“Good eats, big smiles” is Chelsea Market Cafe‘s tagline. If this is also their objective, then they have succeeded.
I first visited Chelsea during a trip to Manila in 2009 and fell in love with their duck confit and chorizo pizza. As sinful as it sounds, as a first-time balikbayan then it was a mix of New York and Manila. So I had it twice!
Unfortunately they were out of both chorizo and duck confit during my recent visit, but I still visited Chelsea three times this past trip. Another Raintree innovation, this joint that’s reportedly patterned after the American cafe bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien is the first in the Philippines to adopt an infamous tradition in New York of combining a cafe within a food market, as is done in Dean & Deluca or at Balthazar, or my neighborhood favorite Brooklyn Larder. Chelsea is more like a full restaurant with a few food items on the side for the ambience. The color scheme definitely reminds of Le Pain and other small French cafes in New York. Chelsea’s Serendra branch does a good job in providing a bright and airy atmosphere conducive to long meals and good laughs.
In New York we crave Filipino food often and what we don’t cook at home we seek out in very few Filipino restaurants we trust to make our favorites. Ihawan in Woodside, Queens is one of them, because we’d rather not be disappointed with a restaurant that doesn’t provide that distinct taste of home that we’re looking for. In Manila, Chelsea is Ihawan’s counterpart that is the closest we can get to New York pizza and other American favorites.
True, some dishes have to be modified for the Pinoy palate, such as the Greek Salad above that was swimmingly dressed for more popular tastes, but the panko crusted feta was a great touch and topper.
Their green mango and watermelon shake was another favorite I came back for. Love the refreshing watermelon flavor with the bite of sour mango.
Now this meatball dish made us go “Mmmmm!” because of its hearty meaty layers tenderly packed in each meatball as well as the richness of the sauce. Definitely tastes like home.
We also tried the other pizza flavors and were pleased, though I still miss my duck confit and chorizo! Must get that fix next time.
Desserts are not among my usual indulgences but both of these cakes were popular among our group. My sister actually lives for the Toblerone Torte!
I’m definitely biased because this restaurant is named after a Manhattan neighborhood, but I probably wouldn’t sing it praises if it didn’t follow through. As far as giving its guests a gourmet American dining experience, Chelsea definitely delivers, so I’ll definitely be back.
Chelsea Market and Cafe Serendra
G/F Serendra Piazza
Mc Kinley Parkway Fort Bonifacio
Taguig City, Philippines