For Filipino casual dining, you can’t go wrong with Via Mare
Cafe Via Mare is a Filipino restaurant that’s been thriving in the Philippines since the 80s. Operated by Glenda Barretto, the well regarded restaurateur who started Via Mare as a seafood specialty restaurant in the 70s, Via Mare expanded to a chain of coffeeshops to satisfy casual diners who want a more relaxed atmosphere to enjoy Filipino food.
It is a personal favorite because it hardly disappoints. I’ve dined in the Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt 3, Landmark Makati and Shangri-La Plaza mall outlets and often come away satisfied by the food selection and quality, warm service and reasonable prices.
Our party of four visited the Shangri-La Plaza branch.
1. Pako salad (Featured Image) – winner! This was the first time I noticed pako (fiddlehead fern) salad listed on the menu. Years ago, I enjoyed a lovely pako salad with kesong puti in a quaint Pagsanjan restaurant and wanted to repeat the experience. Via Mare’s version — just as memorable — had shrimp, chopped tomatoes, red bell pepper strips and salted eggs. The fiddlehead ferns were deep green, crisp and delightful.
2. Baked oysters – impressively presented on a bed of salt: 8 oysters on half shells baked with 3-cheese sauce. It is easy to see why Via Mare is famous for its delicious, consistently fresh oysters. I believe their oysters are shipped daily from Roxas City, also know as the seafood capital of the Philippines.
3. Molo soup – steaming hot and hearty soup of meat dumplings with shrimp. It was a tad salty for my taste though.
4. Beef kaldereta – tender beef cubes in rich tomato sauce with olives. Delicious, like always.
5. Bam-i guisado – We were celebrating a birthday so we had to have noodles for long life. Noodles were flavorful and loaded with chicken, shrimp and veggies
6. Crab omelet – fluffy flaked crab omelet was served with fried vegetable lumpia (egg rolls filled with sauteed beansprouts and greens) with vinegar dip. Simple and good.
7. Shooters trio – halo halo, mais con hielo and guinumis – a trio of cold and sweet refreshments in shotglasses. Perfect serving size for a light dessert for 3 people, great value too! We ordered an extra guinumis because there were four of us
8. Bibingka – a native rice cake, heavenly with its slices of toasted quezo de bola (edam cheese) on top and grated coconut, this is another must-order specialty of Via Mare. They also offer bibingka with salted eggs instead of quezo de bola.
We ordered more than enough but finished everything! Food bill came to a little over P500 each for 4.
Over-all, another wonderful dining experience.
If the waiters did not take too long to serve the pako salad and the bibingka (I think the waiters are new — looked like they forgot our salad and bibingka orders until we followed up), I’d even say that our visit was perfect.
We know we’ll be back, again and again.
VIA MARE – SHANGRI-LA PLAZA
Cafe & Oyster Bar Express
Ground Floor, Shangri-La Plaza Mall,
Mandaluyong City, Philippines
Tel. No. 631-1613; 631-1933
Monday – Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm Saturday 10:00am – 10:00pm Sunday 10:00am – 9:00pm
(2nd floor available for private functions)
Other Locations: The Landmark @ Trinoma | Eastwood Mall | Rockwell | Greenbelt 3 | Greenbelt 1 | The Landmark – Makati | Greenhills Promenade | UP Diliman Campus – GT Toyota Center | Tomas Morato | Panay Avenue | St. Luke’s Global |Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) |
Images courtesy of Via Mare