I perked up when I saw a branch of Cafe Adriatico in Mall of Asia. The main branch has always been a culinary landmark in Malate, around 30 minutes by car from the mall. Despite Malate losing its cool factor to other areas in the Metro, I draw comfort in the fact Cafe Adriatico is still there, soldiering on, a food oasis with an Old World charm unmatched by its mall-based sister.
Finding a corner by the window, I ordered Knock-Out Knuckles, a forgettable martini hybrid, and for dessert-Claude's Dream
Knockout Knuckles is a fancy name for crispy pata--beloved of beer drinkers--deep fried pig trotters served with a spicy soy and vinegar drip. The dish was mostly crackling skin, tender meat, fat and cartilage, showered generously with fried garlic bits. To this day I can still remember the strong taste of garlic cutting through the rich taste of connective tissue, meat, and fat. After a few bites I asked the server to bag it, fearful for my already expanding gut and thighs.
Claude's Dream is a Filipino dessert favorite--pandan gelatin and young coconut on buffalo milk's ice cream--the perfect cap to a savory dish.