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Friday May 4, 2012

Newly-opened Nostalgie Cafe is making waves

SET in one of those long, old, beautifully restored shophouses situated in the middle of Heritage George Town that have recently become so fashionable, Nostalgie Cafe is going to make other outlets in Penang sit up and pay attention.

Opened just a few months ago, this aptly-named place is already making a name for itself, even amongst prudent Penangites, for providing reasonably priced yet tasty western food.

The front section, furnished with old-fashioned kopi tiam-style round tables with marble tops, ceiling fans and antique furniture, certainly harks back to past times.

It’s the sort of place one pops into if one happens to be in this part of town, to escape the heat of the day or for one of their ice-cold refreshing soft drinks, or a quick snack such as the Rocket and Mushroom Salad.

Topped with shaved parmesan cheese and dribbled with not-too-tart balsamic vinegar, the salad is not too heavy and just right.

In the middle, an airwell allows for light and ventilation, and beyond this, a small section at the back is furnished with comfortable modern furniture that caters for the dining crowd. Paintings of local scenes decorate the walls.

Proprietor Jason Lee is a self-taught chef who, as his mother Margaret, one of the partners, explains, has always loved to experiment in the kitchen, and this passion shows in the food that he serves up.

The small pork-free menu is contemporary and features some interesting dishes with a touch of fusion. He realises that taste buds of locals have been awakened to western cuisine but they still like that local dab of piquancy to give it that overall roundness.

A great example is the Prawn and Chilli Alio Olio Spaghetti, the al dente pasta tossed in a light but tasty mixture of olive oil and garlic, spiced up with some chopped green chilli padi.

It’s hot stuff though, so those who prefer their pastas without that extra zing can ask for it without the chilli padi, or opt for one of their other mains like the Penne Arrabiata, the round rolls of pasta served with a tomato, garlic and olive sauce, topped with a piece of tasty fried fish.

Their pizzas, using home-made dough which results in a light, crispy base, are pretty good too. As fellow diner Nick R puts it, “The best pizza I’ve had in Penang”.

The Prawn and Chilli topping was good, but the Chicken and Feta dotted with salty goat cheese and dripping with melted mozzarella and tasty home-made basil-scented pesto was excellent. Vegetarians should try the Margharita which is equally fantastic.

But diners should not give in to temptation and eat too much because they’ll soon regret it, as the best is yet to come: a slice of their delicious signature Carrot Cake with a hint of cinnamon was the perfect companion to the sweet yet savoury cream cheese frosting.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Margaret saved the best bit till last: dark, moist and luscious Chocolate Brownie straight out of the oven, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It really doesn’t come any better than that.

It’s not a large place, so it is advisable to book in advance, and as Jason is the chief and only cook, a bit of patience would be appreciated. Remember, good things come to those who wait!

Nostalgie Cafe is located at 34, Stewart Lane. Call 04-2610977 for reservations or more information.

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