Wildflour: Hipster Manila cafe
Manila cafe bakery Wildflour stands out among hipster joints with its delicious fare that tastes even better than it looks
If you travel to Manila for work or leisure as often as I do of late - for the World Street Food Congress and our soon-to-open Makansutra Food Hall in SM Megamall - you will know by now that there's no proper street food culture in that "Incredible Philippines".
Incredible that all those centuries of multi-coloured and cultured culinary heritage yielded nada in the street food department (excluding the truly desperate snacks like quack-quack or fried ducks egg, Betamax which is grilled pig's blood cubes, or Adidas, fried chicken feet).
Come meal time, I am often forced to look for finer fare, cafes and restaurants.
Many of them are pretty predictable and easily available in Singapore too, save for some old-school establishments that offer comforting Pinoy heritage fare like Abe or the slightly progressive Sarsa.
Then we stumbled upon Wildflour in the heart of town, in Legaspi. With racks of wine and baskets of bread beckoning, it looked like something you'd find in hipster Tiong Bahru.
It did not really catch our attention and the only reason we stepped in was that we were too tired and hadn't had nice sandwiches and bread for a while (notice I pre-qualified the "nice" part with a big spoonful of benefit of doubt thrown in).
The first thing this red-blooded and red IC kiasu foodie in me did was scour the prices - "not cheap, Singapore pricing", I thought.
I skipped the wine menu as it was too early for Merlots and Pinots (in reality, I can only tell if it's white or red and good or not, followed by cheap or expensive).
Then they laid half a little baguette with a knob of butter on a chopping board to ease the wait for our order.
And then magic happened.
I never knew I could eat so much bread at one go.
The bread just crackled in the mouth and exposed the soft, fluffy and airy insides.
We asked for seconds, and this was just the bread and butter pre-starters.
I could not stop dipping them in the humble, thick, tangy and umami laden tomato soup (best I've had in a while).
Then my Cuban Sandwich (430 pesos) came and it was happy American-sized portions with a bed of homemade potato chips.
The tightly packed slices of ham, roast pork, cheese, pickles and mustard with salsa were held by two slices of light and toasty foccacia.
I was mesmerised by the Mussels and Fries (450 pesos), done with butter, hints of white wine, celery onions and parsley, again with half a loaf of the fab baguette.
It was all made better with the fresh green mussels and the double fried fries (you can't get them tasting like this with just a straight fry up).
The Crispy Parmesan Churros (250 pesos) came as described but the only flaw was it felt like raw batter deep inside.
I felt the Sweet Corn Waffles (380 pesos) looked a tad meh, like any hipster cafe here would offer.
That is, until I took a bite.
The richness of the corn waffle with a stack of ham diffused by the blueberries and twisted by the runny egg, was love at first munch.
We could not finish the ginormous platter (it's so big, they will charge you if you request to split the portion).
Frankly, the cafe bakery looked and felt like any other of that genre in Singapore, except they do their fare better. That makes all the difference.
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Wildflour Cafe and Bakery
Frabelle Business Centre
111, Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
7am-10pm daily, (Sunday from 8am-4pm)
Tel: +63 2833-9799