A concept that has been around for several years now, a gastrobar, or gastropub, is an establishment that marries the best bits of a restaurant and a bar to create an unassuming one-stop spot that promises sumptuous food and splendid drinks.
Unsurprisingly due to the city’s booming F&B scene, numerous venues employing this formula have popped up in KL, giving the discerning customer a decent range when it comes to cuisine and beverage selection. Whether tried-and-tested or left-field, there are food themes for the comfort seeker and curious eater in the bunch. Take these four for instance, each distinctively unique in its kitchen and bar styles.
The Tree House
This relative newcomer at Solaris has a curious name for a restaurant or bar. While it’s not built on a tree per se, it does have a massive tree of sorts within it, towering from floor to ceiling to evoke the sensation of being in a tree house. Just like a traditional tree house is a home away from home for kids to play in, The Tree House welcomes adults to unwind in its individual spaces, such as the mezzanine and patio.
Coming in strong on local flavours while offering a nice spread of western food as well, patrons are given a menu that covers plenty of the nation’s favourite meals, making this place a great one for those after Malaysian fare with their drink. The bar menu is not lacking either, with draughts, wines, whiskies, mojitos and more.
Buena Brasa, which translates directly to ‘good grill’ in English, is a Spanish enclave in The Sphere. As expected, dishes attributed to that European country can be found here, including tapas, paella and charcoal-grilled meat. They pair well with practically anything from the bar’s shelves, which stocks among other drinks cider, whiskies, rum and tequila.
Just like the act of figuring out what genre of food gets served at this months-old outlet, its clean décor is a pretty straight-forward affair. The open kitchen design invites inquisitive eyes to observe the preparation of the fare, which blends both traditional and contemporary in execution. The aromas wafting from the coals add to the Spanish grill experience.
What used to be Ashley’s in Telawi is now Borneo, and there’s no need for a long series of further hints to understand that it places emphasis on the fascinating food and drink from East Malaysia. Its subtle exterior makes way for an interior that is a bit more outspoken in terms of appearance, incorporating little charming elements of Borneo in places.
Specific ingredients like Bario rice are flown in from Sabah and Sarawak, and occupying the menu are some of Borneo’s signature dishes, presented in classy form without sacrificing authenticity in taste. The indigenous Borneo liquor, tuak (rice wine), is served in a few guises here, and is often combined with other native items such as janggut duyung (seaweed) to great effect in the unique house cocktails.
Properly British is what this other Telawi spot plainly is, something that hits home as soon as the life-sized Queen Elizabeth II cut-out at its doorstep is spied. It’s the same on the inside. The colours, decorations, murals, furnishing and other aspects of the design invoke an ambience that would not be out of place in a London restaurant. Fittingly, W1 refers to the postcode of the English capital’s Western district.
Keeping to this trend are what you can order here, most of which are staples of British food, ranging from the classics to the modern, available in either small plates or big. Accompanying these dishes are an assortment of alcoholic beverages commonly found in or allude to Old Blighty, including beers, cocktails, whiskies and gins.
The Tree House Kitchen & Bar
WHERE Lot J-0G, 3, Jalan Solaris, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 4pm-1am (weekday), 4pm-2am (weekend)
TEL 03 6206 3991
Buena Brasa Gastropub
WHERE Unit G9 & G10, The Sphere, Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur
TEL 03 2770 3520
Borneo Restaurant & Bar
WHERE 11, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 11am-1am (closed Tues)
TEL 010 250 2255
WHERE 22, Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur
WHEN 4pm-1am (Mon-Sat), 12pm-10pm (Sun)
TEL 016 221 6512 / 03 2201 5045