New restaurants are sprouting all over. Many have promising concepts, a few have questionable ones.
Having observed the dining scene for decades, I have an idea about what will work and what won’t. Of course, I keep this mostly to myself. I have been wrong many times, too, but I think I have a higher percentage of success when it comes to predicting those that will not make it.
A successful restaurant will eventually be copied. I just dined in this new place at SM Aura and I will boldly say that it’s bound to be a huge success.
The few benchmarks I use to gauge whether or not the food is great include: did I think of my loved ones, did I close my eyes to savor the flavors whenever I took a bite of most of the dishes, did I dream about or develop cravings for the dishes, or did many of the dishes surprise and confuse me (didn’t know at first what to feast on).
Shine Bakery and Café’s concept is not new, but the execution is totally different. There are many dishes that are comfort food, while a few dish combinations make one think, “Hey, that works.”
We started with Medjool dates topped with goat cheese spread. It was simply delicious—the fruit and cheese combo always works.
Then we had Caesar salad with wide bacon strips. Many restaurants offer Caesar salad, but none with this kind of sauce—the taste of the anchovy was deliberately made to stand out. Loved it.
The crispy French fries, Umami Fries, were topped with a combination of flaked nori and seasoning. The warm tomato soup was okay, too.
We tried the Classic Cheeseburger sliders. The truffle pasta was topped with black truffles, while the Bacon Mushroom Fondue burger was something any burger lover would flip for. Sandwiched between a tasty brioche, the bold, full-bodied burger was combined with the crispy texture of bacon and the creamy, salty taste of cheese fondue. Sarap! My son Turo and I loved it.
The batter-coated crispy fried chicken came with very creamy mashed potato. Talk about comfort food at its best, this was it. My other son Franco enjoyed it.
For the breakfast lover, there was the Corned Beef Croque Monsieur, which reminded me of Eggs Benedict on a totally new level. The shaved corned beef sits on a toasted brioche, then topped with a hollandaise-like sauce and a perfectly cooked fried egg.
But the one that hit home the most, for me, was the Duck Confit with waffles—perfectly crispy baked duck combined with a thick waffle dipped in a mildly sweet sauce. The combination was delightful. This dish is also offered with chicken and waffles.
For dessert, the chocolate truffle cookies are a must. I tried them newly baked and the middle part melted in my mouth.
The banana split and the éclair at Shine can also qualify as among the best in the country.
Eating here was one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had. Usually, one or two in the group would not be too happy with what they ordered. But at Shine, we had a 100-percent satisfaction rate.
To the talents behind this gold mine, chef Rob Pengson and wife Sunshine, take a bow!
Shine Bakery and Café is at 3/L, SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; tel. 5536566, 0917-7047118
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