Noms

Review: Napa Restaurant and Bar

Let’s try something new here on BaconTunaMelt. Today, we’ll attempt to do a semi liveblog. What’s that? Well, I’m currently about to nom at Napa Restaurant with my family for Sunday lunch. The restaurant is located along Scout Borromeo in a land far away called Quezon City (I’m a Southerner, this is considered a road trip). Why semi? Given that I won’t be posting a blow by blow of every bite and will just post this as soon as the meal is over, semi live blogging is what I see fit to call this. So, sit back, relax, and please excuse my grammatical errors and typos while I tell you all about my lunch. In almost real time.

20120909-210158.jpg
Not much to look at from the outside

Screw that intro, I just found out that I’m not much of a multitasker. Writing and taking pictures while eating and talking isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Anyhoots, at least it’s same-day-blogging and let’s face it, with my track record, that’s probably as fast a turnaround as it can get on BaconTunaMelt. So, back to Napa! We found out about this Italian restaurant through a groupon deal, which offered 200 pesos less on a 500 peso food purchase (my mom is a relatively new groupon addict fan). Free parking is available in front of the restaurant but the slots might not be enough for a busy Friday night crowd. Fortunately, the Sunday lunch crowd is less hectic and we pretty much settled in without any hassle.

20120909-213620.jpg
So artful!

While the outside design is a little blah with nothing but a dull brown sign bearing the name Napa against plain walls, the interior is a different story. The mostly orange themed dining area is accented with colorful oil paintings and and complementary wall decor giving off a pretty, happy, homey, classy feel (yes, all those adjectives). There are also a bunch of cushy couches with hip designs as upholstery. Even the menu is mostly orange! Incidentally, said menu is also about 3-foot long and quite a chore to handle. That aside, what’s more important is what’s actually on the menu. Napa is a mid-range (mainly) Italian restaurant offering pizza, pasta, salad, grilled entrees and many house specialties.

20120909-215854.jpg
Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Dip (p240)

The family started with a recommended appetizer called Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Dip. It’s a thick and creamy dip that’s as sinful as it is tasty. My only complaint is that there’s too few of those lightly toasted, bite sized focaccia bread and a whole lot of dip.

20120909-221019.jpg
Chef's Chopped Salad (p275)

We also had this plateful of the house special Chef’s Chopped Salad. It’s a meaty ham, chicken, and bacon salad tossed in with lettuce and their “special and secret” dressing. Makes you wonder what’s in it, huh? I liked it, but it’s not really something I’d crave for. To me, it was just a regular Caesar salad.

20120909-224039.jpg
Just For Kids Chicken Tenders (p185)

Then the entrees began to arrive, starting with the Chicken Tenders with French Fries for the kids who can eat chicken fingers anywhere and anytime. I was hungry so I nicked some of the fries that came with it (judge me all you want). The fries were surprisingly.. perfect, for lack of a better term. Crispy, salted, peppered without the greasy feel of most fast food French fries. Needless to say, I nicked more of it.

20120909-221851.jpg
Puttanesca (p195)

Then came the Puttanesca (which apparently literally means “whore’s style spaghetti” IDKY), your typical tomato based pasta with olives, capers, and tomatoes. It was.. aight. I’m not a big fan of the stuff, and this particular dish did not convert me into one either.

And here’s where the photos of the rest of our entrees would have been.

20120909-224455.jpg
o_o

That is, if I took them. By this time, the food arrived all in one go and we started demolishing everything in sight before I could even think of taking any more pictures *smacks self*.

We tried the Beef Cabernet (braised beef cooked in wine over risotto, p430), Grilled Salmon Belly (served with pasta, p235), and others that I unfortunately forgot by now (I really should take down notes next time). However, I remember those that are memorable. The beef was succulent and tasty, and would have fallen off the bone, if it came with one. The salmon was juicy, unlike most grilled fish that can be found in restaurants whose cooks seem to not know how to grill.

20120909-230834.jpg
Lava Cake (p180) looove

Fortunately, I remembered to take a photo of the dessert. The servers offer their freshly baked Lava Cake to your party midway through your meal, because it takes twenty minutes to prepare. This splendidly goopy mess of warm chocolate cake complemented by a rather large (not complaining) scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with cherry is not a bad way to end a meal.

To sum up, nomming at Napa Restaurant was a nice experience. The food was ok, the servers were nice and friendly (except for a snafu with reservations the day before), and the ambiance modern classy. I personally rate it couple of notches above tolerable but several notches below spectacular. At best, it’s a slightly classier T.G.I.Fridays. Check out Napa’s Facebook page.

