Le Meridien KL spent two months on a revamp of its lobby level, removing the Conservatory lounge & replacing it with what's now called "Hub," comprising cheerful cafe Gastro Sentral & coffee bar Latitude 03.
Gastro Sentral is an inviting spot, sweepingly spacious, flooded from floor to high ceiling with waves of natural light throughout the sunshine hours.
Complimentary rosemary bread, served warm with lobster oil (!) & balsamic vinegar, could become Gastro Sentral's signature feature. Fresh & filling.
Begin with brunch, available 11am-5pm. For a one-of-a-kind recipe that kinda tastes Tex-Mex, tackle these poached eggs with house-baked beans, pumpkin-polenta bread, wilted spinach & Thuringer Bratwurst. RM30 (prices here are nett).
Packed with an aromatic punch to wake us instantly: truffle scrambled eggs on toasted foccacia, roast field mushrooms, basil pesto, pine nuts, rocket & feta cheese (RM32).
Fruity-thick & sweetly tasty: French toast (RM26) with soft-not-mushy bananas, strawberries, pistachio ricotta & maple syrup.
Moving on to all-day-dining specialties: an imaginative stunner of a seafood salad (RM43), delicate but complex, featuring a slice of perfectly ripe watermelon topped with scallop ceviche, lobster medallions, young coconut & lime.
Ocean trout flakes, heirloom tomatoes, corn tortilla chips, avocados & honey-mustard vinaigrette. Not exorbitant at RM36, but wish we had a Starwood card to help us save cash on this.
This one's well worth the price though: Country "kampung" chicken terrine (RM20), rustic & remarkably textured, with pickled onions, gherkins & grilled baguette.
This would fit in at Favola: Ravioli stuffed with Langkawi's Friendly Farms cottage cheese (RM32), elevated further with truffle butter & fried sage.
Pink peppercorn pavlova with basil syrup (RM19). Desserts display the same dashes of inventiveness as the savories; Gastro Sentral can't be dismissed as a cookie-cutter hotel cafe.
Fair range of wines by the glass. Merlot, Gerard Bertrand Art de Vivre (Languedoc) & Chardonnay, Private Collection (Robert Mondavi, California).
Chili & peach margarita (RM30).
Moving on to Latitude 03 (the number refers to the hotel's position on the globe).
Peanut butter in hot chocolate? A love-it/hate-it proposition, probably.
More palatable: peanut butter & banana milkshake (RM20). Terrific taste & texture for this one.
Boozy beverage: Coffee, Baileys, kahlua, caramel syrup, milk (RM25).
Creme brulee latte (RM20). Love the caramelized "crust" here, it makes a difference.
Gastro Sentral & Latitude 03,
Le Meridien Hotel Kuala Lumpur.