This is not your typical café where you queue up to grab a quick cup of brewed coffee, maybe a cookie, to-go.
26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is, in fact, a full-service restaurant. And it's not just simple sandwiches, pasta, or pastries on offer here. It revamped its menu in September 2017 to offer "classic and homestyle food with all-day breakfast. Observing who our target market is, we now offer bigger plates for sharing to cater to groups and families,” shared Chef Luisa del Rosario.
New yet familiar flavors
All the famous Coffee Bean beverages are present, don't get us wrong. What’s particularly unique in this location are the dish offerings that range from savory breakfast fare to main entrées, and more. Around 80 percent listed in its menu are new items and the rest are bistro favorites.
During the day, the place is buzzing with corporate folks having lunch or quick meetings. But when my husband and I went there for dinner one weekend, the vibe was different. There’s more peace and quiet as you enjoy a hearty meal.
The place is pretty big, as it can accommodate around 100 diners, but our dinner felt intimate since we were seated by one of the booths, which is just perfect for couples. There are other spaces in the restaurant where you can put the tables together in case you’re dining with a big group. And I especially like the space where there’s a vertical garden on one wall. The trendy vibe it exudes adds more oomph to the dining atmosphere.
Share a bowl of French Onion Soup (P225) as it can be filling, especially with a freshly baked sourdough bread it comes in. It’s a warm and comforting dish, and beautiful too with the blanket of melted mozzarella on top. The sweet onions, savory broth, and the stringy mozzarella were a good mix.
It's my husband's top pick, something he’d definitely go back for on our next visit. We now understand why the chef said, “26th St. Bistro is definitely an elevated The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf experience.”
Never mind that it was dinnertime, we ordered the seemingly breakfast item Steak & Eggs (P455). It comes with beef strips, sunny side-up eggs, and garlic rice — definitely a leveled-up version of the traditional tapsilog, featuring premium USDA steak that was tender and still a bit pink in the middle—just the way I like it.
If you like the pungent flavor of garlic like I do, you’ll be pleased with the generous sprinkling of toasted garlic flakes on both the rice and beef.
To add a little something healthy to our meal, we shared the Shrimp and Pomelo (P395) that highlighted Asian flavors. It’s a mix of romaine lettuce, cilantro and mint leaves that were tossed in coconut lime dressing with a Thai fish sauce base.
Its toppings include poached shrimp, pomelo, roasted peanuts and desiccated coconut. Best to ask for chili flakes on the side and sprinkle some to your liking because it brings out another layer of flavor.
Those who like creamy pasta will be in seventh heaven with the restaurant’s version of Mac & Cheese (P355). Picture a bed of fusilli noodles in a cast iron pan that’s enveloped in creamy cheese sauce made with provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan.
All those three cheeses make it a very rich dish and even more so if you take the option to add bacon (P125). It's a very heavy dish, one you’d probably have a difficult time finishing as it comes with two thick slices of buttered sourdough bread. Pro-tip: You’d be better off sharing the calories with a companion.
Something you may want to keep for yourself is Nono’s Chocolate Oblivion, a very decadent chocolate cake by Classic Confections. This is not available in all the Coffee Bean branches so make sure to get this while at 26th St. Bistro.
For chocoholics, this is what their dreams are made of—layers of chocolate cake, whipped chocolate cream, cocoa powder, which are covered with walnut and praline bits and caramelized toffee.
It’s so sweet, and oh so chocolate-y, that each bite will surely put a smile in your face. Now that was a nice ending to our meal—that, and of course, and a cup of fresh brew. — LA, GMA News
26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 26th Street corner 5th Avenue and 5/F East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Facebook.