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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar: Healthy Organic Offerings at Cedarwood

One of the things I love about blogging is meeting new people, and I can't be any happier that I've met wonderful friends along the way through this very hobby. Every year during the holidays, Berylle, Stacy, and I always make sure we get together for a simple reunion. And although we didn't really get to hold it during December, it's nice that our plans still pushed through despite being moved past the new year.

Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar

Since we're all foodies, we normally choose a restaurant we've always wanted to try. But because we met up post-holidays (hello post-holiday weight gain), and truth be told we're not getting any younger, we thought we'd go for something healthier for a change. So one Saturday afternoon, we all decided to meet up at Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar in Cedarwood Garden Center, along Mother Ignacia in Quezon City.

Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar Quezon City

There was a private event, a calligraphy workshop, held by Alessandra Lanot of Life After Breakfast, and owner of Pipino Vegetarian Food when we got to Hillside Cafe. Fortunately, they still accommodated our group of five. Whew!

Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar's menu looks promising from the get-go, with dishes made from organic ingredients, creative item names, and descriptions that sound really interesting.

Spinach and Kale Salad (P215)
Spinach and Kale Salad (P215)

To start off our lunch, we decided to get a salad to share first. We weren't sure if there was really kale in this, but we could be wrong. It might have a different kale variety. Anyhow, the salad was dressed in light balsamic vinaigrette and tossed with walnuts and cranberries.

Falafel Soft Tacos (P215)
Falafel Soft Tacos (P215)

We also had to try their falafel soft tacos, since all of us are fans of these Middle Eastern chickpea balls. Served with cilantro brown rice, black beans and salsa, we all found it a shame that Hillside's version didn't live up to our expectation. The chickpea balls had little texture, and we all wanted even a tinny-tiny grit in our falafel.

Greek Mac and Cheese (P275)
Greek Mac and Cheese (P275)

One of the things that we found interesting off Hillside's menu is their rendition of mac and cheese. Unlike the traditional one, theirs didn't use cheddar nor parmesan. Instead, they had their macaroni mixed in milk, vegetable stock and feta cheese with garlic, organic spinach and roasted pine nuts. It's tasty, creamy and a little more guilt-free than what we're used to.

Vegan Pasta Alfredo (P385)
Vegan Pasta Alfredo (P385)

We were also very much intrigued with their vegan version of pasta alfredo. Since this is vegan, there's no ounce of milk, cream, cheese nor eggs in this dish. Instead, they used cauliflower to make the sauce. Sadly though, as creative as this seemed, it failed on the taste department. The cauliflower sauce was just too bland. We had to douse it with lots of salt and pepper just to make it edible. The only redeeming factor were the roasted zucchini slices.

Corned Grass-Fed Beef Short Ribs (P465)
✓ Corned Grass-Fed Beef Short Ribs (P465)

Fortunately, the mains were a different story. All of us found their beef short ribs bomb! Soft, juicy, sweet and savory, this braised corned beef served with buttered carrots and asparagus had us going in for seconds and thirds. Oh, and the creamy polenta underneath is simply addicting! It's actually my first taste at polenta, and I think I'll have to order it more often. Maybe eventually I can try and make some myself at home.

Pesto-Crusted Chicken Parmigiana (P435)
✓ Pesto-Crusted Chicken Parmigiana (P435)

Our unanimous favorite during lunch was this chicken parmigiana crusted with pesto. Served atop a set of zucchini spaghetti aglio olio with a cassoulet of chickpeas, edamame and sweet corn then finished off with melted cheese and sweet potato chips -- the whole dish is just a combination of all the good things we could want and more! Seriously, if we ever go visit Hillside, I'd definitely order this dish for myself. Yup, just for myself! σ(゚ー^*)

Banana Almond Blast Superfood Smoothie (P185)
Banana Almond Blast Superfood Smoothie (P185)
Banana, almond milk, almond butter, hemp protein, chia seeds, maca, flax meal, honey
Clean and Green, Beet It and Citrus Crush (P155 per bottle)
Cold-Pressed Juices (P155 per bottle)
Clean & Green: kale + pineapple + cucumber+ celery + ginger
Beet It: beets + carrot + orange + turmeric
Citrus Crush: orange + lime + lemon

We decided not to go for dessert this time, since hey, we're trying to eat healthy! It would be counter-intuitive if we did. Instead, we went ahead and tried a few of their healthy drinks since it's one of Hillside Cafe's specialties, being a juice bar after all.

THE VERDICT

Over the years, I found myself enjoying restaurants that offer healthier versions of well-loved dishes. And Hillside Cafe is not an exception, as it utilizes organic ingredients, and creativity to make healthier dishes more interesting. However, one thing I'm not sold about Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar is the inconsistency with seasoning. A few, but one in particular, was way under-seasoned. But in the end, I'll still give Hillside another try and see if their other dishes are as good as their good stuff.

Taste 3/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3/5
Overall Value - 3.5/5


Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar, Cedarwood Garden Center
57 Mother Ignacia Ave., Diliman,
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 374-1117
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