There’s always a certain charm when you try something out for the first time. You feel invigorated and your brain goes like, “Ay, ganun pala yun?”. And whether or not your experience was good or bad, that first time will always be memorable.
For most things, it simply follows that the second time, third time, fourth time, and so on isn’t going to be as much of a blast as the first. However, that’s not really the case when it comes to Café 1771.
I first became familiar with the Chateau 1771 group of restaurants during the Eat’s a Date event by OpenRice at Wine Bar 1771 last December (read the full review and concept for Café 1771, Wine Bar 1771 and Sidebar here). Suffice to say, it was wonderful. Wonderful enough, in fact, for me to take my wife back to the place for our first wedding anniversary. That time though, we decided to eat at Café 1771 instead, and despite the hefty bill at the end, I (we) have no regrets.
Naturally, when I found out that OpenRice was doing an Eat’s a Date at Café 1771, I practically jumped at the opportunity to join, deadlines and officework be damned.
First off, the ambiance. As opposed to Wine Bar and its very ‘male’ feel, Café 1771 sports a much brighter interior, making it more neutral. While the library-ish theme is also used here, the lighting and the design as a whole make a lot of difference in terms of how the space is perceived. Most of tables are small and round, most of them with matching lounge chairs, giving it a much more relaxed and laid back atmosphere. The table sizes also make it apparent that it’s meant for couples and much smaller groups. Small details here and there (which were lovely to photograph) – like the teas – as well as the pastry display, complete the café feel.
With regard to the food, I’ve no complaints at all. That I thoroughly enjoyed their Fried Squash Flowers (Php280) despite having an intense dislike of vegetables in general – squash included – already speaks volumes. Another favorite was the Wine Bar Burger, which while heftily priced at Php410, was also hefty on taste and serving size. You might remember the WB Burger from the Wine Bar review the last time as the stack of heart-attack-waiting-to-happen and cholesterol goodness, mostly owing to the prime beef they use for the patty and the bulalo (beef bone marrow) you get to spread on it.
I didn’t get to taste the Spaghetti with Fried Sardines and Capers (Php290) this time around, but was able to during the Wine Bar event – so, while tasty enough, if they haven’t changed the recipe in a significant way, my impression of their pasta dishes as not really worth the price still stand. Their Orange Pork Spareribs (Php450) was a bit meh for me as well, but that might just be because I’m not a big fan of stews or pork in general. To be fair though, that the pork was very soft and flavorful, so I’m probably part of a minority.
How tasty is slow-baked, juicy chicken covered with cracked potato chips? VERY TASTY. A dish that’s delectable and crunchy outside and moist and full of flavor inside, it’s the kind of stuff that made Café 1771’s Organic Chicken in Potato Crust (Php550) another highlight of the night.
And of course, a Café 1771 experience would hardly be complete without a sampling of their cakes, pastries and other saccharine goodies. They have a pastry chef specifically for their sweet offerings, and it shows, not only in the presentation but in the taste as well. I got to try the Amandelle (Php300), and the Gianduja Truffle Mousse Cake (Php250). Both were sublime. It was a shame we had to break the things down so we could eat them.
All in all, Café 1771 proved to be an enjoyable and memorable experience once again, and if budget permits, I might be paying the place another visit one of these days, with the wife in tow. Like I said, there are places you can only bear to go to once, but Café 1771 is definitely one of those places you want to keep going back to.