Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tate @ Intermark

It's easy to walk past this place and think there's nothing here except a wall. But that's part of the master plan for Tate, yet another 'bright idea' by the unbelievably tireless BIG Group.

Greeted by a silent knight, we took our first steps inside, unsure what loomed ahead.

Cocooned in secrecy, Tate's concept is inspired by speakeasies and private gentlemen's clubs. It's a classy, intimate space that allows customers to swiftly lose themselves in their own world.

Grab a comfortable seat by these screens, where beautiful silent movies from the 1920s play on while gentle music wafts in the background.

Cocktails at Tate are creative and complex. One of KL's most romantic concoctions: the Matahari, comprising Hennessy, chai-infused sweet vermouth, lemon juice, pomegranate & rosebuds.

Strawberry Ginger Mojito (flor de cana 4 yrs, ginger juice, strawberry, lime wedges).

Lemon Meringue Martini (luxardo limoncello, lemon juice, sugar, double cream, crackers). Drinks here were intoxicating enough to get the crowd fairly raucous by 7.30pm on a Tuesday.

Not many options for a teetotaler, but the terrific staff happily obliges requests.

Food is nearly nonexistent here. So raise your glass and drink up instead!

Our chance to hone our skills and become the next Fast Eddie Felson. Or not.

And nope, this isn't the end of The BIG Group's initiatives for 2011. The folks working for this evil empire have always been ultra-secretive about their projects, but if all goes well, there might be another bright idea to talk about before the end by July.


Tate,
Ground Floor, The Intermark, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2161-2367

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Profiteroles

Japanese savories & French sweets? Sometimes, it's the unlikeliest union that breeds the best results; in this case, the proof is in the profiteroles.

This charming cafe offers a reasonable range of basic fare _ everything from ramen and chicken katsu to gyoza and prawn tempura. We were pleasantly surprised by these handrolls, one stuffed with warm unagi and the other with tamago. There was minimal rice inside, substituted mainly with super-fresh greens for a springy crunch.

We had mixed feelings, however, about the outlet's namesake _ its profiteroles. I liked their creamy, custard-like chocolate filling, but my friend insisted they made his teeth ache.

More macarons? Really? But these do offer something different. There are several interesting flavors _ sakura, lavender, salted butter caramel _ that absolutely hit the spot, featuring less sugar compared to other macarons out there. But purists might say the ganache filling in this version is too thick and heavy.

Vanilla & chocolate sables. Classic cookies, nicely baked. Crisp and buttery all at once.

The walls here are decorated with real photographs taken of the cafe's own food, helping to create a warm, comfortable atmosphere. If all works well, this humble hideout could become Solaris Dutamas' next hip hangout.

One point: Profiteroles might currently seem impossible to find, but here are the basic steps _ take the escalator up from The Pink Sage, look for a Subway store, take the staircase from there up another level, then search for a cafe with no signboard.

A final note: no dinners are served here for now. The outlet is only open 10am-6pm, Mondays through Saturdays, but that should change later this year.

Profiteroles,
A3-01-07, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-6205-5503

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie

After a year of soaking up accolades at Solaris Dutamas, chef Nathalie Arbefeuille has stretched her frontiers, curating new concoctions at a sparkling venue that replaces High Tide in the city.

Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie is off to somewhat slow start. At High Tide's opening night in October 2009, only two tables were taken; in an eerie parallel, Cuisine Gourmet's first official dinner also attracted only two sets of paying customers, who began with the ritual of breaking fresh bread. Our reservations made one week in advance proved unnecessary.

A crucial note: head here for dinner instead of lunch. The difference: in future, Nathalie will only cook at this new outlet during dinner, since she'll remain faithful to her Solaris Dutamas restaurant at lunch. So if you want her to oversee the preparation of this crab cremeux in cucumber gazpacho with lobster bisque espuma, then come here only when the sun sets.

Everything on the menu bears Nathalie's inimitable creative imprint, though the kitchen retains the invaluable services of High Tide's maestro Evert Onderbeke. The Nathalie-Evert/French-Belgian partnership is a paean to cuisine par excellence, embodied by this idiosyncratic but indelible lasagne stuffed with snails, garlic mousseline & herb emulsion.

