Food

This Affordable Coffee Shop is at Shangri-La at the Fort

The coffee isn't as cheap as a water-sachet combo, but it's far from the usual eye-popping hotel bill.
IMAGE Shangri-La at the Fort
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The pursuit for a proper coffee shop never seems to end. You find the perfect one then, two months later, everybody else seems to find it too. There is constant yearning, sipping, and transferring in the search for a sanctuary with enough hazy coffee smells to invigorate us to productivity. Bake House, however, appears to have all the makings to fill that deep, dark, painful void.

It is fairly intimate, with a long counter that features a well-appointed register and a dazzling display of the day’s confections. At first glance, there are only a few tables until you walk in and realize the room extends farther in the back. There are plush orange booths to keep you comfy for long stretches of work as well as tall tables and lanky stools for meetings that you want to get over with quickly. The entire shop is bathed in a that nice, warm coffee-shop glow, which lends itself well to all kinds of coffee dependencies, from emergency drop-ins to marathon laptop sessions.

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Bake House was designed by Charlie & Rose, interior designers from Hong Kong 

Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
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Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.

The major difference between Bake House and other coffee shops is that the former is situated inside Shangri-La at the Fort; right next to the concierge, it is the first thing you'll see past the entrance. Tucked within the confines of an upscale hotel, Bake House instantly weeds out unworthy dilettantes whose superficial commitment to coffee won’t let them endure the excruciating steps of airport-like hotel security. Putting together the industrial chrome that seems to have taken over new wave coffee shop designs with wooden crates and flowers that translate universal rustic comfort, Bake House is serious not just about coffee but about its coffeeshop-ness. If you need more evidence, the free Wi-Fi confirms it.

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The coffee, which is sourced from Toby’s Estate, is by no means cheap, but it certainly fails to illicit the same eye-popping effect as most bills from hotel restaurants. Bake House’s premise is clear: though it is by a powerhouse hotel chain, it’s a coffee shop that just happens to be inside a hotel. It also goes beyond the aims of third wave cafes and opts for a higher, eco-conscious message—a reminder of which begins with the bicycle planter at the entrance that most customers might overlook. Beneath all the flowers, it's a model of the famed bamboo bike.

Everything is baked in-house and with emphasis on the Filipino palate.

Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
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Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
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Bake House puts its efforts in creating a zero-waste environment: biodegradable packaging, bamboo tumblers (also for sale), no single-use plastic. The menu's piece de resistance is the Conscious Cookie, a striking confection featuring ingredients that didn’t quite meet the measuring cup. The long-term goal is to reduce food waste.

Oftentimes coffee shops fail on the one thing that makes their coffee better: food, but Bake House, the wayward child of Shangri-La and still under its meticulous gaze, manages to create a delectable menu: amazing viennoiserie that are sweet, savory, salty (and,. as proven in the delicious sausage roll, not necessarily mutually exclusive), quiches that are creamy and fragrant, Portuguese egg tarts which are strangely light and sweet at the same time. There is the Ohaina, a classic chocolate cake with a little something extra as well as little fruit tarts, granola bars, toasts of all kinds, and excellent turnovers.

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Bake House tries to stay true to its neighborhood cafe philosophy while sticking to its environmentally friendly initiatives.

Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.
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The sourdough has a legacy of its own.

Photo by Shangri-La at the Fort.

Sourdough isn’t something you’d find in a standard coffee house in this country, but it speaks of a long heritage. According to chief pâtissier Anthony Collar, the sourdough at Bake House is registered and stored in the Sourdough Library in Sankt Vith, Belgium. It started 80 years ago and was handed down to him by his mentor.

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Bake House came to fruition after two careful years of research and contemplation. It had a lofty goal of becoming an environmentally friendly café that somehow also wanted to merge European culinary sensibilities with the Filipino palate. It’s only been two months, but it’s not premature to say mission accomplished.

Bake House is at Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street, Taguig; (02) 820-0888.

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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