Opening Hours: 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Monday – Thursday), 10:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. (Friday – Saturday), 10:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Sunday)
Phone (Executive Office): 897-0600
Phone (Catering Office): 890-8090, 890-8023
March may not be "Filipino Food Month" — at least, not officially — but let's start it off with a food review anyway. Today, we'll talk about a restaurant which we unintentionally left out of a previous list of best middle-end Filipino restaurants (sorry about that!) called Cafe Via Mare.
Granted, this place isn't that new anymore. It's been around since 1982, when it put up its flagship branch at Greenbelt 1, and has since expanded to 13 outlets all over Metro Manila. Aside from coffee (hence the "cafe" in the name), Via Mare also serves seafood, as well as traditional Filipino food with a twist.
With that in mind, we've sampled a handful of their offerings, and give our report as follows.
If there's one thing you can say about Via Mare's interior, it's "distinctly Filipino." From the sturdy woven chairs, to the wooden outline of the cafe's logo on the ceiling, Cafe Via Mare is a homey restaurant through and through.
The cafe has two entrances: one from inside the mall, and the other from outside. It's probably better to take the one from outside, though, since the one from inside leads almost straight into the kitchen — which makes for a rather disorienting entrance.
For this review, we ordered one Sirloin Tapa (Php320), one Oyster Combination (Php495), one Mango Fresh Fruits Shake (Php125) and one Shooters (Php98).
The Sirloin Tapa came with plain rice, atchara, two sunny side up eggs, and what looks like a pinkish version of vinegar.
As for the Oyster Combination (see the first picture), it was a meal unto itself. Lying on an oyster-shaped plate filled with salt, the 10 oysters come in the following varieties: D'uxelles, Boursin, Parmesan, Wasabi and Rockefeller. If you can't decide which variety of oyster to pick, or you want a relatively light appetizer to share with your companions, this meal should do the trick.
And then we have the Shooters.
If you want a simple dessert, the mais con hielo and guinomis will suffice. But if you're looking for more variety in your dessert — specifically, one that has jackfruit, ube and kaong (sugar palm) among others — then the halo-halo may suit your palate more.
Finally, we have the Mango Fresh Fruit Shake.
The servers respond fast. As soon as we set foot inside, we were given an appropriate seat.
For the orders, the Sirloin Tapa and Mango Shake arrived a few minutes after we asked for them. The Oyster Combination and Shooters took a little longer: About 30 minutes after the previous two arrived. The water was served in the middle of, instead of before, meals. In our opinion, the service could have been improved in this area.
Also, as with the other Power Plant restaurants we reviewed before, the service charge was between 8 to 9 percent of our total bill. We still don't know how the mall arrived at this strangely inexact service charge rate, so if any of you readers know — or can warrant an educated guess — don't hesitate to chime in your thoughts!
For us, Cafe Via Mare was just okay. The food was varied, and wasn't terrible by any means. However, we felt that the restaurant could offer so much more, and keep up with more well-known competitors like Max's Restaurant and The Aristocrat. Considering that the cafe's been around for over 30 years, you'd expect better from them.
Still, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Since the dishes we tried weren't their signature ones — the bibingka galapong, pancit luglog, dinuguan and puto bumbong — it might've affected our dining experience. For that one visit, we give them 8.0/10.