Beyond brunch: Make a dinner date with The Bread Bar for charcoal-roasted pleasures, handmade pasta & plated desserts

March 23, 2023

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The Bread Bar is now open for dinner six nights a week, everyday except Wednesdays, with an ambitious, adventurous menu of charcoal-roasted recipes, plus crowd-pleasing handmade pastas and plated desserts.

These dinners are designed for sharing - hot, hearty plates that seek inspiration both locally and abroad.

Banana leaf-wrapped sea bass with botanical pesto channels Penang Nyonya inspirations; reinterpreted prawn toast and beef brisket char siu recall Cantonese roots; jerk-spiced chicken jives to a Jamaican groove; broccoli is made luscious with labneh, cabbage is imbued with the umami of miso and the spice of ajvar.

If you've only ever encountered The Bread Bar as a bakery-cafe, now's the time to experience its darker side, when the sun goes down and the Japanese-inspired hibachi grill is fired up.

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Evenings feel like a relaxed affair at The Bread Bar - regulars saunter in, welcomed by a wonderful team that makes the effort to slowly but surely recognise their faces, names and preferences. It's a lovely space to unwind, with a meal that should be relished, not rushed.

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Still craving carbs past dusk? The Bread Bar has you covered: Its crunchy, chunky slices of sourdough toast are a confident companion for Cold Cuts & Seasonal Cheese (RM55) - the robust selection of turkey chorizo and bresaola is sourced from a halal-certified Malaysian meat supplier, while the evolving line-up of cheeses might span soft, creamy brie to harder, sharper fontina (a great gateway to funkier cheeses), rounded out with marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes for the perfect night-or-day take on a charcuterie board.

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The Prawn Toast (RM18) pays homage to the classic HK sesame-seed shrimp toast, transformed from a dim sum treat into a dinnertime temptation. 

Thick, full-bodied wholemeal rye bread is topped with a fresh, tender paste of tiger prawns and fish, crisped with a coating of millet grains that pops on the palate, uplifted with zesty. zingy coriander yogurt and lime - a fun starter, playfully tinkering with a familiar favourite. 

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While the most elaborate dishes are meant to be communal, a fast, fuss-free dinner can still be ordered, thanks to the pastas. 

Don't skip the Smoked Duck Ravioli with Miso Sauce (RM40), stuffed with smoked duck, spinach and ricotta, enveloped in parcels of mellow miso, not too punchy or potent. 

The surprise is the scattering of toasted hazelnuts and duck fat, trimmed from smoked duck, chopped and fried to evoke chu yau char, but in a crackly poultry rendition instead of pork. Gloriously genius, absolutely addictive.

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For a meat-free meal, the Mushroom Pesto Pappardelle (RM38) is bursting with rich flavour, smooth ribbons tossed with a sauteed medley of mushrooms, pine nut pesto, cream and Grana Padano, worthy of a terrific trattoria.

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The highlights of the evening comprise charcoal-grilled and oven-baked and roasted creations.

While cabbage might not be the star of most meals, The Bread Bar's Miso Roasted Cabbage (RM32) is a must - purple cabbage, cut into large, fleshy wedges, rubbed in miso marinade that balances the brassica's earthy astringency, roasted at a high temperature so the cabbage is succulently steamed in its own juices.

The cabbage is laid with sauteed mushrooms, barley and sourdough crumble over ajvar sauce that conveys the sweet smokiness of bell peppers - nuanced in its complexities of flavour and subtleties of texture, this is one of our favourite vegetarian dishes at any KL restaurant.

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Charcoal Roasted Carrots (RM17) illustrate the potency of The Bread Bar's hibachi grill, fuelled with local organic charcoal. The grill retains heat remarkably, infusing produce with a more intense, persistent sultriness.

The spiced-and-herbed carrots are buttered and quartered into lengthy strips before being grilled, plated with pumpkin seeds and pomegranates for lively fruitiness, topped with kombu ricotta cream - more decadent than regular old rabbit-food carrots.

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For protein, fish is the ideal introduction - The Bread Bar's Sea Bass with Botanical Pesto (RM46) is all about Asian aromatics, blanketed in banana leaf and served with a salad of ulam. 

At first glance, this resembles ikan bakar, but its preparation weds Western techniques with Eastern flavour profiles. The pesto is crafted not only with basil but bunga kantan, ginger and garlic, lending a floral, fragrant headiness to the fish.

The sea bass fillet is charcoal-grilled in its own juices within the leaf; it's then poured over with the pesto when it's opened up, piping-hot so that the herbaceous flavours seep into the fish. The result is unique, a hybrid in some fashion of Peranakan steamed fish and otak-otak. 

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The Beef 'Char Siu' (RM53) is a brined beauty, featuring the juiciest parts of the brisket with a generous layering of fat, left over from the making of lunchtime's corned beef sandwiches. The moist meat is glossy in a house-made glaze, grilled and garnished with pickled mustard seeds and watercress to pierce past the nectarous stickiness. 

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The Jerk Chicken (RM40) is for fans of fowl with bold flavours - the chicken is sous-vide cooked, then roasted for extra dimensions of texture, seasoned with paprika, cinnamon, chillies and other spices that characterise slow-cooked Caribbean soul food, rounded out with corn fritters and jalapeño yogurt sauce, synching together the sweet, savoury and sultry.

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Complete the feast with sides of Broccoli with Chilli Oil, oven-baked and cushioned with house-strained labneh (RM18), and Potatoes, straightforward and satisfyingly roasted with duck fat and herbs (RM17).

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The Bread Bar serves a duo of desserts for dinner - one for chocoholics, the other for patrons who prefer a citrusy, bracing perk-me-up after a heavy meal.

For the former, the Chocolate Fondant is dark, dense and deep with a custardy centre, topped with 35% dulcey cremeux, hazelnut feuilletine and coral tuile, elegant enough for a Parisian pâtisserie (RM29); for the latter, the Lemon Cake Slice sends us out reinvigorated, loaded with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil in an alluring alchemy of acidity, buoyed by lemon curd cremeux, macerated strawberries, meringue and white chocolate (RM26).

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For customers who can tolerate caffeine at this hour, The Bread Bar's coffee mocktails make for an appetising accompaniment, especially since alcohol isn't served here. 

The Espresso Martini (RM20; cold brew coffee with non-alcoholic kahlua and tonic) and White Russian (RM20; espresso and cold brew with non-alcoholic kahlua, peppermint syrup and cream) offer smooth, soothing sips without the hangover, while the Lemon Mousse Long Black (RM18; cold brew and black tea with sun-dried orange and lemon mousse) and Sparkling Peach Cold Brew (RM17; cold brew with peach syrup and barbican) promise fruity flair with a mild maltiness.

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For kombucha fans, The Bread Bar spent months developing its own, in revitalising flavours of Applea Peach and Lychee Caribbean, more natural-tasting than commercial bottled brands, crowned with candy-like rolls of dehydrated orange (RM17 each).

If you favour the fizz but not the fermentation, check out the Sparkling Lemonade coolers, pristine with pineapple or gorgeous with grapefruit (RM16).

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57, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur. 
Open Thursday-Tuesday, 8am-5pm, 6pm-1030pm; Tel: 011-1200-5626