YOU’VE tried Red Velvet Cake and Red Velvet Cupcake in the past; now it’s time for you to try the liquid version, which is Red Velvet Smoothie, at Harina Artisan Bakery Café along Katipunan Ave., in White Plains, Quezon City.
Formerly Monsee’s but still owned and operated by the owners of Monsee’s, Harina Artisan Bakery Café opened in November 2013. Monsee’s still exists, but the owners decided to let it focus on institutional businesses, so Harina was opened to be its retail arm. That’s good news to Monsee’s regular customers, who love its crunchy and delicious Breadsticks (which come in Onion & Sour Cream, Bacon & Cheese, Almond, Garlic, Milk & Butter, Parmesan, and Plain Cheese flavors at Php100 to Php120 per pack) as well as its breads, pastries, cakes and savory pot pies. All Monsee’s favorites, such as Spanish Bread, Baguette, Cheese Roll with Buttercream, assorted muffins and cookies, can still be found in baskets on the wooden shelves of the bakery area – ready for takeouts, as usual. Selections include such artisan breads as Wheat Honey Walnut Loaf, Rustico, Italian Loaf, Apple Cinnamon Loaf and Brioche, which cannot be easily found in other bakeshops. Because they’re artisan breads, they’re made without preservatives and are awesome gourmet treats for bread lovers.
Harina also has quite a number of cakes available in the refrigerated display counter, including such exquisite creations as Premium Dark Chocolate Cake (Php850), Chocolate Fudge Cake (Php450), New York Style Cheesecake (Php850), White Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bundt Cake (Php850), Peaches & Cream Bundt Cake (Php850), Serious Rhum Cake (Php180), Strawberry Cloud Cake (Php850) and Chocolate Almond Smores (Php450).
A good part of Harina Artisan Bakery Café, though, is devoted to a dining area. With wooden tables and bench chairs that match the bread shelves and the counter, it exudes a cozy casual dining ambiance that’s perfect for nice, quiet lunches and small meetings.
Harina has an extensive menu of breakfast treats, such as Pancakes (stack of three, served with whipped butter and syrup), Muesli with Fruit (homemade muesli topped with assorted fruits), Strawberry Cheesecake-Stuffed French Toast (cheesecake-filled brioche topped with whipped cream and strawberry preserves), PBB Chocolate Stuffed French Toast (wheat honey walnut French Toast stuffed with creamy peanut butter, sliced bananas and choco-hazelnut spread), Biscuits (freshly baked Southern style biscuits served with butter and jam), Breakfast Tart (puff pastry shell filled with cream cheese, spinach, baked tomatoes, bacon and eggs), Quiche Lorraine (flaky pastry crust with savory filling, served with salad greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette), Steak and Eggs (rib-eye steak served with two fried eggs, French fries, baked tomatoes and toast), The Big Breakfast (vegetable and cheese omelet with a choice of Canadian ham, bacon or breakfast sausage and roasted pineapple, served with toast), Biscuit and Gravy (fried chicken fillet, bacon, baked tomatoes and biscuits, topped with white gravy), Vegetable and Cheese Omelet (filled with sautéed vegetables and cheese, served with toast and fruit slices), Pork Adobo & Kesong Puti Omelet (filled with pork adobo, kesong puti, tomatoes and onions, served with toast and fruit slices), Eggs Benedict (ciabatta topped with Gruyere, Canadian ham, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce), Homemade Corned Beef (slices served with fried eggs and garlic fried rice), Lukban Longanisa (fried native sausages of Lucban, Quezon, served with fried eggs and garlic fried rice), and Bangus Belly (fried bangus belly served with salted eggs and tomatoes and garlic fried rice), with prices ranging from Php165 for the simplest, which is Pancakes, to Php450 for the most expensive, which is Steak and Eggs.
One must not leave without ordering Harina’s Bloomin’ Bread (Php320), a crusty pull-apart Italian loaf filled with basil puree and an assortment of melted cheese, served with a dip of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. The bread is so big that it’s definitely for sharing among two, even three or four diners. Soft and chewy, it serves as a good starter to a good pasta or gourmet sandwich meal.
Of Harina’s pasta selections, one must-try is the Pesto Pasta with Grilled Cajun Chicken (Php250). It’s linguini tossed in pesto sauce, served with grilled Cajun chicken on top. It’s a generous amount of pasta, whose pesto sauce is not overpowering but just the right flavor, and the thin slice of grilled Cajun chicken is refreshing on the palate. If lunch should really be just one dish, the Pesto Pasta with Grilled Cajun Chicken is a complete and balanced meal in itself.
When it comes to the gourmet sandwiches, must tries are Waldorf Salad Sandwich (flaky pastry with filling of chicken, red and green apples, celery and chopped walnuts in mayonnaise) at Php220, Overloaded Tuna Cheese Melt (tuna and various cheeses on lightly toasted baguette) at Php220, and Adobo Pulled Pork (pulled pork adobo with fried kesong puti, lettuce and tomato on baguette) at Php265. My personal favorite when I had lunch at Harina yesterday, January 13, 2014, was the Overloaded Tuna Cheese Melt, which I took with a portion of Pesto Pasta with Grilled Cajun Chicken.
I also had tasting portions of Harina’s drinks — the Red Velvet Smoothie, Frozen Hot Chocolate and Apple Pie Smoothie. My hands-down favorite was the Frozen Hot Chocolate, which offered me a classic flavor of indulgence, although I also appreciated the effort of turning cake flavors into rich and creamy drinks.
(Harina Artisan Bakery Café is located at 118 Katipunan Ave., White Plains, Quezon City, with telephone number 352-6721. Store hours are Monday to Sunday, from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.)