Bandits Coffee Bar hijacks the limelight this week; breaking into Bukit Damansara, this wild bunch of brunch-crazy baristas - armed with avocados & helmed by a notoriously tattooed ringleader - seems set to steal the hearts of KL's cafe enthusiasts.
Bandits commits no crimes against good taste - it launches with the command & conviction of a fully formed cafe that comprehends its strengths. It needs no gimmicks; the crowds will come, recognising the vibrancy of its team & the vivaciousness of kitchen highlights like this quinoa salad with beetroot, pumpkin, avocado, orange slices & feta (RM15 nett).
Bandits is one of those occasional cafes that succeeds in taking us by surprise, confidently gunning for exuberant creations that flaunt robust flavours. Tangy linguine with ravishingly cooked chunks of squash, tender beef bacon & intense goat's cheese (RM18) makes for a medley that would play memorably in any Italian outlet. We can imagine wanting to eat this again.
Portions prove hearty, at prices that won't seem like highway robbery; RM13 amounts to a hill of beans (peas, to be precise) with mushrooms on toast. The food feels honest & nourishing - the sort of recipes these Bandits themselves probably relish.
If there's one thing Bandits' French toast isn't guilty of, it's stodginess. Bountifully blessed by bananas & complemented with coconut & cinnamon in the right proportions, this is as fluffy as bread gets. RM14; irrefutable evidence against skipping carbs.
Bandits does justice to pretty much everything we've tried so far, from the full-of-flavour lamb steak sandwich (RM18) to the full-of-freshness bowl of kefir with muesli, apples, bananas & cinnamon (RM16). The team is still tweaking some preparations (there may be an avocado mash soon to enhance the posh beans toast), but this still represents an impressively strong start.
Be on the alert for Bandits' accomplices - this score might not be as successful without the help of indies such as The Accidental Bakers, who supply the likes of Snickers tarts, chai tiramisu & spinach ricotta puffs; Baked By Lisa, a purveyor of S'mores brownies (heated up, they're drop-dead delicious); & the mysterious Mrs Chong & Kei Chi, whose temptations include terrific cheese tarts topped with macadamia nuts & salted caramel.
But if you only have space & time for one cake & one beverage, then raid the counter for The Accidental Bakers' lovably luscious chocolate avocado cupcake, paired with head barista Neil Ng's irreproachable coffee for Cassidy-&-Sundance-Kid synergy. For tea lovers, the Hanami - Japanese sencha with cherry blossoms - is both invigorating & currently season-suitable.
Bandits Coffee Bar
16 Jalan Medan Setia 2, Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Business hours not finalised; to be safe, come between 8am & 5pm for hot food, though the outlet may stay open for dessert & drinks till 8pm. Could be closed Tuesdays.
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