Everyone in my family has his own preference when it comes to cafes. Sam adores Starbucks, I like Figaro, Speedy is a Kopi Roti fan while Alex thinks that Dome Cafe serves the best cappuccino next to Vieux Chalet. We all agree on three things though—Seattle’s Best is an okay choice (when nothing else is available) while Mocha Blends and Gloria Jean’s suck.
For the girls and I, the cakes and pastries that go with our coffee is a major factor. That’s why it isn’t hard to convince Alex nor I to go along with Sam when she’s having one of her craving-for-Starbucks days. Starbucks serve the best cakes among the cafes we’ve tried (not counting Bizu Patisserie, of course, because it isn’t a cafe-cafe). I don’t consider Starbucks coffee to be the finest though. Next to Starbucks’ cakes, I like Cafe Bola’s cheesecake made from local kesong puti. But if I could really have my way, I wish I could enjoy Figaro coffee and Starbucks’ cakes together. Yeah, right, wishful thinking.
Because Starbucks has the most number of branches in Metro Manila, when we want coffee and cakes, we almost always land in a Starbucks branch. But the day we watched Spider-Man 3 at Shangri-La Plaza, we went to Dome Cafe. I hadn’t tried Dome Cafe before; it was Alex and Speedy who had gone there before and Alex couldn’t stop talking about the cappuccino.
So, it was cappuccino for Alex, Speedy and myself. Sam had an Oreo Cookie Smoothie. The cappuccino was good, better than Starbuck’s, but Vieux Chalet’s is still the best for me.
I had a slice of rum cake with my cappuccino. Okay, I have to be specific about this. With a well-made rum cake, the rum is uniformly distributed so that a single slice becomes so heavy after the cake has soaked in all the rum it could manage to absorb. Dome Cafe’s rum cake was dry in places. I could actually distinguish the spots that were wet with rum from the dry spots. And the spots without rum were really quite dry.
Speedy had a slice of carrot cake. As is usual with us, we shared our cakes with one another so that everyone got to try all. Was the carrot cake any good? Yeah, if one hadn’t tried better carrot cakes. I like texture in my carrot cake—meaning, lots of chunky walnuts and crushed pineapple. Dome Cafe’s carrot cake had too much bread and the nuts were too finely chopped—and too few—for my taste. Sobrang tinipid.
Alex’s New York-style cheesecake was the best among the three cakes we ordered. I have no complaints about it.
Sam’s chunky chocolate cookie was large and there were chunks of chocolate. Beyond that, it was just a cookie. I could make better ones.
PhP 912.00 pesos for all of that is expensive considering that the desserts weren’t really that good. But then I consider how comfortably we were seated and I could forgive the price.
Unlike Starbucks—and this is really the thing I hate about Starbucks—there were no large crowds at Dome Cafe. I really hate it when we enter Starbucks and all the tables are occupied by people who take three hours to drink a cup of coffee. In short, the tambay crowd. The just-to-be-seen-at-Starbucks crowd. At Dome Cafe, we drank our coffee and ate our cakes leisurely, in peace and quiet, while leafing through a good selection of magazines from the rack.
The staff was courteous and didn’t speak with the faked twang so distinctive among members of Starbucks’ crews. Our orders were taken cordially without the lilting tones used by Starbucks people to feign a mixture of pleasure and light-heartedness. No trying-hard atmosphere at Dome Cafe, in other words, and I liked that.