Western with a local touch

Barney's popular Cordon Gold

IT started with pizza served from the back of his father’s coffee-shop in Kluang Baru, Johor.

Twice-baked for soft insides and crispy edges, the pizza became so popular that Barnabas Lim Jit Tong soon opened a pizza outlet next door.

But he did not stop there and more and more western specialties were added to the menu. With culinary experiences from Switzerland and the United States combined with his Kluang coffee-shop roots, Lim, 39, is no stranger to good food.

When my family and I stepped into Barney’s recently, I was charmed by all the wood, particularly the glass-topped wooden tables that held various items within.  Each table had a different theme with photos and mementos collected from Lim’s travels, locally and abroad.

Good Food

As a tribute to Kluang’s agriculture-based heritage, local products are widely used in Barney’s menu of appetisers, soups, salads, pasta, entrees and desserts.  There’s a healthy and visually attractive red and white dragonfruit cocktail but I chose a tangy blend of red dragonfruit with passion fruit juice — it had bits of real fruit in it.

Refreshing Caesar Salad

The Caesar Salad, topped with tiny cubes of crunchy croutons, was very refreshing for hot afternoons. When I sank my teeth into a wedge of pizza served with generous toppings, I knew why they were so irresistible.

The pizzas were quickly being polished off but I managed to taste scrumptious wedges of beef pepperoni and chicken pineapple pizzas.

“The goodness is in the gravy,” said Lim as he served us a big dish of seafood aglio olio spaghetti.

He explained that prawns still in their shells, squid, fresh mussels and slices of fish were simmered together to create the succulent stock. Tantalised by the aroma, we shamelessly mopped up every drop of its tasty sauce!

Barney serving grilled tenderloin steaks

My fish ‘n chips was not served with the usual side of tartar sauce but it came with a special pineapple salsa sauce that I found amazingly agreeable.

Lim said that although fish ‘n chips, grilled lamb chops and tenderloin steak with black-pepper sauce were popular choices, Barney’s Cordon Gold had a strong following too.
This was made of chicken salami, cheese and pineapple wrapped in tender boneless chicken breast and deepfried to perfection before being sliced and served with salsa sauce.

There was somehow still room for dessert, so we shared Barney’s brownies with ice-cream, a light chocolate cake and classic tiramisu. The alternative smooth and piquant lemon cheesecake was also an absolute hit.

Special Treats

Brownie with ice-cream, chocolate cake and tiramisu
[Clockwise from top right]

Entrepreneur cook — that’s what Lim calls himself. While he has trained his staff to cook an interesting menu of Western cuisine with local flavours, he also enjoys mingling with guests. Regulars who are familiar with his specialties need only ask and he would happily slip into the kitchen to whip it up for them.

Lim understands that when most people come in for a Western meal, they want a special treat and a memorable celebration. So that’s what Barney’s customers are always assured of – good food and a great time!

Fast Facts

Barney’s catering service offers an eclectic menu of authentic Western, Malay and Chinese dishes and may include roasted whole lamb and “live” stations for pasta.

Located at 5 & 6 Jalan Yayasan, Kluang, Barney’s is open daily from 11.30am to 10pm. It’s closed on Monday. Call 07–774 4992. No pork products are used on the premises.

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 12 December 2009

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