People who know me can attest to my being a closeted country girl – I live for the farm life and the open water, and grew up listening to Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton. Now, if you listen to enough country, you’ll realize that most of these singers have three passions in life: finding true love, family, and food! From Kacey Mustgraves’ “Biscuits” to Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried,” food (and drinks) play heavily into country songs — and with how good Southern cookin’ is, I don’t blame them.
When I walked into Café Creole at Newport Mall, the old Hank William’s song started playing in my head, ticking off the gastonomic delights of this cooking style I had been anticipating to sink my teeth into that evening. “Jambalaya, crawfish pie, fillet gumbo…”
The interior of Café Creole seems to take its inspiration from French Creole architecture, with exposed red bricked walls taken from the Victorian-era shops which are prevalent in New Orleans juxtaposed with the colonial-style wooden panels, painted a robin’s egg blue ,and decorated with black and white pictures of Louisiana culture and famous landmarks. Colorful murals and chalk art are also displayed on the walls, a celebration of everyday life in the city.
The main focus of the place is the restaurant’s beautiful brick oven, decorated in copper and steel, encasing the roaring fire, prominently set up near the kitchen with cooks and the chef occasionally chucking in a skillet of chicken or a freshly made pizza.
The drinks situation at the café is unreal, Harry Potter unreal, with a mug of Butter Beer (₱145) made with a combination of butterscotch sauce and cream soda finished with a lot of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce. This is a lot lighter and fizzier than what I had in mind, but it does a good enough job of washing the food down in the most delightful way, so I’m not complaining.
I, of course, couldn’t get enough of their Frozen Hot Chocolate (₱189), a simple yet satisfying mix of hot chocolate, fresh milk, and a ton of whipped cream. This should seriously be in top 10 listicles for the best chocolate milkshakes, it ticks all right boxes of creamy, chocolate-y, and oh-so-smooth.
Much like the song, Café Creole’s Everglades Jambalaya (₱435) is a skillet-ful of Southern flavor, starting with Creole cooking’s holy trinity of onions, bell peppers, and celery, okra, Andouille sausages, fried calamari, white shrimp, fish fillet, and jambalaya spices. It isn’t as spicy as I’d like it to be, but one could appreciate the spices that coat the meat and vegetables, leaving everything coated in a layer of country cooking.
Showcasing the brick oven, the restaurant serves up some really good pizzas. Earth Bread (₱360) is a best-seller wood fire pizza loaded with wild mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, Mozzarella, Parmesan crisps, and arugula salad. The crust is crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, and the merry harmony of cheese makes for a happy fiesta in one’s mouth. I think I polished off most of this – I can’t get enough of good bread!
Moving on to mains that should probably be shared with a date or small family, their Fish Pontchartrain (₱399) is a winner in my book, whose flavors resemble the deep South. This is a deep-fried battered white cobbler – which give it a crispy golden shell – smothered in Pontchartrain sauce and shrimp étouffée, served with parsley walnut rice with the dark green of crispy spinach. You get a little bit of everything in one mouthful – crunch of the batter hiding the tender fish, the smoky paprika and mild chili from the spices, the creamy étouffée, and that fresh bite of parsley with crispy deep-fried greens.
The Blackened Chicken (₱480) takes a while to cook in the brick oven, but it’s worth the wait. The skillet-roasted half chicken is served with blackened spice, dirty rice, and Southern slaw.
Like it’s sister restaurant, New Orleans, Café Creole doesn’t skimp on dessert. Their Chocolate Mousse Cake (₱195) for example, is a monster slice and boasts of 4-layers of chocolate – the chocolate chiffon base, brownie fudge middle, a thick layer of chocolate mousse, and finally a layer of thick melted chocolate that leaves a thin coat of dark fudge all around.
I like the laid-back vibe and the no fuss food Café Creole offers the public. Stay a while and enjoy a beignet with a flat white while you people watch or bond over pizzas and beers with friends. I’d highly recommend this sophisticated yet inviting restaurant for families, too, as the comforting flavors of Cajun and Creole cooking is something that can be appreciated by family members of all ages.
Café Creole is located on the second floor of Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay and is open from 9am to 12am daily. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 2 403 8926.