It’s no secret that most Filipinos eat more meat and poultry than fruits and vegetables. This reflects on the restaurants we review as well. We were still nonetheless determined to try eating healthier food. Thus, we decided to give Corner Tree Cafe a try through our partnership with Big Dish. We have absolutely no problem eating meatless meals especially if it’s delicious enough to make us forget craving for meat.
Established more than eight years ago, Corner Tree Cafe lets customers enjoy international comfort food without meat. Their other dishes don’t even have dairy and eggs. Gluten-free options are also offered.
The owner, Ms. Chiqui, inspired by her sister who lives a vegetarian lifestyle, started the cafe as a move to promote a healthier way of eating food. For those who still don’t know, eating meat especially processed ones don’t have nutritious protein. This increases the risk of a shortened lifespan.
Eating meat also has a huge environmental impact because livestock requires much more land, food, water, and energy than plants. So instead of the human population being fed enough eventually, the resources are utilized to feed animals instead. Finally, there is an issue of animal cruelty which can be sickening when we think deeply.
Despite that, we’ll be hypocrites if we say such information can turn us into vegetarians by choice right away. What we can do instead is take baby steps in a “kinder way of eating” through Corner Tree Cafe.
Ambiance and/or Restaurant Interior
Located in the quiet part of Jupiter in Makati, it’s one of those restaurants where it feels very homey. One step inside and the bulletin board that’s free for all can be seen on the side. The waiting area that doubles also as a seat for customers looks like a real living room, complete with picture frames, and magazines that can be read while waiting. Meanwhile, the entire dining area itself oozes with coziness as well.
When it gets dark, the place turns into an intimate setting perfect for a romantic date. Their wall lamps with shades and ceiling lamps certainly set the warm mood. We really like the place as it gives off that feeling that you can relax and unwind from all of the things that hav been stressing one during the week.
Corner Tree Cafe proved that vegetables can be immensely versatile to satisfy even those who are meat eaters. In fact, it has earned great reviews, various awards, and is included in 2017’s Philippine Tatler Best Restaurants. It has also been visited by Natalie Dormer, the English actress who plays Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones. Just also for additional information, Corner Tree Cafe provided meals of famous international artists who visited the Philippines like Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, and more.
We started things slow with some DUKKA & BREAD, PHP 140 (or USD 2.78). It is our first time coming across dukka, an Egyptian side dish consisted of coarsely ground nuts and spices. It is served with olive oil and bread. The way of eating it is taking a piece of bread, dunking it in olive oil, and then sprinkling it with the dukka. The dukka is surprisingly tasty for me. Me-An prefers a flat bread instead of a tough one. Or she’ll have hummus instead since one has a choice of either dukka or hummus to go with the bread.
We then proceeded with their salad which is a staple in any vegetarian restaurant. What we got is their JAPANESE MIXED SEAWEED SALAD, PHP 320 (or USD 6.36). With the presence of Wakame seaweed, it’s instantaneously a different sort of salad. It’s actually packed with nutritional benefits so I can understand why it’s a great ingredient. Other ingredients include lettuce, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds. Organic soy ginger dressing is served on the side. Be careful in not overpouring it so the subtly sweet flavor of the Wakame won’t be overpowered.
It’s not all vegetables for Corner Tree Cafe as they also have pizza Toasts for those who still are looking for that familiar taste. Their pizza toasts are pretty much like a pizza, but uses ciabatta bread and are pretty small in size compared to what we are used to.
We ordered their BIANCA PIZZA TOAST, PHP 180 (or USD 358). It has fresh local mozzarella, fresh rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, roasted garlic, and sea salt in it. It tastes pretty much how I expected it to be but it feels less guilty to eat than the usual pizza toasts.
Moving on to their main dishes, this is where it gets a bit interesting. This is what I’ve been talking about earlier where they offer meat dishes minus the meat. I went with their BOWL OF CHILI, PHP 330 (or USD 6.56). This is a popular spicy Mexican classic which usually has tomato sauce, red pepper, beans, spices and minced beef placed in a bowl. It’s often served with rice or salad.
Corner Tree’s version is that they removed the meat and replaced them with zucchini and some Shiitake mushrooms. I’m personally a big fan of Chili con carne and I have to say, this is one of those instances where the modified version is way better compared to the original recipe, at least in my opinion. The chili base is in a word – perfect. Both the shiitake mushroom and zucchini totally made up for the absence of meat which I didn’t even crave for, to be honest as I eat it. This dish also comes with a cup of red rice or bread if you prefer. I chose the red rice and eating it with the chili is a match made from heaven.
I now have a healthier version of one of my favorite comfort foods.
Me-An, on the other hand, ordered their BAKED TOFU WALNUT BURGER, PHP 345 (or USD 6.86) which is essentially a burger but tofu and walnut are used as the patty. The wheat bun sandwiching it comes slathered with either mint yogurt sauce or vegan mayo. Served with sweet potato fries, Me-An found it lacking juiciness but it’s filling.
Indeed, the tofu patty is in no way a substitute for meat especially in dishes like a burger where it is practically the star of the comfort food. After grabbing a bite, it’s clear that the goal here is not to make it taste like a real patty but rather it serves as a healthier alternative. Non-vegetarian eaters may have to take several bites to like its taste.
For our dessert, I went with their FRESH FRUIT WITH LEMON POPPYSEED YOGHURT, PHP 170 (or USD 3.38) because I love yogurt (that’s why I’m called Yogo by Me-An). They used fresh mango and pineapple for their fruits while the poppyseed was mixed in the yogurt. I was actually surprised when I received it because the small cup has more fruits than yogurt. I realized just now that the menu said it is “fresh fruit” with yogurt in it and not the other way around. Nonetheless, I still end up liking it because the fruits used are generally sweet and the yogurt, though naturally sour, actually has a bit sweetness to it which is really nice.
Me-An ordered their SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE TORTE, PHP 190 (or USD 3.9). This is a slice of chocolate torte cake with salted caramel sauce on top. Their menu description pretty much says it all as this is really a rich and sinful cake.
The chocolate caramel tart torte offers a mouthful of sweet and salty creamy treat. It tastes absolutely amazing that I stopped eating my yogurt as I try to snatch the cake away from Me-An.
For drinks, Me-An had the ORGANIC LEMONGRASS ICED TEA, PHP 99 (or 1.97 USD) which has a strong taste of ginger. Muscavado sugar is used to sweeten it.
I had the MANGO LASSI, PHP 180 (or 3.59 USD) which is basically a yogurt drink that has milk and mango. It’s a refreshing drink that you’ll immediately think it’s a healthy drink after one sip.
Overall, we found Corner Tree Cafe as great restaurant whether one is a vegetarian or not. Despite not having what I think the most important ingredient in the Filipino cuisine, it’s safe to say that Corner Tree was able to state their point that eating healthy food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. We were even able to witness that some dishes tastes even better without meat. Thus, it’s worth a visit. Foreign visitors also intentionally visit it so would you want to miss out?
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Corner Tree Cafe
150 Jupiter Corner Saturn Street, Bel-Air, Makati City.
Operating Hours: 11AM to 10PM daily