Tilde is redefining handcrafted comfort
The first thing Ginny de Guzman, co-owner of Tilde Hand Craft Café, offers us was a glass of homemade cream soda, replete with bubbles floating just above the brim. The thick and fizzy concoction was inspired by the soda fountains from her father’s childhood, when soda jerks would pump the tap to pour out different variants of carbonated water. Tilde carbonates their own water and uses fresh ingredients, such as vanilla, raspberries and strawberries, to develop the flavors.
The people behind Tilde have a hand in crafting every single item on the menu—from the drinks, the pastas, the breads, down to the curing of meats. “We’re kind of control freaks,” Ginny says. “We want to try to make everything ourselves, or at least know where it comes from.”
Ginny, along with her partners Chiqui Lara and Neal Oshima, opened Tilde in July, their second venture together after their BGC-based take-out business Gustare Kitchen. This is also Ginny’s return to the restaurant industry after selling Sugarhouse nine years ago.
“I was only 26 when I started Sugarhouse,” she recalls. “It was challenging because it was hard to buy apples, butter. Then during the time of Ramos naman, it was all the brownouts.”
A lot has changed since Sugarhouse began in 1983, and the rapid expansion of the brand took a toll on Ginny. “There were so many [Sugarhouse] stores, we had so many employees,” she says. “It was out of control.”
Tilde, with its small shop and commissary located at the corner of Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati, gives Ginny and her partners a lot more freedom in the kitchen. “I’m really a kitchen person, I like to work with my hands,” Ginny explains. She and her colleagues are fascinated with the processes that goes into the preparation, such as the fermentation of the soda shrubs and the bread dough.
“They’re in perpetual creation mode, you know?” says Chiqui, who has been friends with Ginny since they were in kindergarten. “Always thinking of new things.”
The Tilde menu contains seasonal, newly thought-up items which are written on the blackboard by the counter. Fast-moving dishes that are potential bestsellers go into the permanent menu.
When before it was hard to find raw ingredients in 1980s Manila, today Tilde’s ingredients are found in organic farms or the local weekend markets. A forkful of the Broccoli Pesto is inundated with the fresh, crisp taste of the vegetable, adding more texture to the homemade pasta.
Chiqui credits the creative aspect of the business to her partners. “They’re always looking at something and saying, ‘hey what else can we do?’” she says. “’How can we make it taste better?’”
Ginny and Neal are inspired by markets they visit, things they watch on TV, or what they read in magazines. The Brekkie Bun is an homage to McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. Creamy scrambled eggs are sandwiched with a savory, freshly ground beef patty and enveloped in Tilde’s homemade burger bun.
Duck Confit Hash
Pulled Lamb Pita
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Also part of the seasonal menu is the Pulled Lamb Pita, which packs quite a punch. The tender meat is seasoned liberally with spices for a ridiculously hot bite. The fresh greens and soft homemade pita bread help soften the heat, making for a wholly satisfying dish.
Tilde is also home to Gustare Kitchen’s pastries and cakes, in both regular and mini sizes. Carrot Cake Cheesecake is exactly what the name implies. Smooth and creamy cheesecake is sandwiched in between two layers of chunky carrot cake to combine the two all-time favorites in one slice. The Black Samurai is a Gustare invention, made up of several layers of moist chocolate cake, and a crunch cornflake bottom.
The inventions and experiments do not just come from the owners, but from the staff as well. During our visit, one of the baristas even came up to Chiqui with a new drink in hand, something he calls lemonade with a twist.
Carrot Cake Cheesecake
The same goes for the chefs. “They’re never just sitting there and waiting for things to happen,” Chiqui says. “They’re not afraid, [because] when they come to us, we simply encourage them.”
There’s always something new in store from Tilde. They’re already preparing for the Christmas rush, with plans to open on Sundays for brunch. That’s not even including the possible additions to the menu, such as the crunchy and flavorful Sourdough Chips, or Chiqui’s new favorite, the yet-unnamed stinky cheese that Neal is working on. Perpetual creation mode, indeed.
Tilde Hand Craft Café is at G/F EWC Building, 5417 Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati City.