The Front Door @ Grocer's Inn, Jalan Sultan, Chinatown

October 6, 2014

Fans of hidden cafes are poised to flock to The Front Door, which makes its modest entrance this month into Chinatown, tucked inside a nearly century-old, three-storey building that was formerly occupied by Cantonese-speaking retail traders & now houses the Grocer's Inn backpackers' retreat.

The Front Door is still a work in progress, spearheaded by Basil, Wai Hong & Sarah, three relatively young entrepreneurs with family ties to the Grocer's Inn operators. But whatever happens, Basil promises the structure of this street-level cafe - its pilasters, floors & other neo-classical elements - will remain entirely unchanged, preserving the strong sense of history here.

 Come for the old-world charm, stay for the open-face sandwiches, surprisingly even better than expected. These are fabulous, with beautifully tuned flavours that make each toasted creation distinctive & delicious.

Hard to choose which ones we like best; we tried 10 from the current menu. Our three favourites: The gorgeous kitchen-made pesto with grilled chicken & caramelised orange; the luscious smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers & cucumber ribbons; & the sweet-savoury mozzarella with crunchy green apples, almonds & salted caramel.

 Special mention for the beef bacon with honey, cheddar & strawberries, a complex ensemble supplying supreme satisfaction. Or try the pepperoni with pizza sauce, mozzarella & fresh basil. Or for something sweet, the peanut butter with juicy bananas. Everything's thickly topped for big bites of brilliance.

Eggs aren't elusive at The Front Door; we like 'em both fried with a runny yolk (paired with sliced avocado & cream cheese) & hard-boiled (partnered with asparagus, sauteed mushrooms & cream cheese).

 One slice costs RM6, while a set of three is RM15 & five go for RM23. We're calling it right here: Open sandwiches are set to become the next hot trend at the Klang Valley's cafes; so far, the places that do it best (in very different ways) are Thirdwave & The Front Door.

The rest of The Front Door's menu comprises salads (our recommendation's this one with grilled prawns, mango, bean sprouts & cucumber with spicy lime mint vinaigrette & roasted sesame almonds for RM17) ...

 ... with a sprinkling of brunch fare, like the beef-bacon & cheese omelette with sage potatoes (RM15, not the highlight here), ...

 ... & pastas including spaghetti in a house-made arrabiata sauce with prawns & calamari (RM19; skip this for the sandwiches).

 Coffee? Yep, The Front Door has it. Expect to hear much more about this cafe in the months ahead; it has heaps of potential.

 Location? The Front Door is on the same street as Coffee Amo; cafe-hopping in this neighbourhood is a pleasurable breeze.

 Business hours? 10am-6pm on weekdays & till 9pm on weekends for now. Closed on Thursdays once every two weeks.

The Front Door At Grocer's Inn, 78, Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur

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