Words: Patricia Podorsek Photos: Monica Tindall
For all the glitz and glamour of the many trendy and fine dining restaurants in KL, I am always a sucker for the neighborhood place that provides a personal and intimate food experience. With a modus operandi of “friendly, fast, and casual,” Pinch Bistro in residential Bangsar has quickly become one of my favorite places to recommend in the city.
The black and white parquet floors meld seamlessly with the chalkboards and the windows to create a space that is both urban and cozy, retro and modern, warm and cool. A little bit of blues roaming the airspace slows the pace of city life and helps to leave troubles at the door.
The name “Pinch” refers to the original flavor enhancer “a pinch of salt,” but in creating the menu, the owners were looking for a pinch of enhancement from different cuisines. This translates to food and drinks that blend the classic with the unique.
Take, for instance, the afternoon cocktail staple, the Bloody Mary. Always one of my favorites, our bartender made perhaps the freshest-tasting Bloody Mary I’ve ever enjoyed. He blends tomatoes with whole chillies, mustard, sherry, and a kitchen cupboard full of other very secret ingredients to create a smooth gazpacho with tang and kick (and not just from the chilies!). Each one is made fresh to order.
In keeping with the accessibility of the menu, nine different wines are offered by the glass, something for every palate. One of the two rose´s, a French Chateau de Ribaute 2013 (RM29, bottle RM145) was a fruity, smooth-finishing wine, easy drinking on a hot afternoon.
Of the three whites on offer, we selected a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc that didn’t taste like a typical French sauvignon blanc. The Cote Mas Blanc (RM25/125) presented something crisper and more tropical than the varieties I am more familiar with. I enjoyed the lingering fruity notes of the aftertaste.
Our entry into Pinch’s kitchen was delivered by the Coppa Ham Crostini (RM28), grilled toast topped with feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil wrapped into coppa ham horns. With its balance of savory complements, the four portions make this an excellent plate for sharing.
The unique nature of Pinch’s culinary expertise was just beginning, however. Varying widely from the classic mince and raw egg combo, Pinch’s Steak Tartar (RM36 starter, RM68 main) kneads bits of tenderloin with gherkins and fresh herbs for a tangy and refreshing variation of the original. The result is not heavy or sticky, but creamy in texture, and zesty in taste. Between this and the Bloody Mary, I could have happily abandoned the rest of the menu!
But I’m glad I didn’t. Otherwise I might have missed the Fruit Marinated Pork Shoulder (RM42), a cut infused with fruity sweetness and capped with tropical fruit salsa, probably the most festive dish on the menu.
I might also have missed the Duck Confit with Peach, Potatoes, and Arugula (RM42), a simply-presented homestyle dish with crispy skin and melty meat that slips off the bone. The rich and salty duck is trimmed by the sweet peaches and peppery rocket for a well-rounded array of flavors.
On the more decadent end of the spectrum, the Chorizo Cheeseburger with Bacon (RM35) features a marbled, soft-textured pork patty touched by a little backseat heat. Adding very crisp shoestring fries on the side makes this a meal that you shouldn’t tell your doctor about.
The richness of the burger was nicely paired with the tannic F. Thienpont Bordeaux 2011 (RM28/140). The acidity of this Merlot Cab-Franc helps to cut the fat of the burger and overlay the meats with fruit and spice. The less intense 2014 La Forge Estate Pinot Noir (RM32/158) was equally enjoyable with its undertones of cherry and pepper.
Despite my talk of well-tendered meats, vegetarians need not suffer at Pinch. A word to the waitstaff will set the chef into artistic motion, spinning something off the menu beyond the dreaded pasta with red sauce. Our request inspired a Vegetarian Pie, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower folded into a garlic cream sauce and crusted with puff pastry.
However, the winner of the Yum List Fridays-in-February-Taste-Bud Award (and, not incidentally, the owner’s), is the Bacon-Wrapped Cod with Salsa and Parmesan Crusted Parsley (RM68). A crispy exterior of Parmesan breadcrumbs yields to super flaky and moist whitefish. Drops of olive oil and a balsamic reduction balance the savory cut of the cheese for a well-balanced tower of flavor.
Never one to ignore my sweet tooth, I was happy to sample the Grand Marnier Tiramisu (RM22) off the dessert menu. Dense coffee flavors the ladyfingers but it’s the solid blanket of Grand Marnier-infused cream that knocks this glass out of the park.
Pinch is open Tuesday to Sunday, from noon until midnight, with additional hours for breakfast on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays. If you’re looking for a friendly intimate alternative to the bustle of KLCC and Bangsar Village, this is your place.
Reasons to visit: Uber-fresh Bloody Marys, zesty steak tartar, bacon-wrapped cod, and many other unique culinary delights sheathed in a comfortable, neighborhood package.
57 Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar
59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6 03 2201 5766