It's the history that counts for Coliseum. For this restaurant that enthralled W. Somerset Maugham in the 1920s & ensnared hundreds of thousands of customers in the ensuing decades, 2013 marks a milestone, as a new management strives to broaden the Coliseum brand.
Coliseum's first spin-off opens this week in PJ's Plaza 33, keen to recreate the colonial-era magnetism that makes the Tuanku Abdul Rahman original so enduring & endearing. That might expose this venue to mockery that true charm can't be cloned, but cynical critics matter not.
Whether you're eating in KL or PJ, Coliseum's menu remains unwavering in its worship of recipes that were old long before the latest generation of executive chefs was young. The signature Chateaubriand steaks will always sizzle here, smothered in either black pepper or brown sauce.
Hearty but chewy. At RM70.90++, it's also a full RM10 higher than than what Coliseum Cafe in downtown KL charged for this in January 2012.
A bite of this Hainanese chicken chop (RM24++) brings buried memories into sharp focus; it's food that's familiar in a manner that breeds no contempt, not when the people who introduced us to this three decades ago are now faded figures whom we miss dearly.
Everything else is still here too: Shrimp salads, oxtail soups, garlic toasts & caramel puddings. Unstinting servings of nostalgia on shiny-fresh plates.
What's missing: Booze. Coliseum PJ is having trouble securing a liquor license, so wine & margaritas remain woefully unavailable.
It's arguable whether Coliseum's expansion _ we may see more outposts in Mid Valley & elsewhere this year _ is prompted purely by commercial avarice. But as far as legacies go, Coliseum's isn't tarnished, not by this fledgling branch.
PJ Coliseum Cafe 1921,
Ground Floor, The Plaza, Jaya 33, Section 13, Petaling Jaya.
Same building as Noble Mansion, Kampachi & D'Cuisine.