French Baker

Dining a la Brasserie at the Skywalk
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

A spanking hub awaits shoppers, businessmen and students who want to meet, dine, or quietly work on their electronic gadgets at the newly-opened French Baker – Skywalk.
One of the French Baker “La Brasserie” concept stores, the Skywalk outlet brings in an array of delightful and sumptuous menus and entrees from soups, salads, pasta dishes to desserts in addition to its freshly-baked and delicious breads for a whole new dining experience.
“We used to be just frequented by mothers, shoppers and workers from office buildings back when there were no cellular phones, no parking and toilet fees. With the onset of the Wi-Fi connection, the mall landscape has totally changed,” shared founder and CEO Johnlu Koa, who was recently honored by the Philippine Retailers Association as the Most Outstanding Filipino Retailer Award in the Medium Food category.
Koa brought in a new inspiration and transformed his stores from a Filipino adaptation of a French boulangerie into a place reminiscent of the classic Parisian brasserie where he combines good bread, great food, and an upbeat French ambiance. The La Brasserie concept translates his personal experiences of French cafes and brasseries by transporting their customers and loyal patrons vicariously to “Paris,” while reflecting the changing lifestyle, demands and aspirations of the market.
Completing the French ambiance are the viennoiseries that never fail to capture the distinctive Parisian taste and quality. These mall-based concept stores offer a new kind of dining experience in comfortably spacious areas decked with classy interiors, complete with free Wi-Fi connection and charging outlets.
“A buffet spread takes so much space in a mall outlet. What I have, playing on my mind is a weekend carvery with ham, roast beef and turkey with cranberry sauce on Sundays served with two potato dishes, salad and soup. And then, we'll be serving usso buko, souffle and fillet steaks done medium well and bring their prices down,” shared the savvy entrepreneur on his next immediate plans.
During the media launch, we sampled most of the dishes found in their new expanded menu. As a seafood lover, I went for the fish first and got one with a unique name: Fish a la Meunier, a hearty fish treat rubbed with spices and griddled to perfection, then wrapped in a chive-infused white sauce veloute. This dish, whose name originally means “cooked in the style of the miller's wife, was paired with French green beans and boiled potatoes and served with baguette slices.
Palates who go for pasta with a zing must try the Spicy Seafood Pasta; the red-tomato sauce gets zesty with a shot of hot pepper and spices, perfectly complementing the deep-sea flair and flavor of tuna, shrimp, squid and mussels.
For those who love pasta but sans the zing, go for the Chicken Parmigiana Fettucini, a flat noodle dish mixed with fresh tomato-herb sauce, a generous dollop of rich cheese and a breaded chicken cutlet served atop a pesto garlic stick and lemon wedges.
Game for fowl? Sample their Chicken Cordon Bleu, a roulade of chicken layered with ham and cheese, rolled in seasoned sourdough bread crumbs and deep-fried, served with rice or rolls.
Red meat lovers should relish their Beef Burgundy, a home-style brew of beef in rich red wine, topped with carrots, olives and mushrooms. Pork Chop au Poivre, on the other hand, puts every craving to a full stop with two shanks marinated in herbs and grilled to brown peppercorn sauce and served with pan-roasted veggies.
Give in to your cravings of something light and filling with their version of the clubhouse sandwich, a delicious trio of ham, chicken, and bacon layered with cheese on white bread served with a light salad of fresh greens and crisp potato chips. Or, if you're the type who wants your bread crunchy, then I suggest you go for the Chicken Salad croissant, with creamy and chunky chicken morsels in dressing with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes tucked into an airy, buttery croissant and garnished with savory potato crisps.
Make sure you leave room for dessert. For the sweet tooth who's likewise counting the calories, I recommend the Banana Crème Caramel Crepe, an absolutely different yet delicious twist on the combination of firm slices of ripe banana in a thick caramel sauce, folded into a made-to-order wafer-thin French crepe and topped with a generous scoop of ice cream.
Or, for something a little more sinful, opt for the Mango Crepe a la mode, the ultimate summery dessert in a paper-thin crepe stuffed with ripe mango cubes, then served with a cool scoop of ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of mango syrup. Yummy!
And finally, quench your thirst and chase the summer heat away with their Freeze concoctions, frosty-cold smoothies in mango, pandan and coffee flavors. Simply delish!
“Even dietary patterns have changed. That's why we now serve veggie sandwiches, bread products as soup bowls, and cakes sliced individually and wrapped in container boxes. Times have changed so we move with the times,” Koa intoned.
With Koa's passion for the bread business, the French Baker continues to explore ideas and innovative products to complement the Filipino's love for celebration, new flavors and world-class quality. “Whether it's a 15-minute coffee break, a half-hour meeting, or an hour's lunch, the French Baker believes that not only will its customers find a relaxing and unique dining experience but also time well spent at our stores,” Koa enthused.
Twenty-one years into the business, Koa has successfully captured the consumers' love for new dining experiences and kept pace with the ever-changing mall environment. Now with 40 stores all-over Luzon and two in Metro Cebu, the company has become a favorite destination for specialty dishes and healthily-baked goodies.
Located between the beautifully-refurbished Ali Mall and SM department store at the Araneta Center, the Skywalk is the newest place to unwind with kith & kin as well as colleagues, any day of the week.

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