking in the city.
It was La Maripili that caught our eye. Its colonial-style doors looked chic and inviting; its woodsy interiors made it seem nice and cozy. We liked that the glass doors had a good view of the garden; it made us feel relaxed. Too bad it didn’t have outdoor seating and more natural light—that would have been a major plus in our book.
Stuffed from a previous eating engagement, we just wanted to have a little taste of what La Maripili had to offer (so we could come back more ravenous the next time around). And little indeed is what we got with our order of a cup of tea and a piece of flavored churro.
We didn’t realize how small the Catalán Cream Churro would be until it was served to us. Although short and squat, it had a thicker-than-usual diameter (probably to accommodate the filling). The churro itself was crunchy at first but soon yielded to the bite. The light orange-hued Catalán cream tasted like crème brûlée custard but with less richness and sweetness. One piece isn’t enough.
We’ve already agreed to return to try the crepes, and the other churros like the Chocolate and Chili Mousse and the Dulce De Leche.
Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Ave, Ortigas, Pasig
0916 540 0484
Yes, it would be wonderful to have a house—of course, with a porch—to call our own. But as we save up and wait for when that will happen, we’ll be content with looking for restaurants and cafés that almost fit the bill.
The next time you dine out, invite your partner or a friend to go “porch-hunting.” Trust us, it’s enjoyable just sitting together outside a restaurant, gazing at people (and maybe gossiping about them), taking in the surroundings, lazily sipping drinks, and nibbling on desserts that you both have never tried.