Grinder @ Damansara Kim

June 27, 2014

Our longer-than-expected wait for Grinder to open finally grinds to a halt; it's another suburban spot with a measure of promise on the Damansara Kim shophouse street that's home to Kompassion & The Kitchen Table.

Grinder's appearance fits what cafe-hoppers have come to expect from residential neighbourhood nooks, professionally put together to straddle the line between casual & chic. As a bonus, local artists can have their work exhibited for free on the walls. Service is efficient without being effusive, but there's an easygoing vibe that could make this place a favourite for many patrons.

Grinder's kitchen opens for lunch & dinner; the menu takes the 'less is more' route in terms of diversity but it's encouragingly distinctive, steering clear of the Klang Valley's current cafe cliches with an unexpectedly French-influenced repertoire, which includes this enjoyable traditional onion soup (RM10).

The food here makes for a pleasant lunch, particularly since prices fall within a reasonable range. We'd have liked a more convincing dressing for this salad & a less barely-there rationing of toasted walnuts, but the choice of leaves was a nice one & the crunchy croutons topped with creamy brie & honey were tasty. RM14.

Love Grinder's take on the croque monsieur (RM17); perfect to curb carb cravings, thanks to thick, fluffy slices of grilled bread made flavourful with tender chicken & cheese. But the roast potatoes on the side tasted like limp leftovers, even if they weren't.

Duck confit plays a significant role at Grinder; you'll see it in a salad & sometimes with pasta here, but the more unusual preparation might be these wonton-like crispy dumplings stuffed with duck & served with a choice of orange reduction sauce, sour cream with chives, or sweet chilli (customers can only have one sauce with each order). RM7.

Plenty of escargots in this linguine with crushed cashew-broccoli pesto sauce (RM23, or RM17 without the canned snails). It's a recipe with a rustic, nearly home-made feel. Sauces are made from scratch at Grinder, which emphasises healthier ingredients.

Penne arrabiata with prawns in a well-balanced, lightly spicy sauce made with San Marzano plum tomatoes, chilli peppers & garlic (RM26, or RM17 without the five-or-so prawns). Decent bet for a light lunch.

Desserts are obtained from other suppliers; we liked the moist chocolate cake with a hint of Earl Grey & a raspberry coulis topping, while the salted caramel macaron was worthwhile too.

For now, Grinder's food is better than its beverages (unexpectedly so, since the cafe's name is meant to evoke coffee beans); the latte (RM10) needs work, the presence of the milk steamer with dark chocolate pieces (RM12) could be reconsidered & the pink grapefruit soda might not warrant forking out RM9. But we're optimistic that everything will improve in the months to come. 

Grinder Cafe
45, SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Open Tues-Sun, 10am-10pm (with kitchen closed between lunch & dinner). Tel: 03-7732-4689

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