Reviews

Manila’s Dean & DeLuca is Far From Its NYC Roots

August 12, 2015

The Dean & DeLuca I know is more deli/specialized grocery than it is restaurant. I’ve only stepped in a few, but the appeal of the international chain, at least to me, has always been their goods and sundries. Endless rows of random bottled and pickled things, boxes of mixes that were more than the average powdered pancakes, exotic or at least rare eats to bring home and add to your boring pantry—this was the joy of Dean & DeLuca. It was more of a take-away place for you to get a quick bite or a cup of coffee in between errands, and never really one for you to eat a full meal in or lounge around.

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In this respect, Manila’s Dean & DeLuca fails miserably. Their first branch, suitably parked in the more upscale Rockwell district, has one sad column of goods and has turned itself into a restaurant that seems to have the identity of Wildflour. There are a few wines and vinegars, some random gadgets like bottle openers and whisky rocks, and a small selection of edible goods that I couldn’t imagine even a Makati housewife shelling out for (canned tuna at an abominable price?). There is no deli here, which disappoints me.

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Right: Spaghetti with Bacon, PHP 410.

However, as a restaurant (which we must judge this Dean & DeLuca by as this is what it is, unlike its foreign counterparts), the place is serviceable, if not good. It is Wildflour-lite with a less impressive but almost-as-delicious selection of pastries, and slightly better service (although that is not saying much). And the food, surprisingly, is not bad at all. Before its doors opened, the franchise here was rife with rumors of tiffs and odd stories. There was that one rumor about that baker from NYC’s Bouchon Bakery, then another about licenses, and after that something about other branches opening with entirely different partners. My point here is that Dean & DeLuca had a troublesome start, which had an impact on its early days. Early reviews of this place often began with, “Not good” or, “Overrated,” or simply, “Bad,” with food overpriced and the opposite of delicious. A first visit made me agree regrettably, no matter how much I wanted it to be wrong. Things were expensive and service was horrible. Several signs all over the place were misspelled, coffee was cold, food was meh, and I vowed to never come back. It felt like half a franchise—half a deli, half-trained staff, only half of the food even halfway decent.

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Forced to revisit a month or so later, however, changes were a little noticeable. There were still some sore spots (spaghetti with bacon is an over-creamed excuse for carbonara, sandwiches are no bang for your buck, and generally the service was still all sorts of abysmal) but I was surprised that the food could rival any bistro or café of similar caliber in Manila. Their kouign amman is the best in the city, and a few of their pastries are almost perfect; flaky cheese rolls with a sweet and slightly savory filling, heavier babka rolls surrounded in dark caramel and candied nuts for example. Pizzas are a little pricey, but have great dough that are crisp and soft at the same time, and are not shy with toppings. Their house chicken is juicy, and make for a well-rounded bite with its jus and accompanying barley studded with chorizo. The pork chop is probably the most value for money thing on the menu, and is actually quite delicious, bathed in butter, and always rosy in its center.

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Left: Shrimp and Calamari Pizza, PHP 720. Right: Herb Roasted Chicken Au Jus, PHP 650.

Maybe the deli approach wouldn’t have worked in Manila. After all, who would buy expensive goods when you can get delicious local counterparts? Maybe the owners were right to convert it into a restaurant with dishes and prices geared towards the clientele that frequent the area. In spite of initial bad press, this Dean & DeLuca is slowly making up for its faults with a progressing kitchen. All they need to do now is re-train their staff.

Overall Rating: 6/10

What are your thoughts on Manila’s Dean & DeLuca? Is it just as good as its other branches? Let us know what you think below!

This review was conducted solely by the author, who did not accept any form of cash advertising, invitation, sponsorship or payment. It was paid for by the author or Pepper.ph, and the views represented are purely the writer’s own. It is based on several anonymous visits to the restaurant.

Dean & DeLuca

Address: G/F Edades Tower, Rockwell, Makati

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr. FOLLOW
13 comments in this post SHOW

13 responses to “Manila’s Dean & DeLuca is Far From Its NYC Roots”

  1. Blackwidow says:

    You took the words out of my mouth. The local Dean & DeLuca was a BIG disappointment. Even if like what you observed “changes were noticeable” (the next time around), I will not venture into it again. The Dean & DeLuca I know is a deli, not a restaurant. Enough said.

  2. Katrina says:

    I am now tempted to go just for the Kouign Amann.

  3. Do they have the rainbow cake though?

  4. Ryan Soon says:

    no , this manila branch for me is a total failure. i even hope that they should have not bring the brand here if they cannot replicate the true essence of it. no grocery where i can buy nice candies & chocolates . merchandise item super few only. no deli sections !!!! very disappointing . i miss the large pizza n bread section also . and the coffee OMG!!!! 1 size only n no iced caramel macchiato. so i told the lady assigned at the cashier . honestly this manila branch is super different from the Mahanakhon Branch and other branches so i dont know what to order. and u dont feel comfy coz its like all dinning area upon entering it. i usually go n pick up sandwiches or cakes plus my coffee . super terrible here in manila. my advice is simply fly to Bangkok where i feel at home at Dean & Deluca. wish they never bring the Brand to manila , its super far far from the other branches. pizza here cost 600++ and u have to buy the whole small pizza. im used to the pizza slice where it only cost me THB 99 . for this i would only give a score of 3 out of 10

    • highlysuggestive says:

      Maybe bringing all the grocery items in would be more costly for the franchise owners and will anyway be stuck in the ports of Manila so the alternative was making it into more of a restaurant and people will still flock to the place because of the name.

  5. Melody Buendia says:

    Forever love.

  6. Jai Nadal says:

    Best Kouign Amann… I have to try this then. So far I’ve had the pastry from Cicou, Eric Kayser, The Breadery, and from Gourmet Finds (home baker in Forbes Park). Quite by far, the best among them for me is from Gourmet Finds, and it’s cheaper too (per piece, although she requires you to order at least 4pcs)!

  7. Che Depano McKeon says:

    wildfour: wildly bad service 🙁
    everything extra is a problem!!!

  8. […] version to its origins, and you will hardly ever see a public satisfied with what’s on offer. But Dean and Deluca came with much hype, and much promise. The premise of a deli-cum-grocery with odd and exciting procurements, and a […]

  9. Kalbo says:

    Just another Naysayer tsk tsk.

  10. aegon V says:

    wild flour is over rated

  11. aegon V says:

    wildflour is so overrated

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