My side of Manila is finally getting the long-delayed development it deserves, thanks to the MRT 7 train line. The line begins at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City; traverses through North Avenue and Elliptical Road; passes the stretch of Commonwealth and Regalado avenues and turns right at Quirino Highway.
It then passes the borders of Quezon City and Caloocan City, finally leaving the National Capital Region and entering the province of Bulacan. The MRT 7 finally reaches its end at the city of San Jose Del Monte.
SM Fairview, a major mall in Manila’s northern suburbs that the MRT 7 will pass through, is incidentally a short drive from where I live. A recent expansion of the mall complex facilitated the opening of many new restaurants – including Stockwell Café + Lounge.
Prior to its opening up north, Stockwell had been a tenant at The Corner Market in The Podium, which I wrote about in a triptych from 2020. I paid no mind to the joint during my later trips to The Podium, as I only got to see it during far-off trips.
Until I saw an announcement the Stockwell had opened at SM Fairview. It was then that I decided to check the place out.
Stockwell is known for offering coffee brewed in a myriad of ways. Whether you want your cup of joe prepared syphon brewing, AeroPress, flat bottom pour-over, V-60 pour over or cold brew, this coffee shop can do it for you. The SM Fairview branch is much bigger, as Stockwell occupies 100% of this space. In contrast, its location at The Corner Market is limited to its tenant space as the food court follows an open dining concept.
I noticed during my visits, however, the many of Stockwell‘s menu items were unavailable. I guess even dining establishments themselves are bearing the brunt of food shortages. Coffees under the alternative brewing method were also unavailable, which surprised me – given that Stockwell is known for these. Nevertheless, I simply had to make do with what was available.
Let’s start with the food. I originally wanted to order two salmon dishes during my remote working session, but Stockwell did not have salmon that time. Thus, I opted for the next best thing – chicken – for my late lunch.
First was the Chicken Ala King (P220), served in a rice bowl. This consisted of chicken chunks and button mushroom slices cooked in a cream-based sauce, with green beans and carrots on the side. While this version is commendable, I found that this radically differed from the chicken ala king I knew growing up.
Chicken ala king typically uses diced chicken, mushrooms, carrots, and peas that are all cooked in the cream sauce. It’s often served in bread cups, if not rice. Bread cups are easy to make: Trim off the edges of white bread slices, brush on some melted butter, put them inside muffin tins to get that cup shape, and toast for a few minutes.
The second dish I ordered, Chicken Cordon Bleu (P235), was more in line with the version I knew as a child. It consisted of a chicken roll with ham and cheese inside, fried until golden brown and topped off with bechamel sauce. A serving of garlic rice and stir-fried green beans and carrots accompanied the chicken roll.
Chicken cordon bleu is a personal favorite of mine as it allows me to properly portion the viand and enjoy the rice at the same time. This version by Stockwell did not disappoint, with the bechamel sauce fulfilling a two-fold purpose – neutralizing the ham and cheese and giving the chicken a boost of creaminess. The garlic rice and vegetables provided contrasting textures and tastes, making the chicken more delectable with every bite.
Of course, a visit to Stockwell isn’t complete without trying out its coffee. I was able to order its Hot Latte (P120), which worked well to aid in digestion. According to the joint’s website, this consists of espresso and milk with a lesser proportion of foam. True enough, the drink did not have much foam – and I was able to immediately taste the blend of coffee and milk.
Meanwhile, the Stockwell Iced Coffee (P130) is for those who love their cup of joe on a hot summer day. I liked that this beverage was not acidic, though I explicitly did not request for milk or sugar. Apparently, you could request the two – and I will take note of that the next time I order.
Stockwell is not just coffee; it also has items for chocolate lovers, which I ordered. The Iced Choco Caramel (P150) is the joint’s version of the Starbucks frappe, albeit in a non-blended version. I personally found this drink too sweet and watered down; maybe the hot version fares better?
On the other hand, Stockwell‘s Iced Spanish Chocolate (P130) is noteworthy. While it’s sweet due to the chocolate used, the sprinkling of chocolate powder neutralized that sweetness. The restaurant’s menu on the website describes this as a drink with an “equal ratio of chocolate and milk,” but I found that it leaned more towards the chocolate side of things.
I also ordered the joint’s Seafood Chowder (P150) to whet my appetite. While I found the soup rather watery, I’d like to commend the joint for actually including seafood in it. In fact, I found half a mussel – which proves that the ingredients they used are legit! Also, the soup was served in a ramekin bowl compared to others served in bread bowls – which doesn’t make you feel full sooner.
The Salted Caramel Cheesecake (P175) was the perfect way to cap off my meal. Stockwell did not scrimp on the caramel for this cheesecake, which had the right amount of sweetness. I paired this off the Hot Latte above, jiving well with the equally proportioned coffee and milk beverage. Unfortunately, it no longer had this cake in stock when I stopped by for a later visit.
And that’s it for my post! I’m personally happy that most of the restaurants that have opened in Manila’s urban zones are now setting up shop. With the MRT 7 line set to become operational by 2023, I’m sure the northern side of the capital will see more establishments spring up.
In fact, Scandinavian homeware store IKEA – famous for its meatballs – plans to open its second branch beside SM Fairview! In my view, this is definitely feasible as the area has a lot of idle land and ample public transportation.
Whoever though that my side of Manila, once known as a place where car chases for Philippine B-movies of the action genre were filmed, would host a myriad of restaurants years on?
Until the next post, bon appetit!
Stockwell Café + Lounge
UGF, The Parkway, SM City Fairview,
Brgy. Pasong Putik, Novaliches,
Quezon City 1118