Saturday, 11 January 2014

Restaurant: Uncle Albert's - Straits Quay, Tanjung Tokong (Top Pick)

Uncle Albert's is a newly opened restaurant at Straits Quay that specialises in traditional English style fish and chips.  Now there are those who seem to think that fish and chips is the only dish that British cooking is famed for, for me though, this belief merely demonstrates the EXTREMELY limited knowledge that the 'critic' or individual has about international cuisine, fine dining and catering in general, as is evidenced by the growing numbers of 1, 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in the UK and the increasing range of classical British dishes, especially those featuring 'game', appearing on the menus of fine dining restaurants world wide.  Note we are talking fine dining restaurants here, not food courts!  Anyway, I digress.  Back to Uncle Albert's! The restaurant is owned by the same group that own's the popular Healy Mac's Irish pubs both here and in KL.  As in KL, Uncle Albert's is actually located next door to Healy Mac's at Straits Quay.

As one might expect the focus of the menu is on fish which can be served to your liking with the top options being battered or grilled.  The restaurant does however have a rotisserie that allows it to cook very good roast chicken, available in portion, quarter or half bird sizes.  A wide range of salads is also on offer along with soups and deserts.  Of course the restaurant also serves a wide range of beverages including draught and bottled beer.  It's important to point out that prices on the menu here are net as opposed the prices that appear on most restaurants that are then subjected to the ++ taxes (totalling 16% upon paying the bill).  The restaurant also offers a fixed price set menu at lunch time of RM 26 which includes soup, a soft drink and the 'Catch of the day' fish dish or chicken, very very good value for money!

The restaurant is very nicely decorated and furnished and you can see into the kitchens through the large viewing window.  When the weather is suitable you can also opt to sit outside under the covered canopy which allows views across the marina and promenade.  The seating inside ranges from chairs around round tables or more private 'booth' style tables along one wall seating from 4-6 people (though 6 might be a bit cramped).

We opted to select dishes off the menu and went for battered fish and chips and a chicken roast dinner.

Starting with the fish and chips I have to say it was very very good.  The signature dish here is cod and chips and the restaurant prides itself in using fresh fish of only the highest quality.  This reflects somewhat in the price with cod and chips being a tad pricey at around RM 69.  I'm not the greatest fan of cod I have to say and opted for halibut at RM 32.  The fish was well cooked, nicely seasoned and the batter was just right, thin and crispy without having absorbed any oil.  One of the things really off-putting with fish and chips is when the batter absorbs so much oil you can taste it.  The chips were also excellent, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, a far cry from the thin 'burger-joint' style tasteless and (often) re-heated fries many places serve.  The dish was also served with some very nice minted mushy peas which were very tastily indeed, a little stiff and too dry for my liking (would probably have benefited either by not being 'cooked off' so much or by the addition of a little chicken stock).  The only thing I would be critical of with this dish was the rather bedraggled stem of greenery that seemed to serve no other purpose than garnish.  Albert's do yourselves a favour, lose it.  It adds NO visual appeal whatsoever (actually quite the contrary) and you sure wouldn't look to eat it.  If you must do the (somewhat overused these days and decidedly old school) cheffy garnish thing, a simple spring of parsley would look 20 times better!

The chicken dish was also very good.  Nicely roast chicken that retained its moisture and had a delicious crispy skin.  The carrots and peas were very nice and the stuffing very tasty, albeit it could probably stand some more onion.  The roast potatoes I have to say were just OK, but better than most I've tried in restaurants here.  But to be cooked well they need to be fresh, par boiled first, roughed at the edges by shaking in the pan and then roasted in a hot oven WITHOUT basting with oil to get that really crisp outside and fluffy interior.  The gravy I have to say though was outstanding!! Really tasty and with a good depth of flavour.

I was really impressed with Uncle Albert's and would have no hesitation in recommending it, so much so that it gets a 'Top Pick' award.  Inevitably it will be compared to another of my 'Top Picks', The Blue Reef Restaurant, also at Straits Quay and also serving the same style of food (except the chicken).  They are both good but differ in the way the dishes are presented, it would all be down to what you wanted on the day.  Albert's does have the chicken on offer and also that signature cod and chips, a little pricey but then you need to pay for quality.  Overall I don't think there's actually much in it price wise, aside from the signature dish which is merely an added bonus, it doesn't make the restaurant more pricey per se, and remember, those prices at Albert's are net!  About the only thing I'd like to see at the Straits Quay branch is the ability to order at least some of the dishes to be brought to be served at Healy Mac's, as you can in KL, for the times you fancy the meal in a pub environment.  Albert's is a great addition to the eateries at Straits Quay and well worth a visit and you can visit the Uncle Albert's Facebook Page here.

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