June 28, 2018
Standing in serene contrast with the bustle of Bangsar, this hidden hearth for honest, hand-crafted bread, breakfast bowls and brunch plates, shored up by everything from Spanish tuna to Malaysian cheeses, is a welcome sanctuary where comfort can be sought through conscientious cooking and pleasure can found in full-bodied forkfuls.
Tucked on an upper-level shop-lot, Alta (Italian for high) heralds a new collaboration between the ever-industrious folks behind Sitka, Feeka and Food Foundry with the team that runs Bangkung Road’s Pinch Bistro, embodying the kind of nourishing cafe - both physically and spiritually - that makes its neighbourhood a warmer, more rewarding place.
Perfect for patrons who rise and shine for a daybreak of gorgeous, golden yolks, Alta’s menu - springing up as early as 8 a.m. - is headlined by eggs in multiple preparations, layered proportionately over crisp, chunky sourdough toasts. Organic eggs, slow-boiled for six minutes, tender to their core, sit soothingly over their fresh, Sitka-baked base, with a flutter of furikake bringing a bit of the ocean’s brine to each bite (RM15), while scrambled eggs come satisfyingly creamy, made extra-textured with confit chilli peppers and upliftingly tastier with salsa verde (RM21).
Slices of European flair permeate the selection, reflecting smorrebrod-inflected trends that have stormed Copenhagen to Cologne, bolstered by inspirations that stretch from Scandinavia to the Seine and the Savio. Alta tops its tartines and stuffs its croissants with the likes of bresaola with comte and salami with basil, but for a cheeky culinary cross between the rambunctious and the refined, try the buffalo wing rillettes - smoky-sweet shredded chicken meat is served with crunchy shallots for a moreish open sandwich that would score rousingly for a football telecast snack (RM18).
If virtue is your vice though, there’s a wholesome bowl with your blood type and cholesterol count on it waiting for you here, ingrained with ingredients like granola, chia seeds, barley, cranberries and dragon fruit. Thankfully, Alta’s version of rabbit food isn’t a bland horse’s diet - overnight oats are transformed from ordeal into an oxymoron of guiltless indulgence, jazzed up by a groovy medley of roasted pecans and luscious compote of blackberries and mulberries, nicely nuanced (RM26).
We’ve saved the best for last: Cheeses, turned into shining stars of their own specifically conceived recipes, not merely bunched onto a five-for-fifty-ringgit platter with from-the-can crackers and wrinkled fruits. Both the stracciatella and the ricotta fully earn the spotlight, the former supported by an elegant ensemble of Italian olive oil, raw honey and pumpkin seeds (RM23), the latter almost award-worthy with a commanding cast of shaved raw vegetables, tomato compote and black olives (RM21), their artisanal characteristics making us wish Alta were as much cheesemonger as cafe.
The beverage selection isn’t a drink-and-run afterthought either; a piccolo (RM10) presented at the perfect temperature testifies skillfully to the Alta ringleaders’ years of experience behind the espresso machine, while wines (RM30 by the glass) silkily speak up for decades of toil and triumph in Australian vineyards.
Alta’s kitchen currently operates only through 5pm, though the venue remains open past sunset, with hot dogs potentially looming as the harbinger of dinner snacks. Walls bursting with pop-art portraiture hint at other future possibilities - a stracciatella party in July and dumpling-themed dinner in October? Alta clearly has its sights set on scaling further heights.
59-1, Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. Parking is free on this street.
Open Tues-Sun, 8am-11pm. Tel: 03-2201-0725