Okay, I was really excited to have discovered this place.
I was browsing through people’s instagram accounts and happened to stumble upon a picture where the user checked in at Cab Cafe. Now, I’ve been working within Araneta Center for about five months and I’ve never come across this cafe.
I tried to look for it but was not able to find it at first. Then one early morning, I was taking a walk with a colleague meaning to buy a quick breakfast at Jollibee, when something red caught my eye. It would turn out to be Cab Cafe’s signature red mug sign. Imagine my excitement having finally found the place! It was still closed at the time but I made a mental note to get a cuppa and a meal some days later.
Araneta Center has several places where you can get your caffeine buzz: Three Starbucks’; Two Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s; One Krispy Kreme; and One J. Co. But these are always full of people and noisy. Cab Cafe, on the other hand, has a very chill and quiet ambiance. It still has a number of people dining here, it’s not exactly empty. But it has the relaxed vibe you would expect at a typical cafe. It’s a very welcome alternative.
I went to this place twice in one week. The first time was to test the place out and its food. The second was to simply spend some alone time and relax with decent coffee and good, filling food.
I convinced my colleague that we have our lunch break at Cab Cafe. You really notice that you’ve left the busier part of the center when you get here. The relaxed atmosphere really worked up our appetite and we couldn’t wait to dig in to our food.
Whenever I want to get a quick espresso drink, I get it at the Starbucks inside the Gateway Mall. However, their Latte’s are sometimes watery and I’m not always satisfied. Cab Cafe’s Latte is thick, creamy, and good enough for the 85Php price (a larger size costs a little over 100). I just wish the barista would learn some actual latte arts so we can all be excited to instagram every cup #latteartporn.
The sugar they will serve to you for your coffee will be muscovado sugar. It’s a deep brown type of sugar with very strong taste (like molasses) but not too sweet. It’s better than adding refined sugar and I don’t recommend using artificial sweeteners.
Deli Pinoy Pasta
My colleague tries to stay away from rice every time he has a meal. During our visit the staff did not give us a copy of their menu. We had to base our orders on the chalk boards behind the cashier. The only pasta dish there was the Deli Pinoy Pasta so he went for it.
It’s a pasta dish with sauteed tinapa (smoked fish), fresh tomatoes, and itlog na maalat (salted egg, a native delicacy in the Philippines). The smell of this was amazing and my colleague who doesn’t really like eating tinapa thought that this dish was kind of good. The idea is awesome by the way and I’ll recommend it for you guys to order when you’re here.
Tapsilog de Negrense
It’s not the typical beef tapa. Those cuts of meat are super tender. They’re slightly sweet with just the right hint of a sour flavor with the perfect saltiness. Eating tapa will typically be with some vinegar on the side to bring out the yumminess. That is unnecessary here.
The eggs are a bit overcooked and the garlic rice is too sticky. There’s the half of a tomato drizzled with pesto sauce. That detail actually worked. The goodness of the Tapa is enough to forgive the other miscues, and this is again a dish I recommend.
Red Velvet Cake
Cab Cafe has a lot of pastry selections and they are displayed very prominently in two glass cases next to the register.
I decided to try the red velvet cake. It’s not something I liked. The cake had a bitter aftertaste that didn’t go away easily. I guess you have to be drinking their coffee to enjoy this. I had already finished mine when I got to this point of the meal. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
I got to the office early two days later and I was the only one in our team at the time. I checked the food they had at the concessionaire but I didn’t like the selection. I also badly needed a cup of coffee. Thus I decided to go to Cab Cafe once again and get myself ready, relaxed, and perked at the same time for the busy work day.
According to the barista, the Caffe Bianco is similar to white chocolate mocha. Just like the Latte, the Bianco was creamy and the addition of white chocolate was a welcome taste. The kicker? It costs the same as the Latte. That’s a great bargain!
I learnt my lesson. I asked the server for a copy of the menu and she handed me a clipboard with three pages. No pictures, thank god!
I had decided on the ham panini but was told that the panini’s were not available. I would overhear later that this was due to them having run-out of ciabatta. I decided to settle on the Pasta Pomodoro.
Despite having the pronounced taste of canned tomato paste, I still appreciate the fact that they included fresh tomatoes and basil on my pasta dish. I was actually surprised that the dish did not have as much acidity as I thought it would have upon getting a whiff of it when it was served. The amount of parmessan drizzled on top was also just right to give that balancing flavor without overpowering the whole dish.
This isn’t Cab Cafe’s first store. The original is located in Kapitolyo, Pasig City. However, this branch is perfectly located here with little competitors and diners looking for something different from several big name chains. The place has free WiFi, good airconditioning, and beautiful lighting. The ambiance works if you want to study, have a business meeting, or just want to relax. As I said earlier, Cab Cafe has decent coffee and good, filling food. The cakes and pastries, however, are nothing special.
I really wish more restaurants popped-up in the Araneta Center. Its easily accessible (the MRT and LRT 2 have stops here), it has the iconic Araneta Coliseum, and there’s the gem called the Farmer’s market for the freshest produce. I hope the new places set to open would be more than just branches of corporate restaurants, please. There are enough of those here already.
Have you been to Cab Cafe? How did you find it?