Monday, May 6, 2013

Maple Pancake House


Happily Ever After at Maple

by Marian Joy Hernandez
 As a firm believer that breakfast food will save the world, my fairy tale dream would consist of stacks of soft, buttermilk pancakes, delicately crisp waffles, slabs of bacon, thick French toast slices, and golden pools of maple syrup—available all-day in hefty servings.
 
Discover happily ever after at Maple
 
Then, I discovered Maple at the newly built East Wing of Shangri-La Mall, to my heart’s delight—someone had my fairy tale dream in mind and turned it into reality. Maple is part of Pancake House Group, and is often referred to as a more upscale Pancake House. A concept further developed by International Business Development Consultant, Dwight Ashton, the restaurant evokes a fairytale vibe, complete with storybook writings on the wall, plush couches, knobby wooden chairs, exquisitely-cut place mats, and a wall décor depicting a maple tree silhouette.
Inside the restaurant
This particular Maple branch has a small corner set up for kids—a comfy nook that has books perched on wooden maple tree shelves, toys, coloring materials, a table, and a couple of kiddie-sized chairs.  As if on cue, a lady customer walks in the restaurant, with her young daughter in tow. The child sees the display, and her eyes widen in awe, “Wooooow!” she exclaims, as she runs towards her little corner of happiness. The child gets busy, while the mom sinks in one of the couches in peace. A fantastic idea, indeed.
Kiddie corner with a nostalgic favorite: Little Golden Books
Aside from the interiors, Maple has a dreamy-looking menu that is laid out like a storybook, with a short story of the origin of maple syrup. Separated by chapters and headlined with titles such as, “Hunger Awakens” for appetizers and “Fairy Tale Endings” for desserts, it is a delight to discover the littlest details that Maple incorporated to create the full effect of a magical place within its four walls.
Every meal at Maple starts with this complimentary roll—a piece of white bread glazed with maple syrup, and served with whipped butter. I think it’s a great way to introduce the taste of maple syrup, providing just a hint of it on the roll’s crust.
Sticky Roll with whipped butter
Our first dish isn’t necessarily a salad, but it could pass as one. Called the Huevos Rancheros (P340), it is a classic Mexican breakfast that is a combination of tortillas, refried beans, grilled chicken and a sunny side-up egg, all topped with cheese and ranchero sauce.
Huevos Rancheros
One serving can be shared, especially if you’re planning to gorge on some pancakes later on.
A surprising find in Maple are these Fish Tacos (P450).
Fish Tacos
 
By this time, I’ve figured out that the place provides hefty servings, making their price points pretty reasonable. There were three wheat tortillas, five blackened white fish fillets, a mound of napa cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, queso fresco and a chipotle aioli on this dish. Three people may be needed to finish everything. Or, one really hungry dude.
I’m a fan of chili con carne, and Maple’s version is simply a must-try. Their Chili (P250) is a delightful combination of red beans, beef and pork sausage, served with sour cream, scallions and a slice of freshly-baked jalapeño corn bread. What it lacked in the spiciness level, it made up for in flavor.
Chili
Take a bite of the corn bread with every spoonful of chili to experience a medley of flavors—the sweetness of the corn, the saltiness of the chili and the mild hotness of the jalapeño.
I wash everything with a tall glass of Maple Iced Tea (P105), which is perfectly brewed, delicately sweetened and spiced up with fresh orange slices.
Maple Iced Tea
It’s a curious thing to have Mexican dishes in a breakfast place, I thought. And this is when our host, Dwight, tells me that Maple is actually not just a breakfast place. It serves all-day breakfast, along with comfort food—or, soul food. Basically, stuff that will make you feel home. Comfort food or breakfast food—I have no qualms with that; it sounds like the perfect menu already.
Now, on to more traditional breakfast fare:
I tingle at the sight of the Prime Rib Tapa (P520), a perfectly marinated rib nestled atop a bed of garlic fried rice, canoodling with two sunny side-up eggs (or, tell them how you want yours done). The dish glistens, as if to beckon. The beef is pinkish on the inside, its intoxicating taste tempered with vinegar,  tomato-onion salsa or atchara. I prefer the vinegar and douse the tender pieces of meat with it. Simple, sublime and hearty—just the way a good old breakfast meal should be.
Prime Rib Tapa
 
Beef slices: lean and pink
Finally, the time has come to indulge in what Maple is famous for: pancakes and maple syrup. We get the Banana Pecan Pancakes (P335), which are a 3-piece stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with caramelized then flambéed bananas and maple-glazed pecans. You can opt for a giant waffle, if you’re hankering for some crunchiness. I only managed to eat a third of the giant stack, which may well satisfy the sweet tooth of a party of two or three. I brought the leftover pancakes home, put them in the fridge, and then reheated them in the microwave oven for a few minutes the next morning. The result is impressive: soft, moist and creamy buttermilk pancakes, even the day after!
Banana Pecan Pancakes
 
We just had to sample the Stuffed French Toast (P350), which is a whopping two-inch thick layer of creamy, eggy bread. It is stuffed with cream cheese and blueberry compote, with a dollop of whipped butter on top and powdered sugar dusted all over it. Slice it in half and the filling oozes out, a real treat for those who want their food photogenic.
Stuffed French Toast
 
Real maple syrup is served here at Maple, which is amazing, because it is actually more difficult to procure, and pricier than fast food pancake/waffle syrup. Genuine maple syrup comes from the xylem sap of maple trees; it is graded based on density and translucency. At Maple, maple syrup has a smooth and silky texture, with a distinctive flavor that has hints of caramel and toffee.
Maple syrup bottles
We cap our meal with coffee: Cappuccino (P120) for me, and Café Mocha (P120) for my companion.
Cappuccino
 
Café Mocha
Delicious and worthy to be paired with their delectable pancakes and French toast, Maple’s coffee is robust, but not overwhelming to the palate. It is a nice end to a tasty, filling meal. The small cookie lends a nice touch, too.
Attention to detail—that is Maple’s biggest strength. While most fairy tales remain in dreams and storybooks, it is their dedication to translate the magical to the actual, which makes a trip to Maple a story you can actually tell. And, it is one that will most likely end with happily ever after.
Establishment Info
Maple
Cuisine
American/ Filipino
Specialties
Maple features breakfast items such as the gourmet Prime Rib Tapa and the Philippines best Pancakes, lunch favorites such as the MAPLE Burger and low calorie Fish Tacos, and delectable entries including Drippin' Baby Back Ribs and the hand crafted Spaetzle Jambalaya. With Maple's debut location in Makati already treating guests to its unique blend of casual and modern food fare, more diners can expect to be pleasantly surprised by our Shangri-La Plaza and Alabang locations opening in early 2013.
Budget
P500 - P999

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