Right in the middle of Arnaiz Avenue in San Lorenzo Village sits Croque (pronounded krohk) Café + Bakery. It would have been easy to miss if not for the vibrant yellow and blue palette that stands out amidst the row of commercial and residential buildings along the main road. The European-inspired exterior, reminiscent of most quaint cafés in France, captivates passersby to take a second glance and consider entering the homey interior. The space opens up to a peaceful and spacious hideout, a welcome treasure for those who are searching for privacy in the busy city.
At the helm of Croque are chefs Paco Lao and Alexa Abala, whose pastas, freshly baked breads, and decadent pastries are the inspired cornerstones of the bistro-café. The freshly baked bread, which is the first thing visitors see upon entering, is accompanied by an irresistible aroma, and it’s difficult to leave Croque without buying something.
There are several items on the menu that every first timer at Croque ought to try. The Granny’s Onion Soup, with a twist of bone marrow, is an impressive take on traditional onion soup. It’s topped with Gruyere cheese; one serving isn’t enough of this delightfully sinful starter.
For those who want something more distinctly Filipino, they have a Silog Medley which is a medley of tapa and tocino, fried eggs, and garlic rice. It solves the problem of diners who can’t choose between having a tapsilog or a tocilog – because who says you can’t have both?
Their handmade pastas are also a favorite, and it’s a plus that the servings are big enough to share. A crowd favorite is Croque’s Original Lamb Lasagna, a huge plate of pasta good enough for two topped with an abundance of cheese that doesn’t overpower the distinct taste of the lamb. A must-try, however, is the Sausage Papardelle, topped with a creamy white sauce and Vaudoise Sausage, creating a delicious blend of explosive flavors.
The dessert menu of Croque includes its famous Three-Layered Chocolate Cake, which, taking from its name, is a luscious dark chocolate coated chocolate cake (with yet another layer of chocolate inside!) that hits all the right spots. They also have a Red Velvet Cheese Mousse and Panna Cotta that are both excellent meal-enders. Order a cup of coffee to accompany these desserts, and you’ll be satisfied to the brim!
Whether it be for brunch dates, afternoon hangouts, or late night catch-ups, Croque’s homey and relaxing atmosphere draws people in and keeps them coming back. The place is cozy and comfortable, and though it isn’t like most cafés in the city, it does offer its own unique experience.