Tummy Picks : Arca’s Yard (Baguio City)
When you are in the midst of such beautiful chilly surroundings like Baguio City, there is nothing better than a hot cup of coffee to keep you warm. Although there are plenty of coffee shops in the area, one joint that stood out is Arca’s Yard along Ambuclao Road. Nestled high above the city proper, with the fog endlessly grazing the café, this is truly the perfect spot to sit still, look out into the woods and bask in the old school Baguio vibe.
As I saw the façade, it instantly gave out a homey feel then further taking you into the garden seating with a little fence peppered with padlocks. Upon closer look, it was like the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris that had the padlocks left by lovers from all over the world (already gave out though so… RIP bridge). Of course, the hopeless romantic in me couldn’t ignore this even if it was just an imitation of the romantic gesture done in Paris. And so I bought a padlock from them (Php80), wrote my family members’ names, blew a little kiss and wished for an even greater love bond between us four.
The interiors were rustic yet artsy. It’s like walking into a wooden home with lots of artworks on the walls and a colorful living room area perfect for anyone’s Instagram-worthy moments. The owner is an art collector, an interior designer and an artist herself. She started picking up pieces here and there and originally needed a place to house her collection. What most don’t know is that it started off as a gallery/library that later turned into a bed & breakfast and to this day is now a rustic café. The bed & breakfast is no longer operational but you can still feel the homey vibe and you’ll suddenly get the urge to beg the staff for an imaginary vacant room so that you can spend the night over. I know I did hehe. It is a two-story establishment with the first floor serving as the main entry and then going down to the basement that had a few more seatings, the library area and the woodworks collection from Cordilleran artists.
What’s the focal point of this place? Depends really on the visitor. For art lovers, seat yourself at the indoor and outdoor dining areas on the main floor so that you can be surrounded with such beautiful paintings. For the Instagram-hungry millennial or Gen Z, you can plop yourself down on the colorful pillows of the living room. Those yearning for the old school smell of books and ready to immerse themselves in their own imaginative world, grab a book and sit on the library floor with your legs crossed. But for those wanting to just enjoy their coffee with the beautiful Baguio view or have a romantic date with your loved ones, the balcony is the place to be.
Now that we know the place is worth the drive uphill, let’s dive into their dishes. I was able to try their Pesto Carbonara and Beef Patty dishes (for some reason, maybe because of hunger, I forgot to take photos of these two. So sorry, maybe next time). I’m a big lover of pesto dishes and normally my family doesn’t like this because of the intense spice aftertaste. Arca’s Yard’s Pesto Carbonara (Php220) was subtle in terms of the pesto cream itself, with the carbonara perfectly al dente. The garlic bread that came with it was a crunchy baguette that had a gently soaked center with just the right amount of garlic butter. It was heavenly and surprisingly a big serving that can cater to two.
As for the Beef Patty entrée (Php195), it was served with gravy, rice and veggies. A glorified version of a burgersteak but deliciously crafted with just the right amount of pepper and spices to up its game against regular burgersteak meals.
For dessert, I ordered the Blueberry Cheesecake (Php140), the Carrot Pie Ala Mode (Php95) and the much raved about Sweet Potato Pie (Php95). I don’t know about you but kamote pie doesn’t sound enticing at all. But I’ve been told this is a must and should be ordered along with a refillable cup of Benguet Blend Coffee (Php50).
I’m a very picky eater when it comes to cheesecakes since I simply hate those who have too much gelatin in order to fake their way to one. I am all about cheesecakes that are quite frankly, full of cream cheese (duh). The texture needs to be melt-in-your-mouth, a bit salty and have the precise amount of cinnamon in its crust. Arca’s perfectly hits my cheesecake lovin’ spot. There’s a reason why they specify it in the menu as BAKED blueberry cheesecake so you know for sure it’s not those easy gelatin cheesecakes stored in the fridge overnight and my goodness was it heavenly! The cheesecake is topped with blueberries, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sided with fresh thin slices of apple that when taken together, creates a wonderful push and pull of sweet-sour-salty in one go.
Now, what’s the fuss with their Sweet Potato Pie? I love kamote fries and kamote que but I couldn’t really imagine it in a pie. Like I said earlier, doesn’t seem too appetizing for me, to be honest. But one swift teaspoon of Arca’s pie which was served with vanilla ice cream took me aback. It was reminiscent of pumpkin pies during autumn in the U.S. and believe me, I’ve had my share of pumpkin pies when I was a kid which was always a staple during fall especially on Thanksgiving. It was so common to me that I totally forgot about it when I heard about Arca’s Sweet Potato Pie. It only dawned on me the similarities when I took my first taste of Arca’s version as it rolled on my tongue with its near-smooth texture that wasn’t too sweet at all, combined well with the vanilla ice cream topped with slightly toasted pinipig. The crust was the usual pumpkin pie crust that had cinnamon and nutmeg as dominant spices and was perfectly baked to not fall apart after every slice. It may seem weird at first but those who have had their fair share of pumpkin pies can definitely relate and those who haven’t will surely welcome this unorthodox pinoy version of the dessert because Arca’s did a exemplary job.
The Carrot Pie Ala Mode was also a delectable one. ‘Ala mode’ means it’s topped with vanilla ice cream so you know it’s gonna be good. It had the right amount of carrot shreds that doesn’t overwhelm non-veggie lovers but a bit lacking on the cinnamon although the subtle spice flavor was still there. Often, carrot cakes/pies are lumpy, too heavy and sometimes dries out. Arca’s was dang shockingly moist and I enjoyed it tremendously. The name baffles me though. I don’t think they should call it a pie since there’s no pie crust. It was also missing the cream cheese frosting but I guess that’s asking too much especially that it already has vanilla ice cream and it ain’t a cake to begin with. Overall though, it was delightful and shouldn’t be ignored even if you’re not into veggies.
Activities & Renaissance for Culture & Arts Yard is unquestionably a destination on its own once you’ve set foot in Baguio City. It pleases people from all walks of life whether they are an art lover, museum ogler, ardent bookworm, solitary traveler or simply a sucker for all things romantic and satisfies even the pickiest of tummies.
Final Tummy Verdict: 4.75
’til our next tummy picks… c’est la vie!
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