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29 November 2014

"Two Guys, One Girl, Three Dishes and Cakes" (Maginhawa Street Food Adventure Series): Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace and the Round Robin Cafe

One Friday night, a girl and two guys met up for dinner. We were supposed to dine in one particular famous restaurant on Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. Sadly, the place was booked for an exclusive party. That was my fault entirely because I did not inquire in advance. However, as it turned out, my oversight was a blessing in disguise. The three of us decided to check out a nearby restaurant that was conspicuously hidden.


Blacksoup Café + Artspace was a revelation to us. The place was quite cozy and surprisingly not very crowded for a Friday night. Compared to some restaurants along Maginhawa Street, Blacksoup Café + Artspace was also relatively big, and you can dine al fresco.  The place may appeal to art lovers or anybody looking for a quieter ambiance more conducive to conversations. The staff was also quite accommodating, and down-to-earth, especially Eloisa. None of that, “we’re so posh, the help wears a uniform.”  Blacksoup Café + Artspace is also part of the “Suspended Meals” movement in the Philippines. Suspended meals works like this. You pay for a meal but you do not eat it or take it home. Instead, the establishment donates your order to the needy. It is actually more than that, but that is the gist. In fact, you can even volunteer. [You can get more details below.].  


On to the food…

Since the three of us have quite different tastes in food, we ordered different dishes. None of us ordered the house specialty. In my experience, the true test of a restaurant is to sample their regular dishes. The house specialty will always be delicious. That is almost a given but if the regular dishes also stand out, then logically, the other dishes on the menu, even the unpopular ones will also taste nice.

Left: Hot Balut (Photo taken from Blacksoup Cafe + Artspace
Facebook Page)
Right: Crab Mango Roll (Photo by Bianca)

For appetizers, we ordered crab mango roll and sautéed hot balut. Yes, balut! Give it a chance because the sautéed hot balut was one of my favorites. It was spicy and good. Even Bianca, who was not too eager to eat duck embryo, also enjoyed it although she had to eat only the yolk and white part of the egg. As a counter balance, the crab mango roll was deliciously light. It was like a Filipino version of the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls.

Chicken Basil with Cheese Stuffing

For the main dish, A.R. ordered the chicken basil with cheese stuffing. In fact, he ordered two, but opted just to have one serving of rice. The restaurant was generous enough to adjust the price of the second order.  In the end, A.R. was the most satisfied among the three of us. He was even quite generous with his compliments to the place.

Creamy Spinach

Bianca ordered creamy spinach pasta and I ordered the most interestingly named dish on the menu, “You Won’t Be Single for Long.” Yes! How very brazen of them to promise such a thing. Obviously, the moniker is a jest but it still tickles your curiosity.  “You Won’t Be Single for Long” is a vegetarian pasta dish consisting of tomatoes, onions and vodka cream.

You Won't Be Single for Long

The creamy spinach pasta was nice. The taste is minimalist and the spinach and the sauce work well together. The flavor does not explode in your mouth but it satiates you sufficiently.  “You Won’t Be Single for Long,” on the other hand, did not have the kick I was expecting but perhaps because the hot chili of the balut numbed my tongue. Eventually, I tasted the vodka. Good enough, but I am still single though. (Insert laugh)


I wanted to order a glass of wine but sadly, they ran out.  The place also makes their own ice cream, but we decided to try that next time. As for the cost, the dishes are quite affordable. 

Overall, Blacksoup Café + Artspace is worth a try, and we would definitely come back. Most importantly, the place is not in a mall, and I think that is the beauty of eating in places like Maginhawa Street. These restaurants are bringing back the allure of eating in stand-alone restaurants. There are no distractions, no moviegoers passing by or noisy shoppers. It really feels like you are eating out.

After dinner, Bianca was in the mood for sweets so we walked to The Round Robin Café, just  one to two minutes away on foot from Blacksoup.  Bianca had the red velvet cake; A.R. had the banoffee and I had key lime pie. All three cakes were delicious but the key lime pie was the best of the three. Their americano was quite strong, and for a coffee lover, that is a plus.

(Top to bottom) Red velvet cake, banoffee, key lime pie
and americano

The staff was also quite friendly and even entertained our jokes. They even let us stay beyond their closing hours.

In the end, we had an enjoyable time. Good food, warm staff and nice friends, all make for an almost perfect Friday night. It would have been perfect if the entire gang was with us but they were all busy. In fact, the three of us were lucky to push through with our dinner after several cancellations a few weeks back.

That is the end of another Maginhawa food adventure. We have already tried four restaurants in the area, and more to go. Until next time.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Blacksoup Café + Artspace
Unit G, Maginhawa Bldg., 154 Maginhawa St. Sikatuna Village
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: 4352549 and  09056641273
Open: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 11:00pm

The Round Robin Café: Cakes and Good Eats
168 Maginhawa St., Corner Mapagkumbaba St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: 436-6858


REVIEW VALIDITY:  This post is valid only from December 2012 to May 2014.
Our food reviews are only good for 6 months because the quality of food and services change over time.  Some improve and some deteriorate.

MESSAGE FROM THE FOOD CRITICS DEPARTMENT
[1] Our food critics do not and will never do paid write-ups. They would rather drink hemlock.
[2] We are also careful in choosing which member will do the review.
[3] Our reviewers do not know any of the owners or staff of a restaurant that we review.

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