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Published: Friday February 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday April 20, 2013 MYT 3:41:47 PM

Nostalgic delight for the senses

THE charming, old-world ambience of 55 Cafe & Restaurant is ideally suited for leisurely moments indulging in great food and great company, whilst soaking in historic George Town’s unique character.

Located in a pre-war shophouse along Stewart Lane behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage city, it is an unlikely but excellent purveyor of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and tapas.

Tapas, light and refreshing treats derived from the quintessential Spanish practice and pastime, is great for conversation, especially when paired with the cafe’s speciality coffee brews, wines or homemade sangria (sweet wine punch).

Take your pick from some 35 different tapas choices, encompassing meats, vegetable and seafood, available all day long.

Highlights include the Cold Cut Platter with Pickles and Bread, which features a medley of homemade pork meatballs, and imported French ham, pork rib eye and Italian salami.

Another, the Tenderloin with Roasting Jus, is cooked to your order of doneness. A steak primed for sharing, it is served with sauteed mushrooms.

Other crowd favourites include the Gambas Aljillo (shrimps with garlic, olive oil and chili), Homemade Chicken Liver Pate with Bread Basket, Albondigas (pork meatballs) and Vongole (clams) in White Wine Sauce.

Cost-conscious Penangites seeking value for money, or those unsure which to pick from the ala carte menu, may gravitate towards the Tapas Sets for two, which feature four to six different items, instead.

Available from noon onwards, there is the Tapas Starter Set, as well as Vegetarian, Traditional, Meat Lovers, Seafood Lovers and Luxury Tapas Sets, priced between RM55+ and RM99+.

If you happen to be in the vicinity in the mornings, drop by the cafe for breakfast (9am to noon). There are the American and Continental varieties, Bocadillo (Spanish sandwich), croissants, scrambled eggs on toast, and the lavish Extravaganza Breakfast.

There is a good selection of salads, starters and pastas available from noon to 5pm. The signature Cafe 55 Salad and Smoked Norwegian Salmon Salad are both equally great and healthy appetite ticklers.

For pastas, choose from the vegetarian Siciliana, the creamy Carbonara, seafood and white wine-based Alla Vongole Bianco, tomato-based Alla Vongole con Pomodoro, decadent Marinara or the simple Aglio Olio.

Leave room for dessert because gems such as the Lemon Cake Surprise served with Ice-Cream are to die for.

Currently, the cafe offers a Set Lunch menu on weekdays from noon to 3pm, priced at RM35nett. Guests can choose a starter, two tapas items, a dessert and a drink.

The 55 Cafe & Restaurant is a component of Coffee Atelier, a collection of five interlinked and beautifully restored shophouses built in 1927, owned and run by Stefan and Lorina Gehrig.

The cafe derives its name from its street address number, 55, while the neighbouring 53, Stewart Lane, houses a lounge and ‘Kopi Museum’. It was once a coffee merchant’s workshop.

The other components are the Gehrig Art Gallery at 51, as well as four well-appointed suites for short or long-term stays at 47 and 49, Stewart Lane.

There are also spaces available for various functions, catering for small groups up to 20 pax. The cafe is open daily from 9am to 10pm, and has free WiFi. Details, look up Coffee Atelier on Facebook or call 04-2612261.

Tags / Keywords: Community, News, Lifestyle, gourmet guide

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