Have some booze with your breakfast
Migs Rodriguez, normally mild-mannered and yielding, was suddenly defiant—almost stern. "We should still talk about the coffee," he demanded, ever so calmly. "Because it really is all about the coffee."
We cannot blame him, though, since Caravan Black at Netpark, BGC serves serious cups of black gold. The flat whites are solid as one you would probably sip on at a third-wave joint in Sydney, and the newly launched nitro cold brew is smooth as velvet. We must talk about the coffee.
Garlic Sausage Platter
But, although Caravan Black and its owners can barely contain their excitement for Arabica beans, they must succumb (with some reservations, obviously) to the demands and/or requirements of their market. For the working stiffs at the offices above, the high ceilings and cushy leather armchairs provide reprieve from the harsh fluorescent lights and cluttered cubicles. Kim Lim's design is both modern and Old World in the same breath—the surreal art in the walls juxtaposed with hardwood triangular patterns behind the counter—making it attractive to a wider demographic and not just the youngish professionals that populate the area from nine to five. "On weekends, we get a lot of families," co-owner Andrei Aquino observed. Although he does admit that it's mostly families with older children, in their 20s and 30s, with parents in tow.
So, despite Rodriguez being bullish about staying true to their coffee shop roots, yield he must. Co-owner and kitchen consultant Chiloy Santos eventually had to develop a breakfast menu, thence calling upon mixologist Larry Guevarra to put together a modest cocktail selection. Migs admitted that although it wasn't part of the blue print, the evolution of their beverage list is organic. "There was a demand for alcohol, and not just during happy hour or in the evening, but throughout the day. So, for those who need it, it's just there." Makes sense, since all-day breakfast has already blurred the lines of convention, and brunch has made pre-noon drinking acceptable rather than disconcerting. We had sips of the Coffee Mojito in between bites of garlic sausage and scrambled eggs and we completely bought it. So sold are we on this pairing that we are baffled that nobody has thought of Coffee Mojitos with their eggs before this.
Well, there's Bernice Tenchavez—co-owner of Refinery (Rockwell, Greenhills) and Alley (The Grove)—who has built her businesses around boozy breakfasts. Her cafes are open from 8 a.m. to midnight and serve breakfast all day, so mimosas and bloody Marys are not just the norm but almost compulsory. "Usually, they would order the 'brunch drinks' with their Eggs Benedict," Bernice shares. "But, surprisingly in Refinery, we saw someone order a beer at 8 a.m. in the morning."
In her restaurants, Bernice imparts that the 30-somethings do most of the day drinking. "I think it's more than a trend," she observes, "but really a lifestyle when people order (alcoholic) drinks with their brunch." In Caravan Black, the ever expanding menu now also includes pasta dishes and a small wine list. Simply because pasta and wine makes so much sense, especially the Creamy Spinach Pasta with ricotta and Parmesan which screams for a buttery Chardonnay.
Mushroom Aglio Oglio
Penne Spinach Ricotta
While there are the usual suspects whom you would expect to be drinking midday—perhaps a strung out stay-at-home mom in need of a break from a scrappy toddler; or an advertising creative stuck in a rut hoping a slight buzz will get the proverbial juices going—Migs admits that with the daily stresses of modern metro Manila, a drink is an accessible tranquilizer. "Sometimes, people order our cocktails to-go," he imparts. "'Just put it in there' (pointing at an imaginary plastic cup) they would say. Then they would go back to work with their cocktails as if they're sipping on iced teas." In the midst of the city's chaos, it seems that this is just another way of coping with the daily grind; just as an afternoon plate of bacon, runny eggs, and toast could bring comfort to a hungover club rat as it would an accounts executive.
Alley is at The Grove Retail Row, The Grove by Rockwell, 117 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Pasig City; tel. no. 0916-493-3136, (02) 532-3928; open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Monday to Thursday), 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday), 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Saturday), and 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Sunday).
Refinery is at G/F Joya Lofts and Towers, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City; tel. no (02) 781-0344, (02) 831-2879; open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday), 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday to Saturday); Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Greenhills, San Juan City (0917-636-1474); 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Sunday to Wednesday) 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Thursday to Saturday).