John Keats famously wrote that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever." This superb soup, comprising crispy Jerusalem artichokes with emulsified porcini mushrooms, was beautiful indeed, but alas, it supplied us with merely a minute of merriment. Still, we loved it truly. Suffused with both sweetness and earthiness that seemed otherworldly.

Scallops mashed three ways; one with oysters, the next with chives, the last with apples. Served with arugula sorbet (!!!!!). A masterclass on how to combine culinary components that create captivating chemistry.

Let's lift the veil on the desserts here, which are hypnotic in every sense of the word. Exhibit A: Rose meringue, with a heart of lychee & raspberry coulis.

Exhibit B: Gingerbread ice cream & grapefruit sorbet, paired with two types of macarons: lavender & apricot, alongside lemon & thyme.

Complimentary macarons to take home. Wheeeee!

Make no mistake: from Favola to Fisherman's Cove, Il Lido to Il Primo, Mandarin Grill to Millesime and Sage to Senses, we've repeatedly confirmed that KL's best restaurants can ensure an enthralling experience even in their earliest hours of business. By this criterion, Cuisine Gourmet seems a shoo-in to inhabit that illustrious shortlist.


Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie,
Menara Taipan, Jalan Punchak,
Off Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2072-4452

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bergie

Tired of Changkat's madding crowd? Take a three-minute ramble over to Bergie, which provides pork-packed, belly-busting meals in a simple but serene setting.

Our top tip is a tall order: the Mountain Burger, featuring two thick, tender pork patties topped with pineapple, cheese, caramelized onions & a fried egg. Yep, it tastes as luscious as it looks, partnered with crisp, blistering-hot fries. Not exactly food for the heart, but it sure is hearty.

Another humdinger: grilled pork belly, as all-out juicy as it gets, soaked in citrus-infused gravy that beats BBQ sauce any night. And to state the obvious: Bergie's food is built for sharing.

Pork sausage & bacon pizza. We'd prefer this with a thinner crust, but the rich toppings make up for that, with lots of chunky, flavorful meat embedded in the gooiest cheese imaginable.

Pork meatball spaghetti. No-frills pasta for people who want it back to the basics. Reminded us of the first time we tried spaghetti bolognese, when we gleefully savored every mouthful, inadvertently smearing some tangy sauce on our chins and spilling strands of pasta on the table.

Apple Margarita & Long Island Iced Tea cocktails.

Softie Snake Bite & Poor Man's Black Velvet beer.

Lyrebird Shiraz. Wine is available by both the bottle and the glass.

Bergie Evergreen Pub & Restaurant,
Jalan Berangan, Off Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2141-5955

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The V

Back to The V for meat-free fare. Earlier entry: April 4.

Salad with egg, mock ham, almonds, raisins & wasabi dressing. Customers can mix and match their own selection of salad toppings here; this combination worked wonderfully, if we do say so ourselves. Savory, sweet, nutty & spicy, all at once.

Pan-fried Chinese dumplings. A snack attack served steaming-hot; addictively tasty, as any dumpling worth its salt should be.

"Meatballs" in cream. Texturally satisfying "meatballs," with a firm feel. But the cream sauce was overly reminiscent of carbonara, which can be too cloying after a spoonful or two.

Pesto lasagne. Lighter than regular meat-based lasagne; the pesto sauce proved excellent, with a deliciously distinct herbal flavor.

Fried potato croquettes. Forgettable, unless you're passionate about potatoes.

Potato chips. Chunky cuts, crisp on the outside, soft and piping-hot within. Bonus points for lacing this with a pleasant pinch of Cajun pepper.

Warm chocolate pudding with custard sauce. A rich, creamy confection.

Orange pudding. Moist and fresh-tasting, but bordering on bland. An OK option if you prefer less sugar in your desserts though.


The V Cafe,
Syopz @ The Boardwalk,
Taylor's Lakeside Campus.