Nick Hornby’s About a Boy inspired my brother and I to go vegetarian. We loved that book; we took turns reading it. I think he didn’t anticipate getting hooked, so he willingly waited for me to finish a couple of chapters before he’d read.
I don’t remember anymore how long he lasted as a vegetarian, but I think I lasted longer. Well, it was a measly 6 months, and I caved in to a couple sticks of skewered chicken intestines (my favorite kind of street barbecue).
I don’t know if I can ever go vegetarian again, and truly commit to it – I live with someone who smirked at the mere suggestion – but if it were just Aki and I, I think we can go vegetarian twice or three times a week without a problem. For us though, being vegetarian means not eating meat, so we can still have seafood, eggs, cheese, butter and the occasional ice cream.
There are health advantages to going vegetarian, but personally, how it helps discourage unnecessary animal suffering is what really speaks to me. I wish I can go beyond Meatless Monday, but for my family I feel good already about going meatless for more than a day. I also try to look for interesting vegetarian or farm-to-table restaurants for us to try.
Hence our first visit to Corner Tree Café.
Corner Tree Café has been around for a while – you can tell with the less-than-pristine state of the tables and chairs, and some of the yellowy faded notes pinned on their corkboard by the door – but it all adds to its cozy-homey ambience.
We visited a second time recently, and I think it’s great customer service to spot and welcome back a repeat customer, so kudos to their staff, too.
What to expect
The menu is extensive. I believe there is a dish here to please anybody as long as they have an open mind.
On our first visit, I was craving for steamy soup, so I went with the vegetarian sinigang. The broth is thicker than what I am accustomed to, but its sourness is just the way I like it – above average. Don’t look for anything extra special – it’s just sinigang minus the pork but with mustasa instead of kangkong. Nevertheless, for me, it hit the spot.
I ordered the Veg Nut Roast for the husband, and he liked it. It’s a meatless kind of meatloaf. He always appreciates mashed potato that’s been made from scratch, which this dish has on the side, and he’s right, honestly you can taste the difference.
We also love their version of siomai, so we had it again when we came back.
For our second visit, I ordered the Arroz ala Cubana for the husband, I had the spinach and mushroom lasagna and Akira had the broccoli and red rice potpie. Typical of her, she resisted at first, but ended up eating almost all of it.
A funny observation, but every time we eat here I’d eat until I’m full, but after a couple of hours I’d be hungry again. That’s a good thing isn’t it? It’s not the kind of fullness where you feel sick and woozy.
Other things to expect
We haven’t tried their desserts, which should be a good incentive for a third visit. Their vegan/dairy-free ice cream selection sounds yummy.
I wish they had a more extensive coffee selection.
The place is small and can get full fast during peak lunch and dinner hours. Planning to visit at these times could be a bit troublesome without a reservation.
Parking can also be a bit problematic. Parking space is limited and cramped. When there are a lot of customers and traffic along Jupiter Street is at a crawl, it can be a pain to just get out. In fact, that’s what happened to us the first time, so we just decided to have coffee at a nearby Starbucks after our meal to wait it out.
The bathroom is small and not exactly “Chuva-approved” but it is clean and dry, there’s toilet paper and the flush works.
Will we come back?
Yes! If the food is good and service is personalized, you’ve got a keeper.
All the more since my kid felt right at home there, too. I couldn’t take a photo since my husband had to leave us the last time, but they had a Peter Rabbit book in their bookshelf, so we read that book at our table a couple of times (when Aki likes something, expect to hear “more, more!”).
Our last visit was for late lunch, so it’s nice to have the place to yourself after the lunch crowd has left. You can have pleasant small talk with the staff, browse magazines, and let loose with the kid a bit.
In my case, I let her walk around barefoot like the big goof that she is, since we were the only customers left. Then you know it’s time to go when the kid gets restless or you’ve finished your coffee, whichever comes first 🙂