• Rhizaldy Manalo

Refinery Café: Subtle Lessons in Culinary Excellence

Why is your life in Metro Manila so drab?

Every day all you do is wake up, go to work, drink the usual - in some cases - stale office coffee; then you come back home and go to sleep. Every once in a while, this mundane vicissitude is accentuated with the usual Starbucks night out with friends, or if you're more of the Canadian type - "Ey!" you're into Tim Hortons. Not me! I like to shake my options a bit from the usual to the unknown. Here is my take on Rockwell's baby, Refinery Café.

This coffee shop isn't really new, in fact, it has 2 other branches: one in Salcedo Village in Makati and another is in Greenhills. While I've been to all their branches at least once, my favorite is the one at Rockwell in Makati. I'm not sure why. Probably the thoroughfare ambiance, and the line up of other shops I can visit before hunkering down with my laptop and enjoying a meal.

Yes, your heard it - Refinery is not just a coffee shop, it's actually a full-blown restaurant. Here are some of my personal experiences with the meals I've tried.

The Salmón Benēdict

Anyone who knows me, and I mean really know me, can tell you that I love poached eggs and salmon. I mean, what's not to love? You have the creamy and runny texture of what looks to be fried egg, but (and I can't emphasize this enough) it's not fried so it's healthy! While salmon... oh wow! Where do I start with that salmon? For one, it's soft, light, and brushy texture on your tongue. The beautiful pinkness of the meat. The crunchy and tasty torched skin. It all goes perfectly well with the poached eggs.

Therefore, you have Salmon Benedict - yes I spelled it in somewhat french accents in the title - so sue me! Just kidding, please don't 🙂 Now, Refinery did not stop with just Salmon and Poached eggs. No no no! They continued with one of the tastiest Hollandaise sauce I've ever tasted, I mean - the playful tastes that run amok in my mouth when I first ate this concoction leaves me speechless. Not to mention the peppery taste of the arugula leaves gingerly placed on top on top of the sauce, and the crunchy - yet subtle texture of the croissant base left me with a heart attack - true story! Well... not really. But the serving I had made me crave for more. 

I had two orders that first day. Now that is a true story.

The Bacon Tocino

Yes, I'm done playing with french accents on the spelling. But I haven't even begun describing the cacophony of music i experienced with this meal - and by that I mean, whoever came up with the recipe to the Bacon Tocino at Refinery's really knows their stuff.

I mean, I don't eat pork - and at the time of my eating this meal, I did not know that it was pork I was having - but damn! This meal is out of this world! So what's in this craziness? Well, you have thick slices of cured pork belly in a sweet glaze that reminds you of those of school-day mornings when your mom serves you bacon and eggs and rice with a sprinkling of Knorr seasoning, served with a multigrain garlic fried rice and two - count 'em, two - fried eggs. Together with the meal is Refinery's beef tapa is in that happy middle between saucy and dry, the perfect marinade to the rich beef belly slices the kitchen generously tops over rice.

What more can you ask for?

Yes, yes, I know I've eaten more than what I'm letting off here. But if I were to write all my menu favorites in this article, I might have to fly back to the Philippines to eat at Refinery's and then head back to Doha for work.

So please, let's move on shall we? Now that I've seasoned your taste buds, let's talk about the black stuff and no I'm not being racist. Let's talk about - coffee.

That black gold for which this article was originally meant. I told you before, and I'll say it again, Refinery has all the pick-me-ups you can possibly imagine, let's begin with some of my favorites.

La Trinidad, Benguet Coffee Beans

I love my country so you have to take what I'm about to say with a little bit of salt: did you know that back in Jose Rizal's time, the Philippines was the world's major exporter of coffee? It's true, and I've written a comprehensive blog about it right here.

Now, on to business. Any coffee provided it's not a dark roast, made out of these beans are sure to be nutty, fruity, sweet, citrusy, with notes of passion fruit, and fresh soil.

Yes, you've read it right, notes of fresh soil! Now, who wouldn't want to taste dirt? I'm kidding!

When I say fresh soil, I mean earthy texture. Imagine aromas of nuts, and some wild berries, all floating around your tongue, and all of a sudden - as you swirl your tongue around - you taste the sweetness and citrusy goodness all at once, like drinking an apple-orange flavored drink but with the bitter-sweet aftertaste that comes with a subtle earthy texture as the last lingering note.

Just imagine, drinking this while reading a book.

Brazil Fazenda Rodomunho Beans

Another favorite of mine. Although I'm more a fan of Philippine-grown beans like Barako beans, and the item that came before this one, I'm still and will always be a sucker for good quality Brazilian beans - not the wo.. gosh I need to stop this mind of mine.

So, what can you expect from the Fazenda beans?

Not too different from the usual Brazilian brews, the Fazenda is light and velvety - primarily coz of the low-altitude at which the beans are grown making it more akin to capture more nutrients from the soil and more oxygen from the air. But... what caught me off guard was what comes after...

Imagine this, I drank a sip - the first time ever - and whilst I'm playing the coffee around my mouth and reading my emails, I tasted it. The amazing peanut butter and cocoa flavor that I cannot place. I mean, I had to do a double-take at what I was drinking and thought that maybe I had some Reese's pieces before drinking the coffee, but no - all that flavor, was just in that one sip.

It's like, heaven opened up and a deluge of salty peanut butter and Nutella blew me away.

I have to cut this short now. I believe this article is #notspon 🙂but then again, writing about my food experiences is so worth it.

I would implore you to visit Refinery. It's not always that you get to enjoy some of life's best foods with good quality coffee.

Refinery's Rockwell Branch is located at Joya Tower, 28 Plaza Drive Rockwell Center, Makati, 1210 Metro Manila.

All credits for the images used for this post go to Jericho San Miguel.

Rhiz Manalo is the co-partner to CentrAsia Tours a Central Asia Tourism Agency, Co-Founder, and Managing Partner of The White Dog Collective experts in corporate and SMB digitization. He is a seasoned Digital Marketer, a prolific Blogger, career-driven Systems Architect, creative Web Designer, and a loving father to a beautiful 7-year-old girl whom he misses so much!

Check out his portfolio here.

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