[Penang, Malaysia] Lunch at ๐—š๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐˜†

Our last meal outside for 2021 was brunch at the newly-opened, one-week-old ๐—š๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐˜† on Chulia Street yesterday, Dec 31. Its rather ambitious menu was conceptualised by its British executive chef, Paul Elliot, last being the head chef at the Rag - Army & Navy Club, London.

We started off with a selection of juices: pineapple, carrot and beetroot:

The food:
Steak and ale pie, with mashed potatoes and mushy peas - this is the most authentic version of the dish Iโ€™d had anywhere in this part of the world.

Vegetarian pie with pumpkin & apricot tagine filling - lightly-spiced, I actually loved this vegetarian pie as much as its meat counterpart.

Bangers & mash - the eatery is pork-less, to cater the sizable Muslim market in Malaysia, so you get chicken sausages here. Very different taste profile here compared to what one gets in the UK.

Desserts:
Apple pie with English custard - another very authentic-tasting rendition, down to the plain English custard sauce. Iโ€™ll come back here just for this.
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Sticky date pudding - tasty rendition. Particularly like the salty-caramelly toffee sauce.

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There is a Sunday roast which Iโ€™ll have to return for this weekend:

Address
Gravy Baby George Town
391, Chulia Street, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60175063860
Operating hours: 8am to 12 midnight daily.

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That absolutely looks The Business.

And I say that as a Northerner, so pies are hard wired into my genes.

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This was so good, John. But I really miss being back in London - still waiting for this infernal pandemic to be over, and we can all travel again.

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Yep. Weโ€™re scheduled to be off to Spain for three weeks soon. Travel is permitted, as we speak, but the particular Tripadvisor forum is packed with horror stories of no social distancing in airports (both countries) and long queues taking a couple of hours to get through passport control jammed in like sardines. Weโ€™re leaving it a little while before we finally decide whether to risk that or not.

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If you decide to risk it and go, please do keep safe, John.

Youโ€™ve gotten your booster jab, I assume? An old schoolmate of mine whoโ€™s in Houston, Texas, caught the virus a couple of weeks ago - he was vaccinated. He said he experienced common cold symptoms for 4-5 days, and is now fully-recovered.

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BiL had a cold, but took a lateral flow test. Negative, so he came for Xmas lunch. Then took another test - positive and confrmed with a PCR. Two jabs plus booster. So weโ€™ve all been taking regular flow tests - everyone else thankfully still negative, now a week after Xmas.

If we do go, weโ€™ll be fine once weโ€™re there. We donโ€™t go to crowded bars and the like and restaurants have patios, so weโ€™d plan to eat outside.

Oh, good. I took the tests 3 times in the past couple of weeks as I was involved in the two-week long Peranakan Penang 2021 Festival: first, as one of the speakers, and then in order to take part in a 2-day traditional Malay dance workshop, and finally, to attend the Xโ€™mas Day ball at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.

Next week, I needed to take one in order to attend the George Town World Heritage awards ceremony on Monday, then another one on Wednesdays in order to meet the Penang Chief Ministerโ€™s private secretary.

The test is becoming a way of life now!

Good idea! Stay safe, John.

You too, mate.

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We were back at Gravy Baby today for our first Sunday roast lunch for 2022. The place was full, and the nervous young service crew seemed rather overwhelmed by the crowd.

The very patchy service was compensated by the excellent Sunday roast: perfectly done roast beef, with roasted parsnip, boiled carrot & broccoli, cauliflower cheese and Yorkshire pudding.

For puddings, I chose to have the Eton Mess cheesecake. It was good, but did not impress us as much as the main dish.

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That Sunday Roast looks outstanding! I was thinking that the Steak and Ale Pie followed by the Apple Pie would be my choice, but I might decide to visit on a Sunday for the Roast! I did get a grin out of the neon sign in the bar area. โ€œColdest Beer on the Planet Served Hereโ€ is not something that seems quite right in a Brit based restaurant/bar. LOL! I am a more of a CAMRA guy, I guessโ€ฆ
With regards to travel, it just seems like a distant dream for me at this point. I have been to St. Thomas and St. Johns during the pandemic, and to Denver, but that is about it. I have heard that Thailand has a Sandbox program that will let you do your 7 day โ€œisolationโ€ upon arrival anywhere you want to go on the peninsula surrounding Phuket, which sounds pretty good. But I have an older dog and I can only leave her in care for 3 or 4 days in a row before I start to feel guilty. I have always figured Washington DC to Thailand was a minimum trip duration of 4 weeks, to make the flights worthwhile.
Maybe Cabo next month for 4 days.

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Itโ€™s just occured to me that the restaurant name is possibly a play on the โ€œGroovy, Babyโ€ catchphrase from the Austin Powers films.

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There was an even funnier neon sign in there. :joy:

Gravy Baby actually started off as an American-themed restaurant - something like Hollywood circa 1960s. But, along the way, they got a British head chef and, somehow, the menu started leaning towards British cuisine. But they never did change their initial decor.

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Sorry for the tangent but the bar and tables seem to be made from live edge slabs (eg, slabs cut and planed from whole trees rather than planks). Thatโ€™s pretty fancy decor for a restaurant- is that common in Malaysia?

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No, itโ€™s not really common in Malaysia. Gravy Baby is actually a KL-based chain of fairly upmarket bistros - 4 branches in KL and 1 in Malacca. This is their first of 3 branches planned for Penang.

Hello John. For business purposes I have travelled between Gatwick and Madrid (Iโ€™m in Madrid right now) a few times over the last year and I have experienced absolutely no passport queues at either end. In fact at Madrid the non-EU passport lane is mainly empty and much faster than the EU one.

As for social distancing itโ€™s pretty much the same as any busy public environment in the UK, and anyway youโ€™ll be sitting shoulder to shoulder with fellow passengers for a couple of hours. A bit like a bus or train at home.

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Thanks mate.

In the end, we decided to cancel. I follow the Tenerife Tripadvisor forum and itโ€™s been packed with stories of crowds at Manchester aiport. Folk on planes dodging the mask rule by taking hours โ€œdrinkingโ€. Very crowded at Tenerife airport. And what appears to be complete disregard for the mask wearing rules and a similar disregard by bars, etc, of capacity rules. It just didnt feel safe for us. Weโ€™d expected to simply lose the accommodation costs as we cancelled only a few days prior but the owner has been a star and weโ€™ve come to a deal to go in March/April. Bloody big uplift on the cost of rearranging the flights.

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