Whenever we go home to Tarlac City for a vacation or a quick weekend, I always make it appoint to look for a new place to try. You see, my humble birth place hasn’t coped up with the foodie scene until around last year. People have been happy and satisfied with the local restaurants offering mostly Chinese or Filipino food. It’s such a great news that cafes have been sprouting like mushrooms here and there and the Tarlaquenos have welcomed other cuisines like Korean and Mexican.
I've visited a handful of cafes in Tarlac City but I haven’t really encountered one that offers GREAT coffee. Most try their best but still fall short when your standards are high up like Toby's Estate or a local one like Yardstick. I can’t really recommend a place in Tarlac City for a good cup that would satisfy someone from the Metro.
Enter Jack Meets Kaldi…
|Jack Meets Kaldi Specialty Coffee - Tarlac City|
My brother told me about this place and teased me with pictures of the food. I scheduled my visit right away when we got the chance to go on a vacation in Tarlac. With two of my siblings in tow, we headed to Jack Meets Kaldi for dinner.
|The owner must love The Beattles so much!|
The place had this Metro Manila café charm that I loved. They used wood heavily but played with textures and brown hues. To break the monotony of the warm wood color, they splashed some walls with white paint, added some industrial drop lamps, black and white pictures in frames and a bookshelf tucked under the stairs that led to the second floor. The place was warmly lit and the smell of freshly baked bread served as an accent.
|Freshly baked bread, latte art designs as their glass wall accent and more The Beattles pictures!|
Promising only the best specialty coffee in the province with gourmet food to boot, we checked their menu. I had high hopes and their pricing was the first thing that got me. Most cafes in the area would have meals and pasta dishes not exceeding 150Php per order, at least majority of what they offer that is. But Jack Meets Kaldi’s menu was extensive and proud.
|Hors de Vous|
Their pricing would in fact level up to expensive cafes in the Metro – mains ranging from 400-700Php, pasta from 180-350Php, pizza from 200-500Php, salad from 220-350Php, ect. etc.
We gave the following a try ---
|Truffle Fries for 115Php|
Thick cut and skin-on, these were smothered with cheese, garlic and a good amount of truffle oil. They came in a little soggy though, like poutine. Nonetheless, these were good.
|Jack’s Style Carbonara for 325Php|
Al dente pasta in a thick and creamy white sauce with mushrooms, generous serving of shrimps, pancetta and topped with a crisp bacon strip. The serving size was enough for one person. You would think that the serving was too little for 325Php but they didn’t scrimp on the good stuff so that makes up for it.
|A look at the entire serving|
This was delicious! Just the right saltiness with a good flavor, it’s very easy to finish the whole plate! This was also served with two slices of garlic bread – crisp but soft bread with good butter and garlic flavor.
|Jack’s Street Burger for 305Php|
They make their own bun and even their own burger patty. I asked for a medium well done-ness. The burger had some crisp lettuce in it, tomato slices, pickles and barbecue sauce. There was also a side serving of a simple salad and skin-on potato wedges. The burger had a good form, great flavor from the all beef patty but it was a little tough for a medium well. It wasn’t that juicy anymore and I’m not sure what went wrong - maybe it was over done. Sayang!
|JMK Alla Piemontese Pizza for 290Php|
I chose a simple pizza with veggies in it and truffle oil. This had fresh tomato pulp sauce, fresh Italian pizza cheese, mushrooms, parsley, oregano and drops of truffle oil. It smelled good when served but it kinda lacked something in it. I asked for additional cheese and they agreed with no hesitations. I added around 50Php for it. I also asked if they have anchovies and they said they did so I also asked them to add that.
|Fresh out of the oven with additional cheese and toppings|
The pizza was sent back to the kitchen and came out after a few minutes. I tried it and was so surprised that they used the local brown alamang to mean anchovies! OMG! I don't think they knew what I meant when I said anchovies! There was a good amount of truffle oil in it though, plus the additional cheese and the additional time inside the oven made it better.
|Blueberry Cheesecake for 160Php/slice|
For dessert, we got the Blueberry Cheesecake. Baked cheesecake topped with a thick blueberry sauce with some blueberry preserves and a dollop of blueberry jello like custard.
|A closer look at this sinful dessert!|
The cheesecake was good! Creamy and smooth, not too sweet and it went well with the blueberry sauce topping.
Onto the drinks, we tried the following --
|Oreolicious for 140Php|
Non-coffee based drink, ice blended with cream, Oreos and caramel. Sweet and pretty good.
|Mocha for 150Php|
I tried one of their specialty coffee - Mocha. I am a fan of Toby's Estate when it comes to Mocha and it's my default drink for comparison. I am happy to report that Jack Meets Kaldi's version did not disappoint. They're serious with their coffee and that's very evident with this cup. The coffee was strong, the chocolate was dark and had bitter notes - definitely not the usual mocha sauce. It wasn't too sweet and I liked it.
|This stunning painting will greet you as soon as you enter Jack Meets Kaldi's second floor!|
Despite the booboos, I still liked our visit here. Customer service was worth commending too since the servers were very attentive. I needed to drag my husband back here when we got the chance to go back to Tarlac about a month after my initial visit. This time we checked out their second floor.
|More lovely interiors at Jack Meet's Kaldi|
Their second floor only serves specialty coffee. You're not allowed to order their iced blended frappes here but you are most welcome to order food from their menu. The second floor was beyond amazing! Long wooden tables, high chairs, everything is wood, lots of coffee gadgets, an al fresco area over looking some lush greenery - so serene, so calm. Gosh, I'm telling you, you have to try this place when you visit Tarlac City!
|Flat White for 140Php|
This time I got myself a cup of their Flat White. I loved the bitterness of the coffee with deep chocolate profile, a hint of sweetness and just the right proportion of milk. I talked to the barista in charge and found out that they get their beans from Dubai and their supplier in turn gets them from Brazil. They're not roasting their own beans yet but they're already heading that way, with a roasting machine coming to their store very soon.
|Barista's work area - clean and neat|
They're passionate about their craft I must say. Their baristas have been trained by masters from Latte Art Philippines and they go through rigorous training and testing before they get fully hired.
|Matcha Mousse Cake for 120Php|
I also got myself a Matcha Mousse Cake. Finally, a true blue Matcha dessert in Tarlac! I am more than happy! The base was matcha cookie topped with a light and fluffy matcha mousse. It wasn't too sweet and had a great matcha flavor - grassy and bitter with just the right amount of cream. Only problem was the lack of contrasting texture. It could have been better with a layer of chiffon, maybe.
|Kaldi's Pork Pao for 270Php|
Hubby also tried their Kaldi's Pork Pao. Three pieces of soft Chinese steamed buns with a good slice of marinated pork belly inside, some cabbage and jalapeno slices. Served with a simple salad, these little buns exploded with meaty goodness!
I can't stress enough how happy and proud I am that my hometown has something like Jack Meets Kaldi. I can confidently recommend this place if ever you are going to visit or pass by Tarlac City, wanting some good food and excellent coffee. It's worth your while, believe me.
4 out of 5 Stars for Jack Meets Kaldi!
--- Jack Meets Kaldi: Ripples Bldg., Unit 2 Cluster 4 Bypass Rd., Talon Citi Plaza, Tarlac City