December Birthday

With so much festivities lined up in December, it’s always a challenge to find a mutually agreeable date for dinner.  But we manage to do so year after year because we have an annual tradition for a two-in-one celebration of Christmas and Wei Leng’s birthday on 21 December.  Like many December babies, Wei Leng graciously accepts her two-in-one gift because her birthday is so close to Christmas!

This year, I picked Grill Bar and planned the simple celebration with my friend, Gary Hong a. k. a. Chef Ozzy.  Sit-coms like “Cheers” made us appreciate places where “everybody knows your name” and for me, it felt like this at Grill Bar.  The moment I step through the door, the friendly waitresses greeted me with, “Good Evening Ms Peggy!”  Throughout the evening whenever they spoke to me, almost every line was politely punctuated with, “Ms Peggy!”  Wow!  This is truly personalized service!

Seafood soup with side of Ham Bruschetta
Their greetings was within earshot of other diners because I soon heard a young voice coming from the family dining at a nearby table say, “Auntie Peggy” and I turned to see young Ajay munching on a pile of plump fries.  What a pleasant surprise!  After a pause for warm greetings and well-wishing with his mum and family, I was ushered to our table but before turning into the private alcove, I spotted my feature on Grill Bar posted prominently on a pillar.

While we reviewed the menu, the hostess efficiently recommended the day’s Specials from a chalkboard.  After a bit of conferring, we settled on our own choice of soup with a salad, a pizza, pasta, a fish main course and a Special dish, all to share.  We are always greedy to try as many items but with limited space in our stomachs, sharing the meal is the most pleasing and rewarding solution.

Linda and Wei Leng chose their favourite Mushroom Soup while I picked the Seafood choice.  When the soups were served, I noticed that they were specially served with a side of Ham Bruschetta instead of the usual slices of buttered bread.  I appreciate Chef Ozzy’s kind gesture and realize that it’s my privilege to share such special treats with dear friends.

American flatbread with delicious duck topping
It was an indulgence to dig into the rich, thick taste of our Blue Cheese Salad and savour the pungent and distinctive flavours on crisp fresh vegetables, tiny halved tomatoes and crunchy walnuts.  Our pizza was more of an American flatbread, a wafer-thin base loaded with slivers of tasty duck and yummy fresh ingredients.  This certainly whet our appetite for the main course of Grilled Fish – a delicious dish of thick fillets of butter carp fish, swimming in a rich seafood bisque with a side of roasted new potatoes and a portion of crispy broccoli and tiny carrots.

Giant Angus meatballs with pasta
“No need to fight over it,” said Wei Leng with mock reassurance when the meatball pasta was served.  I understood when I counted six meatballs for an equal share of two each among us.  These are no ordinary meatballs but juicy, giant, flame-broiled Angus beef meatballs that are not only awesomely tasty but just two were ever so filling! Burp!

Having done justice to such a sumptuous meal, it was time to sit back and let the food settle before contemplating our sweet ending.  Chef Ozzy relieved us from the difficult decision for dessert because he had already made the choice for us.  Aware that we were probably up to our ears in food, the hostess brought us three spoons to share our dessert.

Linda [Left], Wei Leng [Right] and I at our annual celebration

Suddenly the soft Chrismassy piped-in music was interrupted by a group of melodious voices singing “Happy Birthday” to Wei Leng.  The waitress served a platter of Chocolate Lava with gooey chocolate oozing out of the split warm cake and a side of Vanilla ice-cream complete with flaming candles!  Wei Leng was clearly overwhelmed by the attention and when she spotted the personalized greeting that Chef Ozzy wrote on the side of the plate, she asked in jest, “Can I take the plate home?”

By then it was way pass the peak dining hour so Chef Ozzy popped out of the kitchen to mingle with guests and ended up sitting with us for a chat.  He is certainly one to watch because since I last met him, he has changed his hairstyle from a long-hair frizz into a neat close-shave with a distinctive mohawk!  I thought his creative persona is boldly reflected in his interesting hair and creative food presentations.

Chef Ozzy and I at Grill Bar
To encourage him to keep food standards and service quality consistent, we shared with him, our compliments and comments about our meal.  We were keen to come back again for more but he modestly told us that Grill Bar was already fully booked for private events over this festive season.  While it was a tad disappointing for us, this was really so good to know from a business point of view! 

It was late and the gentleman in Chef Ozzy, took time to walk us to my car to see us safely off.   It was a fitting end to a lovely celebration and like other satisfied customers who were waving “Goodnight” we agreed that it was great to celebrate the love of friends and family in a gracious place like the Grill Bar.  As we piled into the car, I remembered to check and was relieved that Wei Leng did not take that decorated plate home!

For this festive season, a menu of Magical Christmas Treats like Roast Turkey with Chestnut & Mushroom Stuffing, Wagyu Beef Stew in Hunter Sauce and Rosemary Rack of Lamb are among the items available for takeaways orders.  For enquires and orders, Tel: 607 – 3333 400.  Grill Bar, the American Bistro is at No. 202, Jalan Sri Pelangi, Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru. 


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