Monday, February 3, 2014

Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe in Katipunan Ave., White Plains QC

Harina Artisan Bakery Café: A Fitting Name for a Place That Does Wonders with Flour


The first thing you’ll notice as you step through the bright red doors of Harina Artisan Bakery Café is the impressive display of baked goods. It is, after all, what they’re known for. Monsee’s opened along White Plains in the latter part of 2010 and has established itself as a purveyor of top quality bread products. Their breadsticks and Spanish bread are just two of the items that put them on the map.

Harina Artisan Bakery Café
Located in 118 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains

The people behind Monsee’s have decided to focus on the institutional business side of things which is why they have renamed the establishment as Harina. They offer an all-day breakfast fare as well as pasta and various rice meals; but of course the star of the show is the bread. There’s a good reason why they’re known for it. All their breads are hand-made, which is why you might notice that a lot of their products are not evenly cut. Everything is kept in the store for only a short amount of time as they want to make sure that their customers get nothing but freshly baked goods. Their famous Breadsticks (P100-P120) come in different flavors: Onion & Sour Cream, Bacon & Cheese, Almond, Garlic, Milk & Butter, Parmesan, and Plain Cheese. The sticks of bread are satisfyingly crunchy and are not overpowered by the different flavors. You can eat them plain or dip them in chocolate or mornay sauce for added flavor.
Harina has flaky pastry down pat. Several of their menu items feature this perfectly light and crispy concoction and they have managed to put it to good use. An excellent example is their Breakfast Tart (P290): a rectangular puff pastry shell is generously slathered with cream cheese, topped with two sunny side up eggs, spinach, baked tomatoes, and bacon. It sounds good but it tastes even better. The baked tomatoes are sweet and juicy; the egg yolks are creamy; the cream cheese is thick and rich; the spinach makes you feel less guilty because you’re eating veggies; and the bacon is bacon, you can never really go wrong with it. Other dishes that highlight the flaky pastry is their Quiche Lorraine (P290) and a twist to both the chicken sandwich and Waldorf salad, the Waldorf Salad Sandwich (P220).
Breakfast Tart
Quiche Lorraine
Waldorf Salad Sandwich
Harina’s Bloomin’ Bread (P320) is a testament to how good they are with bread. This Italian-inspired dish is basically a round loaf of crusty, pull-apart bread that is nice and soft on the inside. It’s filled with basil puree and melted cheese and it is topped with either ground sausage or pimiento. It comes with a delicious balsamic vinegar dip.
Harina’s Bloomin’ Bread
We were told that Harina was supposed to serve nothing but breakfast fare. However, when the loyal Monsee’s patrons heard about this, they clamored for their favorite pasta dishes, which is why they were kept on the menu. I really liked their Spanish Chorizo & Peppers (P250). Originally, it’s supposed to be served with linguini but when I was there it was penne pasta. I like how the Spanish chorizo is a little spicy and the peppers a little sweet which gives it a nice balance. It is served, of course, with some good garlic bread.
Spanish Chorizo & Peppers
Harina is not just about the savory. Their PBB Chocolate Stuffed French Toast (P290) is what sweet dreams are made of. Wheat honey walnut French toast is stuffed with sliced bananas, choco-hazelnut spread, and creamy peanut butter. Peanut butter and bananas is always a winning combination but adding hazelnut spread to it is just pure, sweet indulgence. And since we’re talking about indulgence, I should tell you that they also have a Strawberry Cheesecake-Stuffed French Toast (P290).
PBB Chocolate Stuffed French Toast
Strawberry Cheesecake-Stuffed French Toast
There are plenty of bakeries all over the metro. What sets Harina apart is their belief that baking should still be done the traditional way doing away with chemical additives and not taking any shortcuts. Their breads are not mass-produced, all of them are hand-rolled and baked in small batches. Their baking area is actually open and they let customers see how some of their products are made. Every single item that you find inside their store is a true labor of love which is why they have a lot of dedicated customers. The name Harina is apt because what they do with flour over there is absolutely wonderful.

Photos by Albert Peradilla. Additional images courtesy of Harina Artisan Bakery Café

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