A couple of Fridays ago, The Food Club was invited to have dinner and a few glasses of wine at Café 1771’s The Winebar. This came as a perfect timing given that it was the end of a stressful workweek and a great way to welcome the much-awaited weekend. We arrived just about the same time and as we made our way up to the 2nd floor of Café 1771 in El Pueblo, we were all impressed with the sudden change of ambiance. From the bright pink and blue décor of the Whimsy section, climbing up the wooden staircase led us to an all-wooden interior that reminds me of a scene from The Godfather or one of those Al Pacino films that Papa loves to watch over and over again.
After leading us to our table, we were offered some wine to get things started. I sadly had to decline as I’m not really much of a drinker…an “eater”, yes…a drinker, no. Nonetheless, my companions seem to enjoy their selection of wines which I think went perfectly well with our wide-array of dishes that evening.
In true Café 1771 fashion, they also served us a bowl of popcorn to munch on. Paul loved this very much and actually looks forward to dining at Café 1771 every time partly because of this.
Shortly after, out came our appetizer – Oyster Rockefeller (Php. 550). It’s a platter of 8 baked Alaskan oysters topped with gooey cheese, creamy spinach and bacon. Readers would know that I am not allowed to have corn (thus I said no-no to the popcorn) and selected shellfishes which include oysters.
However, I can feel my mouth water as I look at the freshly baked oysters sitting peacefully in front of me. It looks so delicious and totally inviting. I asked Paul if I can try a piece and he agreed saying that he trusts Café 1771’s quality. At least I seek permission from the one who will be staying up with me should anything nasty happens to my tummy. :p
Taking a small piece, I drizzled some lemon juice on top and gently carved my fork around the shell making sure I’d be able to get all the cheese and creamy spinach inside. I ate the whole piece and immensely enjoyed the smooth, salty flavor that filled my mouth. It was so delicious and luckily, no fishy taste from the oysters which is a good indication how fresh it was. I couldn’t stop at just one piece and had a total of 3 Oyster Rockefeller that evening. Oh heaven! This just got to be the best Oyster Rockefeller in town!
Café 1771 is known for a couple of things, one of which is their pizza called Holy Cow (Php. 300). I was able to try this on my first visit two years ago and I’m so glad to be able to have this again. I just couldn’t get over how delicious this freshly baked pizza topped with arugula, kesong puti and lots of mozzarella is. It’s so simple yet truly addicting.
For our main course, oh boy, we had a feast! We started with the Lacquered Salmon (Php. 580). I love how tender and sweet this grilled salmon steak was and the smashed sweet potato was just divine. I’m definitely going back for more of this.
If there’s one thing that binds The Food Club together then it would be our love for food and our love for chicken wings. Since 2010, we have been visiting various restaurants around town in search for the best chicken wings. We each have our own picks and upon trying The Wine Bar’s Spicy Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip (Php. 380), we all agreed that it was indeed lip-smackingly good. Crunchy on the outside, juicy in the inside. I’m happy that although the name mentions that it’s spicy, the heat was pretty tolerable.
Aside from the Lacquered Salmon, I also loved the Lamb Shoulder Chops casserole. I love the thick, creamy sauce that goes so well with rice and the meaty lamb chops that was simmered to perfection. I can have this all to myself and it would definitely be a complete meal on its own!
For all Café 1771 newbies, here’s a tip: no meal is ever complete without ordering the Spaghetti with Sardines and Fried Capers this is a kid-friendly meal that allows the young ones to complete their seafood intake. Adults dining at the Wine Bar, should try their version of this pasta dish which is the Spicy Spaghetti Sardines (Php. 350). This is made with Spanish sardines, fried capers and chili flakes. I think of it as the version with more spunk and personality while the tamer version is the goodie-goodie kind. Whichever one you try, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the generous serving of sardines flakes with crunchy capers and breadcrumbs. This is my numero uno must-try and as I’ve been in Café 1771 three times, I’ve had this pasta three times and counting already!
We actually had more than those mentioned above but I wasn’t able to try those as we were served steak and burgers which my companions enjoyed. I’ll definitely go back to The Wine Bar after my no-beef sacrifice to try those beefy items myself.
Lastly, we capped the night with plates after plates of dessert! Since there were 9 of us that evening, we decided to order one cake each and share it with one another. Let me share with you the ones that I love the most:
Coffee Pie (Php. 220)
Just like the Spaghetti with Sardines, this is also one dessert that I always make sure to have in every visit. I just love the slightly sweet and creamy coffee pie that goes well with my cup of…tea!
Monroe Bread Pudding (Php. 250)
We were initially hesitant to try this but our server guaranteed us that this was their house special and it was very good. He was right, this was in fact the crowd’s favorite as we all love perfect combination of the brioche-type bread filled with creamy custard and baked with butter and vanilla. So yummy!
Apple Crumble (Php. 185)
I also enjoyed the warm Apple Crumble with the finely diced apples mixed with cinnamon and butter and topped with caramel sauce drizzle. It’s a very comforting dessert perfect to cap one’s meal.
Rose Noire (Php. 250)
Who doesn’t love Ferrero Rocher? It’s the best chocolate in the world! This is probably the reason why I loved the Rose Noire as it’s a piece of dark chocolate ganache with hazelnut praline topped with silky chocolate glaze. It’s so good as I enjoyed the slight crunch in every bite.
We had a great time unwinding at The Wine Bar. This is truly the best combination : great food and an amazing company! What more can I ask for?! (another piece of Coffee Pie maybe? Hehe)
The Wine Bar is the perfect place to hold intimate gatherings or to just have a romantic date with your special someone.
*photo credit: Paul Ang
Visit The Wine Bar at the 2nd floor of Café 1771, El Pueblo, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Call them at 631-7339 to 40.