July 23, 2012

Restaurant Review: Chelsea Market & Café

Disclaimer: We got this picture from themanilagirl.com since we were not able to take a picture of Chelsea's front because it was raining.

view of the restaurant from our table
Few restaurants in Manila boast the winning combination of excellent service and delicious, yet unpretentious food. Service culture in Manila is notoriously low – staff struggle with orders and timing,  not knowledgeable of the food being served and lack the graceful hospitality requisite for a good night out; whilst the few establishments claiming to proffer the ‘gourmet’ plate little more than, trend-following, bland-tasting amateur facsimiles of dishes plucked from abroad, served in pretentious fashion.

Thankfully Chelsea is a rare exception. What other restaurants lack in excellent fare and service, Chelsea has in spades. Patterned after the Chelsea Markets in East London, this little gem does its namesake proud. Nestled  in a corner of the village-like surroundings of Serendra, Chelsea is neither fancy nor exceptional, yet its bright interiors, packed with families and regulars offer a clue to the deli/restaurant’s success: unaffected, yet tasty international fare. Everything from gourmet burgers, filled with truffles and gruyere cheese, antipasti plates, to slow roasted pork, large leafy salads and home-made soups are on offer, providing the wholesome familiar comfort food one expects from the original Chelsea Markets or their local fave café bistro in Surry Hills in Sydney  - familiar food, prepared to new levels

 We tried the French Onion and Summer squash soups for starters. The French onion soup was about the most decent on offer outside Aubergine and Mamou – rich, thick and slightly tangy from the wine, capped with a generous slathering of slightly burnt gruyere cheese on top that pulls apart like dough. The summer squash offering is equally hearty. With salty feta cubes and crème anglaise thrown into the mix for good measure, we were practically licking the bowl for more. Next was Chelsea’s take on a Caesar salad, featuring a restaurant-made ‘grandmother’s’ recipe for the dressing. Perhaps their dear grandmother plated the dish as well – the salad was generously served in a large, square bowl, with the crisp romaine lettuce, crispy bacon and grilled chicken breast featuring in equally generous amounts.

Truffled Mushroom & Gruyere at Chelsea Market & Café (P495)
Disclaimer: This pic is from the internet since our camera died after our 2nd/3rd dish.
Finally, we unfastened our belts and prepared ourselves for the final offerings of the truffle-infused, Angus burger with Gruyere cheese and the grilled chicken breast Panini. A proclaimed ‘gourmet’ burger, the sandwich lived up to its name and was perhaps the clearest representation of what Chelsea is all about – classic dishes, served with fresh ingredients with a touch of gourmand flavor. The first slice into the well ground piece of Angus oozed rich juices over the crisp bun. A bite of the cheese and truffle coated patty revealed a well-ground piece of meat, heavy, yet rich in flavor. An exhale through the nose produced the sweet and unmistakable warming scent of truffles.  The chicken Panini was equally generous – the chicken breast was juicy and grilled with strong a strong smoky flavor, whilst the crisp romaine lettuce and bacon rounded out home-made Panini bread.

Throughout the entire dining experience, the staff proved highly competent – a rarity in these parts. Prompt, polite and extremely friendly, the young and energetic staff, clad in strangely ‘hip’ uniforms proved affable and confident hosts for our dinner. There were no gaps in service, every meal was served quickly and with a smile. However, it was the minute details of service that provided to be the most impressive. The staff anticipated needs – ketchup was brought as soon as my fork pierced a potato wedge, as if my server read my mind and our server had no problems explaining the little details of our dishes in a knowledgeable, yet unforced manner.
By the end of the meal, we were well fed and watered down with pitchers of home-made lemonade and martini.
 Chelsea was the little gem we had been looking for, providing true gourmet comfort food in a casual dining experience. Whilst it isn’t fancy, experimental nor the most prolific restaurant in Manila, it fills an ever widening gap of the local café bistro serving classic food to international standards for locals, free of pomp, ceremony and pretentious affectations found in other restaurants of this caliber.

What: Chelsea
Where:  G/F Serendra Piazza, Mc Kinley ParkwayFort Bonifacio, Taguig
Contact: (02) 909-7011

Operating Hours: Mon-Sun, 11AM-11PM
Cuisine: Gourmet Western/International
Wine: Yes, boutique beers available as well.
Average dining cost: P500


*Wide variety of salads and mains, including harder to find ingredients like figs and chilli jams
*Generous serving sizes
*Sunday Jazz Brunches
*Professional and well trained managers

* Pricey by local standards, but incredible value by international standards. *Choose your dishes well. Some are scrumptious, others so-so
*Best enjoyed with friends - a main course dish will overwhelm those with petite stomachs

Hope this review helped. 

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Listening to: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by Birdy
          <3: Chelsea
             =( : rainy days


  1. Hi! You don't know me but I love your blogs so much! I'm from elbi too and i'm a friend of your bestfriend (Gail). I admire you for who you are because you're a mellow fighter with a class. Haha. Anyways please don't stop writing because I am a fan! Sorry for being anonymous..:-)

    1. Hello! Thank you for dropping by! You made my day with your kind words :) You are one of the reasons why I still maintain this blog. I hope we can meet soon! Again, thank you and take care :)

    2. Nako! I'll probably go shy!! Btw.. I tried mochiko since I just live near atc (behind beda. Haha).. Anyway please don't stop writing.. Thank you..:-)

    3. Thank you!! hahaha hindi yan! Hope we could meet talaga and I'm glad you tried Mochiko :D


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