A new management and a new menu can make a world of difference to an old cafe chain.
When a friend mentioned going to this cafe for lunch, visions of the Grilled Portobello Mushroom floated before me. It’s not just any mushroom, mind you, as it comes on fresh slices of ciabatta slathered with pesto and a poached egg on top, cooked just right for a lovely balance of flavours.
If a cafe can make diners have such fond longings for its food, it’s got some serious mojo.
Which is no mean feat, considering how its reputation has taken a dip as reviews of its declining food quality and service haven’t been too flattering in recent years.
Although Eastern and Oriental Bhd acquired 10-year-old The Delicious Group in 2010, the cafe decor still looks the same and the menu doesn’t seem all that different either. There are currently six Delicious cafes in the Klang Valley and one in Singapore.
Upon closer examination, however, there’s actually a lot going on beneath the surface since The Delicious Group CEO and chef Steve Allen took a personal interest in reworking the menu. Almost everything familiar and staid has been thrown out from the original menu, retaining only key dishes, and even those have been updated.
A couple of months ago, the second new menu was introduced and it’s apparent that Delicious cafe has taken on a whole new personality.
The Salted Egg and Pumpkin Penne has all the makings of being the hot new favourite – slightly sweet from the pumpkin, layered with textures and a salty edge – altogether a wholesome and satisfying carbo fix.
Don’t like the Malaysian twist? There’s the Creamy Tomato Bucatini, given a touch of spice with beef bacon and toasted garlic breadcrumbs. For a change, the spaghetti isn’t drowned in tomato sauce ... one of my dinner companions remarked though that it could have been better had the spaghetti been al dente.
We didn’t get to try every single pasta as we wanted to save some space for other main courses, but the Homemade Pesto Mafaldine with Chargrilled Chicken, Duck Confit Spaghettini and Thai Crab Spaghettini are at the top of my list for my next visit. What’s more, every Monday and Tuesday, it’s “buy one free one” pasta day, so that’s good news for parents with growing kids!
I’m watching my cholesterol level, but I confess I had to control myself from polishing off the Lamb and Butternut Squash Massaman Curry! The meat, having been stewed for hours, was nicely tender to the bite, and while I generally prefer spicier curries, it was almost impossible not to be tempted by rice when drenched with the mild but rich, creamy massaman gravy. This is infused with Asian spices and cleverly juxtaposed with butternut squash, more commonly used in Western cooking. The cucumber peanut salad that came with the dish played off the flavours cleverly with a tinge of sourness.
I decided to try the most expensive item on the menu: the Grilled Sirloin Steak that comes with portobello mushroom, roasted cherry tomatoes, coleslaw and potato wedges. While the muscle meat doesn’t have the same juicy goodness of, say, a highly marbled strip loin, Delicious does a commendable version of the sirloin to fulfil meat cravings.
My friend tossed up a challenge to try the French Toast, one of the most basic items in many All-Day Breakfast menus, yet easily one of the hardest to get right. This was an especially tough act to follow since he had his grandmother’s cooking etched in memory! Fortunately, Delicious didn’t disappoint, with beef bacon and banana thrown in to boot. A more egg-y toast would be good, but essentially, it passed his acid test.
Salad isn’t everybody’s favourite and I know many friends (yes, adults) who are not into vegetables, much less raw ones. The Crunchy Kimchi Salad though, which had thin strips of carrot, apple, red radish and zucchini with the Korean dressing, will probably win over even the most stubborn of non-green eaters. Kimchi salad – lighter, with that familiar mix of sour, yet spicy and a little salty dressing – was a stroke of genius, reminiscent of our local Malay acar (pickle).
It’s not all rosy. The Crispy Mushroom Risotto Balls tasted bland, and could have done with more mushroom. And not all the desserts made an impact either – the Mango Mirror was average as was the Pineapple and Strawberry cheesecake as they were too firm, heavy on the gelatin. But the Banoffee was awesome and the Coconut Cake was a surprising winner. And, if all else fails, the Chocolate Brownie does what it’s meant to do – its dark, thick chocolate is comforting yet not too sweet – completing the meal beautifully when paired with a hot cup of 100% premium Colombian coffee.
At Delicious, the tagline is “we live to eat”, but it really should be “something for the whole family”. Heck, it even has a choice of wines if you want to unwind after a long day.
The latest addition to the fold is Simply D, which expands on a new concept targeting the Malaysian customer’s needs, focusing on fresh ingredients, generous portions and affordable prices. A compact version of the original Delicious cafe, Simply D offers pasta, sandwiches and cakes with an emphasis on quick service. The first outlet is located at Nu Sentral Mall, KL and another three are slated to open by year’s end at The Curve and Tropicana City Mall in Petaling Jaya, and Avenue K, KL.
Sounds like Delicious has made a convert out of me ... Not that you could tell, right?
DELICIOUS CAFE: Bangsar Village II Jalan Telawi 1 Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur Tel: 03-2287 1554 Business hours: Monday-Friday, 11am-11pm; Saturday, Sunday & public holiday, 9am-11pm For other outlets, log on to www.thedeliciousgroup.com