Camden: a hipster cafe and a secret bar
Camden fits the typical description of a hipster space – industrial interiors with predominantly neutral palettes, a single communal table and a neon signage right inside the cafe. To top it all off, they play a mildly addictive playlist on loop, the songs of which I guess were taken from those indie-label bands who are too cool to be mainstream.
This cafe is located on a dead-end street at the back of a ten-floor hospital in Cebu. A few doors away from it is a fertility clinic. But despite its relative seclusion, word still got around that’s why many continue to flock to this place.
I did not return however to Camden for its Instagram-worthy spaces or the neon sign or the music. The reason is actually borne out of jealousy as my friends have been raving about their all-day brunch meals. One in particular talked about their omelettes and their fluffy pancakes that have real bits of banana.
I remember that during my first time here, I had the Romeo and Juliet, a dessert consisting of a sweet brownie tempered by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup. This was not bad actually but after my friends’ feedback, I felt that I should have ordered one of their breakfast options that time.
A proper omelette
So one lazy Sunday afternoon, I paid Camden another visit. I would have wanted to try their meat and egg platters, but since they have all been wiped out that morning, I settled instead for a Monterey Omelette, the fold of which nestled bacon strips and Monterey Jack cheese.
This came with baked potatoes, a flimsy slice of orange and a single toast that begged for a smear of butter and jam. Just like the latte that I also ordered, all these were served on a white with blue rim enamelware.
The omelette honestly looked like something that you can cook at home. But I can tell you that this one’s a deceptive fellow that’s hard to execute. This omelette in particular was not soggy and not overcooked as well. It is a proper omelette and if only there were baked beans and a sausage that time, then this dish could be a homerun English breakfast.
But I feel that Camden can be more than just cheesy omelettes. I hope that the owners would consider expanding the menu then, maybe add a pudding or a meat pie or a mean chicken tikka masala in the mix (and name each after a place in the UK). These I think would provide guests with more options, especially those who may find eating pancakes at 5:00 PM a bit weird.
A secret bar
When I was about to leave Camden, I was curious what the 2F looked like. One of their staffs told me that it’s actually a bar. (Like most speakeasy bars elsewhere, if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t have known.) They open by 6 PM but he was kind enough to allow me a quick look.
The second floor still carried the cafe’s industrial aesthetics. On my left is a small bar and at the opposite bigger end had a striking yet foreboding neon sign that says ‘karma, karma, karma.’ Its pinkish glow added a surprising warmth to the otherwise sparsely lit space.
“I’ll return after I have my haircut,” I said.
I thought that I could invite a few friends over for a quick drink. But most of them are preoccupied that time. I perfectly understood because who goes to a bar on a Sunday evening anyway? No one.
So I found myself back in Camden, my second time in one day. The barista said that they are usually packed on other days of the week, Fridays and Saturdays especially. But that Sunday evening, I had the entire karma lounge to myself.
I begrudgingly took out my laptop and started typing this review while enjoying a few sips of my Long Island in between.
That was when I realized that maybe there’s a hidden hipster in me all along. What’s hipster anyway? Is it bad or good? Or is it yet another label bestowed by one generation to the other? I looked up at the signage and unfortunately, even Boy George’s wise words didn’t have the answers.
Since I had my cocktail during the happy hour, I still have a free refill. But I felt that I’ve had enough of Camden for a day. I could actually stay for a couple more hours, if only to wrap up this blog post.
But somehow I felt that I don’t want to overstay my welcome here. I saved the draft, closed my laptop and then headed downstairs.
Unit 3 Apartments Rosal, Rosal St
Capitol Site, Cebu City
Cafe opens Tuesdays-Sundays | 7:30 AM-10 PM
2F bar Happy Hour | 6-8 PM
Reservations and inquiries: +63 32 888 9176