Noms

Cappuccino Cravings: The hunt for the best cup in town

Until recently, cappuccino wasn’t my cup of tea (erm, coffee?). It wasn’t until I learned to add a dash of cinnamon in my coffee did I learn to appreciate the foamy goodness of cappuccino (or so this guy claims). Whatever the reason, now I’ve become some kind of a nut, pftoo-ing* any other caffeine drink without a decent amount of foam on it.

What kind of a a nut have I become? (sometimes, I wonder why I’m too honest in this blog) The kind that’s nutty enough to go forth and compare the cappuccinos that locally accessible cafes have to offer. Now before you call me crazy, I claim that I did it for y’all. You know, so wouldn’t need to make the mistake of going to a place with terrible cappuccino (coz’ I’m nice liek that).

Here’s my list so far-

Seattle’s Best Coffee
Rating: 3 of 5

20120904-001547.jpg
It's a foam world.

Seattle’s Best’s Cappuccino has the most foam out of all the ones on this list. The coffee is strong but there is enough milk to neutralize the flavor and end up with a pleasant blend. Particularly good when you need to pull an all-nighter and cram study a semester long worth of topics. The branch along Valero street in Makati is one of the few coffee shops (that i know of) that is open 24 hours.

Starbucks
Rating: 4 of 5

20120904-001621.jpg
The old reliable

The cappuccino from Starbucks is surprisingly the one that gives the most bang for the buck (if you order in). The medium Grande mug has more than enough to keep you awake for at least a couple of days, depending on your caffeine tolerance. The amount of foam and the drink itself do not disappoint, like usual. Given that there’s a branch or two in many corners of the city, this one is like your favorite pair of jeans, the one you use too often- looks good, fits you well, and lasts you a pretty long time.

McCafe
Rating: 1 of 5

20120904-001224.jpg
Wherefore art froth?

McCafe’s cappuccino is the cheapest of the bunch but is also the least frothy. Without froth, a coffee drink is not a cappuccino, it’s merely coffee with milk. I can’t even say you get what you pay for, because I paid for a cappuccino and got a poor tasting latte with half an attempt at coffee art (the cup had a crooked letter M or it could have been a squiggly of chocolate powder on top).

Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
Rating: 4 of 5

20120904-001323.jpg
A little bit of home away from home

This quaint little shop in Boracay run by a friendly American lady is known better for their famous Calamansi Muffins more than their coffee. While the muffins are spectacular (a separate post will be up soon), the coffee is really good. If you sit at the bar, you get to see them making the coffee and frothing the milk by hand. It’s as if you woke up with a coffee connoisseur in your kitchen making you a particularly good cup of coffee in the morning. The drinks are reasonably priced too, especially for a coffeeshop that’s in Boracay.

UCC Cafe Terrace
Rating: 3 of 5

20120904-014032.jpg
Love at first sniff

UCC is not one the coffee shops that I frequent, mostly because it’s unreasonably expensive for me. Their cappuccino is affordable enough (roughly around Php110) but the cup is smaller than others (on this list). If you don’t mind the size, the coffee is pretty good with a fair amount of foam. And although it shouldn’t be a factor in determining good coffee, UCC’s clear glass mugs are a pretty sight to see (and sip from).

Caffe Ti-Amo
Rating: 2 of 5

20120904-001647.jpg
Thick and strong Italian

This newish coffee shop in Greenbelt 5 had interesting menu choices including gelato on espresso and an intriguing-looking tea, but I had to try their cappuccino first. Their cappuccino has the thickest foam I’ve seen on a cup, a wooden stirrer placed in the middle of all the froth will not sink to the mug edges (true story). While a lot of foam is great, the espresso they used was a tad too strong for my liking. I had to pour in a lot of extra milk in it, and even then, it was still too strong.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Rating: 5 of 5

20120904-001813.jpg
This foamy cup hits the right spot every damn time

This is my go to cappuccino. CBTL never disappoints. While other coffee shops’ coffee blends vary depending on the barista, CBTL has remained constantly great. This happy cup is a perfect blend of good coffee, soft foam, and a healthy amount of milk- exactly how a cappuccino should be.

~

Just what is it about this Italian coffee drink that’s got me hook, line and sinker? Honestly, I’m not too sure. What I do know is that this blend of espresso and hot milk, topped with (very) thick frothed milk, with a dash of cinnammon and spoonfuls of brown or muscovado sugar makes my bad days go away.

Are you a cappuccino lover too? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

*pftoo-ing : A verb I made up that means the act of spitting liquid out in distaste with pouty lips on (go on, try it)