Grilled Goodness

Interesting decor in Johor Baru's Grill Bar
My phone rang and I answered a call from kak Mariam.  She soundly a little anxious and started with, “Hello Peggy, I’ve got a problem!”  My heart sank and I quickly asked, “How can I help?”  When I learnt what her “problem” was, I heaved a huge sigh of relieve.  She did not know where in JB to find halal steaks for her guests to enjoy!

I chuckled at her dilemma and did not hesitate to give her directions to Grill Bar and assured her that all meats served there are not only from halal sources but will be prepared to her satisfaction.  Mariam is a good cook and also enjoys being a good host to guests who (from what she told me), seemed to be connoisseurs of good food.  I reassured her that her guests would have a good time and encouraged her to make any specific food requests known to the helpful waitress.

It was a pity to destroy this American Onion Blossom!
The next day, I received a text message from Mariam that read, “Thank you so much, Peggy!  Everybody was happy.  The steak was grilled to perfection, the staff friendly and efficient.  The manager asked me how did I know of that place and I proudly said, Peggy Loh!  The only problem was the parking – had to pusing [turn] three times.  Anyway, worth it!  Thanks again.”

I couldn’t help smiling as I read her message that sounded typically like a happy Mariam.  I replied briefly, glad that they had a good experience and Mariam quickly returned with:  “You always make people happy.  Both shop owners and customers! God bless you.”

Check out the mushrooms and melted chees on
the bruschetta!  Yum!
It just feels good to know that my recommendation turned out well all around.  I believe a dining experience begins the moment you step into the restaurant and if the parking was also convenient, it will also contribute to the overall experience.  But just as Mariam and other regulars know, the pleasant dining experience in Grill Bar overshadows the issue of finding parking in that area, which is perpetually crowded!

As I quietly basked in the reflected glory, I’m pleased that the food and service at Grill Bar remains consistently good!  Since my first experience in 2011, I’ve been dining there with different people for lunch and dinner over the years and our experiences have always been pleasant.  It’s interesting that my guests end up feeling so impressed with the meal that they spontaneously offer their compliments to Chef Ozzy! 

A refreshing Garden Salad with special house dressing
So when my nephew Aaron was back from Australia for term holidays, I invited him for dinner at the Grill Bar.  Brought up watching the Food Channel on TV with his mother, this young man is a true connoisseur of good food and now living abroad as a student, he is creating his own recipes for meals.  Born with an adventurous palate, he enjoys eating in a host of good restaurants locally and abroad, and was thrilled to savour what JB has to offer.

When we stepped into Grill Bar, I noticed that the ambience felt slightly different since my previous visit because the décor and lighting was enhanced for a more comfortable and cosy feel.  For a week night, the restaurant was serving almost a full house and I was glad for Chef Ozzy because this place appears to be a preferred choice for many.  I did not make any reservation but was pleased when the waitress greeted me by name and led us to an available table.

A man-size Rack of Lamb for Aaron
She dragged a large chalk board over to introduce the day’s specials and left us to make our selections from either the board or the menu.  We conferred briefly over the choices and placed our orders – reassured that it will not be too much because we had Aaron to help us if any one could not finish our portion. 

By this time, word had reached Chef Ozzy that I was “in the house” and as I turned around, I spotted him in the kitchen through the glass panel – waving me a greeting – and I acknowledged with a wave! 

Check out the size of this vegetable portion!
Food was being served to tables around us and as I caught wafts of delicious flavours, my mouth started to water.  I was delighted when our American Onion Blossom appetizer arrived and even though it was a pity to destroy its pretty presentation, we dug into the batter-fried crispy layers with our fingers to savour its delightful taste with a dollop of creamy horseradish dip. 

The crispy bruschetta topped with generous portions of sliced mushrooms and melted cheese was just right while a small Garden Salad drizzled in a special house dressing was simply refreshing.

A generous portion of tender Lamb Shank on my pasta!
Our lamb and chicken main courses were, as expected, very satisfying but I found the portion of greens exceptionally big!  Instead of a meager pile of tiny florets tossed with carrots, ours was a single giant floret of broccoli that matched the size of the meat on each plate!  

I have no complaints about the generous portion but wondered if it was a special portion for me.  So I stole a surreptitious glance at the nearby tables and saw that this was the usual size of greens they served with other main courses! 

Even though my lamb shank pasta did not come with a side of greens, there was plenty from the others’ servings to share with me.  To put it very simply, the lamb shank pasta was simply sumptuous!  I finally found my kind of pasta where there were more ingredients – gorgeous tasting, tender pieces of lamb shank – than pasta!  Yum!  Once again Chef Ozzy delivered!

When Aaron declared he would like to go back to Grill Bar, it means a lot.  But he must wait for his next term break before dining there again.  As for me, I really don’t need much persuasion to go there again!  [It’s open every day except Tuesday.]


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