Freakshakes and good vibes in the South

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By Nom Seyer and Rosemarie A. Reyes

Living in the south is an exciting experience. Seeing the laid back place grow and explode with the sheer variety of dining options is a big plus for foodies like our family. San Pedro, Laguna is one of our never-before-visited places in the south, but it is now in our radar— all because of a small, rustic cafe that burst into my IG feed with their attention-grabbing milkshakes intriguingly named “freakshakes”. You may describe this dessert as milkshake on steroids.

That cafe is Beans and Mugs Laguna.

A spin off of Beans and Mugs Baguio, the Laguna branch opened in October 2017 in Biñan before moving to its present, and bigger, location in San Pedro Laguna in May 2018.

“No experience kami sa food business. We are not chefs. Mahilig Lang kami kumain,” shared Ms Bernadeth Astudillo with a laugh, as she described how she and husband Rommel stumbled into the food business.

“My brother opened the original branch in Baguio, quite by accident also. In no time, it became known for its freakshakes and burgers,” Sr Rommel began. “Here, we’ve already expanded the menu. Separate identity na from Baguio branch.” The southern branch was also the first to introduce the concept of holding corporate functions, training events and private parties. Interested parties may book the entire space for exclusive use for a minimum of three hours (Php1,500/hour, consumable).

“Since mahilig kami kumain, kung ano ang masarap sa panlasa namin, yun ang nilalagay namin sa menu,” Ms Bernadeth shared how they built their menu. Loyal customers rave about their homemade crust pizzas (from a local supplier who makes them in small batches), toppings and sauces all made from scratch.

But of course, what draws people in are the incredibly photogenic and beautifully layered freakshakes. Made with the freshest ingredients and good quality local ice cream generously heaped upon each glass, Beans and Mugs Laguna freakshakes are edible works of art. Exclusive to the Laguna branch is the current bestseller, KitKat Freakshake.

That afternoon, we tried one of their newest offering, the Pistachio Freakshake. Unlike ordinary shakes, the freakshake is more heavyweight in both looks and taste. Pistachio ice cream filled the vintage-looking glass, topped with bite-sized butterscotch squares, peanut kisses and almonds. One can’t help smiling at the sight of the freakshake. “Every time nagse-serve ako ng freakshake, nakikita ko talaga excited sila. Ang saya saya nila. From mga bata hanggang mga seniors, natutuwa sila pag nakita nila ang freakshake namin,” Ms Bernadeth narrated with a smile.

While it is good for two to share, many times a single customer can finish a freakshake on his own. Compliments from satisfied customers are “Hindi tinipid, even toppings masarap!” To that, we agree. The same can be said of the cafe’s savory dishes. Each plate is sizeable, considering the price, freshly cooked and again, generous in its ingredients.

The bestsellers that we sampled on our first visit were: Wings and Fries (the wings have light, crispy skin and moist, flavorful inside), Nachos Overload (these nachos remained crunchy even after a few hours), Cheesy Bacon Burger, Overload Fries and one of their popular rice bowls, Chicken Fillet (with homemade gravy and seasoning).

There’s a lot to say about the food in this little place. The fries are thick and delicious, made from real potatoes that they buy from the market after which they clean, slice and deep fry. Potato fries made in the best, old-fashioned way. They do the same with the potato chips that come as sides to the burgers (assembled using their own homemade patties). They also adhere to traditional cooking methods: no preservatives and no additives.

“We are proud of our prices. Quality food at very reasonable rates,” Ms Bernadeth shared and the accountant made sure her numbers line up. The perennial order of barkadas, the Nachos Overload, is priced at only Php180, for example. No surprise that the cafe always elicits comments such as “Sulit!” with two thumbs up.

Plans for the future include opening more branches in the south. For the business-minded Ms Bernadeth (founder of the popular Me&Mom, a breastfeeding and maternity online shop), who can ably juggle both a regular job and a business, anything is possible. Her husband, who is an accountant like her, said that it will just need careful planning especially regarding choosing the location.

For happy customers, that would mean more people will discover the happy pill called the freakshake. Bring on the good vibes!

Enjoy ample, free parking space when you visit the east-to-find Beans and Mugs Cafe at Km 31 National Road, San Pedro Laguna, Biñan City. It’s located at the second floor of the Alora Dental Clinic, Bear SPCBA and St Louis Anne College. You won’t miss the glass wall art and festive hanging lightbulbs. The cafe is open 11:30am-11pm, everyday. For more information, visit @beansandmugslaguna. To book an exclusive event, call (0917) 718 5868.

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