I can’t help but get the feeling that Sourdough Cafe + Deli wants to be known as a hidden gem in the foodie haven that is the Tomas Morato area. Tucked way inside an office building in a quiet residential corner, you might even drive past it if you don’t know where to look. It’s a good thing I was looking!
Pepe Samson was the one who introduced this restaurant to me because he knew it was going to be right up my alley. Spending time with each other during our California cheese trip made us realize that we like a lot of the same things: for instance, good sourdough and good cheese. He found both those things in this restaurant when he visited, so he excitedly recommended this place to me.
I love the modern and clean vibe of the restaurant. It has this simplistic luxurious feel to it with the wine displays and the marble details, at the same time it’s quite casual. It’s the kind of place where you won’t feel intimidated to eat and drink alone, but instead feel fancy doing so. Sourdough Cafe has a daily unlimited wine night promo from 4pm to 11pm at Php 599 per head, which was a tempting idea. But I thought I’d save that for next time when I go out with my friends. (Apparently, the vibe is completely different upstairs.)
It occurs to me that the idea of wine nights is such a tita thing, but I feel like I’m at an age where I want to live a little every now and then. Wine is certainly a part of my tita identity lol. Rather than hard liquor and cocktails, I do appreciate a good glass of red wine these days. I probably wouldn’t be able to maximize the quantity of my wine intake because I don’t drink to get drunk, but there seems to be a lot of good wines to choose from. Certainly some that’s worth that Php 599.
Going in during the lunch hour, I was looking forward to their sourdough bread. I knew this was their pride and glory. It’s in their name after all! But I wanted to try some before buying a whole one. I was surprised they had such a limited quantity on display. Perhaps they were still prepping the starters at that time. There were some sourdough bread-based items on their menu that weren’t available to order. That was pretty sad for me.
The bright spot was seeing all the familiar California cheese on display. I had already gone through the cheeses I took home from the California cheese trip, so I was happy I could replenish my stash here. They have Fiscalini and Rouge Creamery; two brands I quite enjoy! The great thing is, they also have cured meats and preserves that you can buy to make your own cheese and meat board at home.
Going back to our table to await our orders, we were served with an appetizer of sourdough bread. I have no idea if this sort of thing is a true Italian practice, but I really enjoy dipping crusty bread into olive oil and balsamic. My other reason for getting excited over this was that I get to try their sourdough bread, finally. The bread slices arrived toasted but it quickly became tough and difficult to bite into. A total opposite of what Pepe told me he experienced when he came here.
It made me a little nervous for our first dish, which was basically their sourdough dipped into a special mixed cheese fondue. The Queso Fundido (Php 375) was absolutely delish, and it helps to soften the bread once the cheese sauce seeps through the crumb. The bread is not nearly enough to sop up all the cheese but my brothers and I did not mind eating it by the spoonful. The fondue is gooey but it also has a very creamy mouthfeel, and I got some beer undertones in there.
In the mood to splurge, we ordered a Mixed Platter with Cheese and Charcuterie (Php 595). I make cheese boards occasionally at home, but never with super high quality meats like these. The combination of meats and cheeses on this platter makes for a balanced eating experience. Most of the meats are on the salty side, so they paired them with cheeses that had some nutty and bitter undertones. The pepper jack actually has a nice spicy kick.
One of my favorite dishes is their Granchi e Gamberi (Php 425). Basically it’s a cream and crab fat based pasta with some prawns and this delicious touch of heat that keeps your tastebuds hankering for more. I loved the texture and the bite of the homemade fresh pasta, but it’s really that savory crab fat that gives this dish character. The serving is way too small for the way it makes you crave for it, to be honest. Although the quality isn’t anything one could complain about, I just feel like they could’ve given us a couple more bites at the price.
We were supposed to order one of their signature menu items, but the flatbreads were not available at the time of our visit. Instead, we ended up with their Pastrami Sandwich (Php 345), with sauerkraut, mustard, and mozzarella. This is a classic deli offering and I was hoping it would take me back to New York or something, but again the sourdough bread was hard to bite into. The thick slices meant I had to open my mouth really wide to bite into the sandwich properly.
I ended up eating this like an open-faced sandwich, dipping the other piece of bread into the cheese fondue. Taste-wise, I thought the sandwich could use a bit more sauerkraut to make the flavors jump out more.
For our main course, we ordered some Osso Bucco (Php 695 for sharing). Sourdough Cafe’s red wine and herb braised US beef shank had a lot of expectations riding on it. I was happy about the portion size when they first placed the dish on the table, but I was a bit disappointed by the lack of tenderness of the meat. I was expecting something melt in the mouth and juicy. Instead, this was so tough it only got lodged between my teeth.
What a waste it was, because the flavor was really good! You could taste the red wine as well as the sweetness of the tomatoes used for the braise, plus that scattering of herbs on top added some nice layer of flavor. Matigas lang talaga.
We finally come to the end of our meal in the form of the Basque Burnt Cheesecake (Php 195 per slice). Now THIS is what I’m talking about! I don’t remember the last time I ate this particular kind of cheesecake but perhaps it didn’t make the same impression as this one did. The first bite was already a rush of sweet, savory, salty, tangy heaven. I immediately took another few bites and even decided to take home a slice for dinner! This was SO GOOD.
Despite some complaints here and there, I actually enjoyed the experience of eating here at Sourdough Cafe overall. I can imagine myself coming back for come coffee and a slice of that cheesecake, or even for wine nights with my best friends. Quite possibly sooner rather than later, especially since wine nights start early lol. I really like the restaurant. I like the friendly staff and the interesting food choices they have. The only thing I wish they could improve on is their consistency.
I think it’s really strange that people who I’ve recommended this place to would give me totally different feedback on the same one dish. Heck, I’ve had someone tell me they didn’t one hundred percent enjoy the cheesecake because it was super soggy and soft. The cheesecake I had when I came here was perfect and absolutely delicious!
I suppose I need to make another trip to Sourdough Cafe + Deli to see if there will be differences when I order some of the same things again. I am especially keen to try their sourdough bread again, but maybe in a different sandwich. I am planning to skip the osso bucco however. This dish is one thing we all agreed on to be a bit tough to eat. Hopefully though, the inconsistencies in their other dishes are just some soft opening kinks they can still work around. I want to be able to recommend this place without hesitation.
Sourdough Cafe + Deli
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. I paid for this meal on my own and received no compensation for writing this feature. All opinions stated above are my own unless otherwise stated.