Magnum Opus' Gooey Grilled Cheese Is Still Worth the Drive
The coffee shop welcomes 2018 with new dishes and a fresher look.
Magnum Opus Fine Coffees
2/F The Prime Building, 115 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Naming an establishment “Magnum Opus" is a pretty tall order. But if there's one thing this hidden gem is known for, it's how it lives up to its name. After almost five years in the business, Jonathan Choi and his partner Kristine “Kiks” Ongsiyping recently realized that an upgrade to their BF Homes café was overdue.
With their improved menu and a total interior overhaul, Magnum Opus wants to provide a better coffee experience to their customers, old and new. “It’s stuff we like. I like to eat in my shops. I’m not going to put it there with the (sole) intention that it will click,” Jonathan says.
“If that involves food with your coffee, so be it. A coffee shop is [not just] about coffee but also service, also the aesthetic and food. That’s what formed the new menu. We were already doing sandwiches before but we wanted something that would also work with our tiny kitchen.”
In 2012, Jonathan quit his IT job and founded Magnum Opus, formally launching it on March 16, 2013. He opened the quaint and rustic coffee shop on the second floor of The Prime Building on Aguirre Avenue without really knowing exactly what he was doing, save wanting to create a specialty-coffee experience that he could savor and share with those similarly inclined.
Magnum Opus is now brighter and more cheerful compared to the café’s previous muted, vintage look. Now, one side is covered with a funky black-and-white wallpaper, while the lamps by the counter and wooden round tables are repurposed furniture from Jonathan’s now-defunct café, Restock Coffee & Curiosities. On the other hand, two flat screens are mounted on the wall by the counter create a colorful digital display of the café’s menu.
Despite these big changes, some things remain the same, like Magnum Opus’ homey charm, and their Tardis-inspired restroom, which shows Jonathan’s fondness for British sci-fi series Doctor Who. Plus, there’s a little seedling that miraculously grew between the tiles by the café’s glass sliding door. They say it celebrates Magnum Opus’ third birthday this year and has grown to about three feet. “We don’t even water it. It survived the entire construction phase. We were told it's Acacia, but we’re scared if it is,” Jonathan shares.
Old-time favorites like the grilled cheese Monte Cristo (P250) can now be enjoyed with homemade creme fraiche, a cross between sour cream and heavy cream that’s slightly tangy and nutty. Coupled with their homemade sweet cranberry jam, the enormous sandwich has slivers of farmer's ham and chicken roast, gooey mozzarella, and sharp cheddar tucked in between two thick slices of French toast.
Egss on Toast
The Eggs on Toast (P150) is a tasty order of silky-smooth, creamy scrambled eggs with two crispy and chewy slices of sourdough. Magnum Opus uses only local and organic eggs, while the bread is ordered fresh daily.
The Risoni Tartufo (P280) is served with freshly made risoni, with a perfect creaminess that doesn’t overpower the natural earthy taste of shiitake. Aromatic onion chunks also add a kick of flavor, a nice surprise to the palate.
For the uninitiated, the Belgian Heartbreak (P175) is a crowd favorite at Magnum Opus. It’s basically a cup of mocha made better with rich Belgian chocolate, steamed milk, and a shot of espresso. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, the café serves decaffeinated beverages, so you can now order their bestsellers minus the “heartbreak.”
Magnum Opus roasts their signature blend weekly at their sister café, Exchange Alley Coffee House in Alabang. For single-origin coffee (either filter or espresso), the Ethiopian Kochere (P150) from the Yirgacheffe Gedeo region makes a great option for those who are looking for something light and smooth. It’s made from natural heirloom beans, with notes of cranberry, cherry, and soft florals.
Meanwhile, the Spro Tonic (P185) is an espresso drink mixed with Fever-Tree tonic water and garnished with a sundried lemon slice. It’s astonishing how this simple combination creates a taste so sophisticated and complex—a beautiful interplay between the espresso’s acidic flavor and the tonic water’s slight bitterness. Stir the iced drink until the flavors meld into one unique and refreshing beverage.
The refurbished place now accommodates more people and you’ll find their mini-herb garden in the al-fresco patio, where they grow flat-leaf parsley, arugula, mint, and oregano. There may be many dining selections along Aguirre Avenue, but if you want to pair fine coffee with great food, Magnum Opus is definitely one of your best options.
Photos by Hans Fausto