To be or to Chelsea

serendra restaurant

Having a collection analogous terms, “Chelsea” can spur quite a debacle in our household.

Imagine the common name, like say, Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Dagger. Then here comes the futbol fanatic saying he adores Manchester United and that Chelsea FC is bleh. All right, understandable.  Not to be forgotten, we next get a smothering list of London and NY related places, which are more than a handful.

Oh, the Chelseas of Webster! No wonder Wikipedia can’t get enough of you!

lazy black cat review restaurant

But really now, being a food blogger in Manila, when I say Chelsea, it can only mean one thing: Chelsea Market & Café, at Serendra, Bonifacio High Street (there’s another at Podium). Sure, it’s a copycat version of the “real” Chelsea (NY) but what can I do, I live in the Pacific so I have to make do with what I can access logistically.

To be honest, I did not want 2013 to end without having visited Chelsea Market & Café. What a silly wish, you might wonder, but for a northern dweller like myself, trips to BGC can be quite arduous. Luckily I did get my wish –  that was 3 days before the New Year –  one cloudy Saturday (or the last for 2013), we finally hopped in our car and decided that yes, Chelsea it is!

jenina gonzales blog food

I did make a reservation 2 days before, but the bookkeeper seemed to be lost in his own battle with his body piercings, so that reservation was made in vain (and his chunky planner may have been a spells book in disguise, I did not bother to inspect). Good thing we were quite early and managed so secure a couch adjacent to the IKEA wall. If IKEA were to partner with a restaurant, this would be it.

Bonifacio Highstreet restaurant cafe

Before orders were made and inquiries tossed around, let me tell you that the place already screamed of slow service. It was in the air—oh, and my nefarious instincts are rarely wrong! Slacking pace—New Yorkers would have a riot on this objectionable trait!

When the order taker finally came to mind—perhaps perked up a bit with a sip of Red Bull—our orders came crashing in. The hunger we kept to ourselves suddenly materialized and out came words like pizza, confit, warm water, cheese, red wine, and no, make it 5 cheese! It was a mess of a notepad.

appetizer chelsea market cafe

To top off the chaos, my auntie decided to twist things a bit more—had the pasta sauce changed from pesto (Oven-Roasted Seafood and Tomato Cream Pesto) to Marinara. It was an entirely new dish—and the chef permitted this common abomination we like to call Seafood in the Red. Really now, it was just a bit of Ragu mixed with seafood and voila, customer service at its finest! As for gastronomic satisfaction, I leave that to the lucky diner—not me!

appetizer chelsea serendra

For starters we had a wee serving of the Warm Gorgonzola Dip with Vegetable Sticks and Potato Wedges. I am not kidding when I say “wee” since each vegetable type must equal 4 servings and not a sliver more, except for the caper—but who likes capers? The potato wedges came in a bit of abundance in proportion, so we thank the chef for this oily bounty. The gorgonzola dip was warm and creamy with this hearth flavor, but with a very small amount of vegetables for dipping, all that good cheese was left to waste.

salad chelsea fort

The Roasted Garlic Portobello Mushroom Confit came in a surprise platter because what landed on our table was a nest of arugula—lovely! Underneath the rocket forest came the sweet and succulent Portobello which made hearts out of our eyeballs for a nanosecond. With pesto spritzes, shaved cheese and cherry tomatoes, this made the gorgonzola dish hide in the shame of its scarcity.

pizza pasta fort restaurant

The Pizzas (All Meat and Five Cheese) came in thin crust variety and were consistently topped with arugula. Now I know whose pantry to raid when the arugula stocks in groceries are depleted, which is like, always.

vegetarian pizza bonifacio fort

The Five Cheese Pizza has that star beside its name in the menu, so I figured it should be the better pizza—not! Well, it tasted so-so and hmmmm-kay—for a Chelsea dish. It wasn’t that spectacular and was served not-so-piping-hot. Even the wee slices of apples alongside the arugula could not make a difference—since they were miniscule to begin with. Had I known it would be a mediocre cheese dish, I might have gone for that Greek Panko salad instead. At least the cheese on that one is more, apparent.

j.anne gonzales blog food

When the Southern Style Cornflake and Oatmeal Crusted Fried Chicken came, it looked like something that came from grandma’s kitchen. Still with arugula and potato wedges, the breading is a meal on its own—cracking sweet and oaty! A good pairing with the sickly pizza.

steak salad fort restaurant

Just a photo of the Grilled Roasted U.S. Rib Eye Steak, though nothing can be said about it. If you press for information, call my Ossan, but I really, really doubt if he can give any helpful input. Best he could say is: It did not go with red wine. Because really, it did not go with red wine. I warned you.

fort bonifacio restaurant menu

Despite a heavily starchy lunch, we still went for dessert. A trip to the Fort necessitates the hoarding of more calories, to bring us home safely, and with the chiller so close to our table, EQs are lost as hunger surges once again.

best cheesecake manila

100% mine, the New York Chocolate Chip Brown Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Longest name in the bunch with perhaps a proportionate amount of saturated fat. With cheesecake interspersed with cookies and more cookie dough in the base, it was cheesecake heaven until I finished half the slice. The other half called for tea and a kilometer of walking. Still, I persisted and finished the damn slice. Pretty damn good—but I doubt if I can take on this challenge again!

ice cream gelato dessert bonifacio

The others had the Super Ice Cream Sundae, Nocciola Gelato and that  Four Layer Toblerone Torte.

dessert serendra fort

The Ice Cream Sundae is Super because of the obvious add-ons, most of which seemed to be cream. If you’re a fan of cream and just 2 scoops of gelato, you will delight in this. If you hate cream like me, get a cake.

cake dessert chelsea

The Four Layer Toblerone Torte has repetitive layers of that cake/merengue and crème filling. The novelty is in the height and not the assortment of the layers, if you’re thinking Mango Bravo. If you like uber sweet and Toblerone, go for it. Otherwise, check the menu for something that summons your dark gluttonous self.

lazy black cat review food

Our local Chelsea experience can be summed up as a calorific, overpriced slacker’s meal. The food was on the mediocre side and did not exactly fire stars from my eyes. Whilst we know the ingredients were of the supreme and fresh kind (well I do hope so), the overall package is not worth waiting for again.

So if you’re going to summon New York, that hurry-that-pace-and-move-in-a-flurry because that’s how they are in we-hate-waiting East Coast—then our local Chelsea will freeze you in time and you better pop in a microwave dish instead.

food trip manila

But since I’m in the New Year positive chakra forgiving mood: As for Chelsea Market & Café, you’re almost there; buy a watch with a timer and get back to me once you remember to serve the Toblerone Torte. (Yup they forgot about it.)

Fair enough, yow.

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