Tag Archives: serendra

Heisenberg visits Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza

ginos brick oven pizza

When you try a Breaking Bad stunt without a proper Heisenberg approach, you end up fleeing Market! Market! like sad Jesse Pinkman.

But enough of crystal talk, getting choked out of the scary place led us to the only comfort of life in nearby Serendra. Thank God for Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza!

gino brick oven serendra

Nothing could better than Sunday Funday Pizza, and to add that this was our first visit to Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza.

First rule was no pasta! So we ended up with:

Buffalo chicken pizza

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Let’s just say that it was sweeter/tastier than our expected flavor. Also the chicken strips were marinated and shredded so they looked like corned beef! I was expecting slightly larger chicken breast strips but the little strips gave more impact on the flavor.

Maybe next time they should bring the pizza to our table right ASAP. A little delay deprived us of the smoke and cheese porn! The mozzarella cooled quite fast.

stracciatella pizza

Stracciatella Pizza

This was a salad on pizza and just lovely to look at! Topped with cloud-like stracciatella, first instinct was to spread it all over the pizza. Next was to mix it with the buffalo chicken pizza to temper its flavor.

This pizza was as delectable as it was pretty and the arugula lent to just the right tang.

ginos brick oven pizza serenda

All in all, I would like to go back and try the other pizza flavors at Gino’s. Again, I’m still dubious if I wish to try the pasta because I still have loads of other pizza variants to try.

Till our next Breaking Bad mission!




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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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A Blondie Moment

Cupcakes by Sonja Lazy Black Cat

They say blondes have all the fun, but the Blondie Bar by Sonja’s Cupcakes (Serendra) is often overlooked and ignored in favor of the more colorful cupcake bunch. The brunettes (like that choco cream pie) and red (velvet vixen) heads have better mileage in Sonja’s little  shop, but for those who like to look up at the cookie jars, that’s where this flaxen treasure lies.

The Blondie Bar may pale in comparison to the creamed up cupcakes and shimmering denizens of the lower chiller, but for those who’ve tasted it, they will agree that “Everyone loves blondes.”

Sonja Cupcakes Blondie Bar Jenina Gonzales

The main bar may be a simple composition with buttery flair but interspersed with walnuts and chunks of Valrhona chocolate (dark and white), this turns into a blonde bombshell. Nothing compares to its morsels of sweet gratification and fresh oven baked texture. Great with tea, better enhanced when warmed up, the Blondie Bar is everything but dumb.

J.Anne Gonzales Blondie Bar

If any, it’s dumbfounding.

So no more crying when Sonja’s runs out of the Bunny Huggers carrot cake or Valrhona milk-choco hazelnut tart. The Blonde is in.

And no more blonde jokes.

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There’s Something About Mary Grace Cafe

When I was 8, we used to live along Mary Grace Street. Boy, was it difficult to direct people to my abode, with questions about my full name or who the heck this Mary Grace figure is in Philippine history. You see, before Mary Grace, we lived along Nicanor Ramirez Street, very tough and in-the-hood, so you can probably how people reacted to this shift to this grandma’s cookie world.

However I digress. The point I am trying to make is that through the decades, the name Mary Grace has become quite acceptable and mainstream, it even became the restaurant name of the eponymous owner Mary Grace.

I have never met the Mary Grace of Mary Grace Café, and I don’t suppose I will in the near future. However I am glad that while strolling along Serendra, getting near-death slave hungry and finding only 1k in my wallet (boo-hoo), I came across her joint.

Now this joint isn’t that crochet-filled niche that is preserved to grandma standards, it’s a quaint little place filled with homely trinkets and decor, a comfy vibe yet not scarily vintage. Best of all, it’s properly dimmed to accommodate chatty moms, mistresses and vampires (that’s where we fall).

Grandma’s Wall

The ladies in waiting (well that’s how they appeared to me) are accommodating, and the display of cakes is rather remarkably highlighted. The table set-up showcases letters written by previous customers, kids mainly who seemed to enjoy Mary Grace’s cooking over their mom’s Ragu creations. I wouldn’t blame them.

Table set-up I thought only existed in HE class

While I spied pizza in one corner, I opted for pasta, having seen every table with a bowl of something. I wanted one too! Plus with their magnanimous selection of pasta, from cream to tomato to oil based, the choice was already difficult on its own. There was the cream dory pasta that I was dying to have, but the something fishy happened and I ended up with the Spanish Sardines Pasta with Olives.

Cat Food: Green and Fishy

The pasta was a bit overcooked, but the serving made up for this minor peeve. The bread was chewy and properly toasted, Mary Grace should really start calling herself the Bread Queen. The sardines were generously spread, and the pesto just right and fresh. Every bite maintains that sardine-pesto edge that we don’t normally get for other restaurants that scrimp out on the seafood toppings.

Asking for chili and parmesan, I may have overdone the sprinkling part as my dish evolved into a hot and salty fish bowl, but it was delightful nevertheless. Truth be told, I do not really eat sardines, and so this first-time-fish-fiesta did well to educate my taste buds and finally have a tertiary fish option to tuna and salmon pasta.

Who doesn’t love Carbonara?

Glad this kid had his carbonara fill. Wouldn’t want him camping out under my table.

The Classic Carbonara was creamy and flavorful, it seems that it warrants a second serving as well.

Seems like Mary Grace gets more letters than Santa!

While Taguig denizens we are not, at least Mary Grace Café has her own joint at Trinoma. Not as homey and rather exposed to the shopping public, should I get that nagging craving for vongole, at least all it takes is a hop, not a flight.


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Who stole the cookies at Sonja’s Cupcakes?

There’s a reason why Red ought to be the color of the season because Sonja’s Red Velvet cupcakes make the perfect holiday present (hint, hint), dessert, breakfast and fridge staple. However, it’s not just the cupcakes the compel me to walk in the rain or scorching heat whenever we pass by Serendra, it’s the cookies and bars.

Start paying attention to the cookie jars at Sonja’s and you might find yourself the new cookie thief. The Blondie Bar is far from being dumb and rather outsmarts every other pastry in the planet with its peculiarly addictive coconut-Valrhona fusion. The Black and White cookie presents a chocolate feast in all shades, making Valrhona my next favorite baker’s ingredient. When the time comes that I cannot decide between the two, I’ve decided to just buy both. Ha!

Just last weekend, someone must have left the cookie jar open at Sonja’s because when we came over, there were no cookies! While Red Velvet was the obvious alternative, it was a tough decision between Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake and Valrhona Milk Choco-Hazelnut Tart. The latter won, by a mile.

The Valrhona Milk Choco-Hazelnut Tart won me over with its mile-long name and of course, Valrhona. From the chocolate crust, fudgy top and flan-like center, the super chocolate award goes to this one. The hazelnut was mildly infused in the flan (my guess) but the overall chocolate flavor was not overwhelming, just right. Forget Red Velvet and those other cupcakes with colorful icing, I’m stocking up on tart!

Now if Sonja’s decides to display the Valrhona Milk Choco-Hazelnut Tart, Blondie Bar and Black and White Cookie side-by-side, indecision will certainly drive me insane. This one mind-boggling choice than can only be solved by a three-sided coin, but better if I could find a companion who would just buy me everything! 🙂

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