Never underestimate things from rubbish for you might find gold in them. I told Gabby this while we walked our way towards Armenian Street in George Town after alighting the ferry from Jetty. The little-big boy, at first was puzzled until I simplified what it means.
I was surprised when our 7-year-old wonder boy is already familiar with the triple R -recycle, reduce, reuse. Apparently, his mom and teachers have been doing their duties wonderfully. Our casual father-and-son conversation became more meaningful when we spotted several used bath tubs now serving as plant boxes lining the street. Whoever thought of that must have been so environmental-friendly.
As Tina usually wants to spend her Sunday at home whenever possible (for she thinks and I also agree that she deserves a rest before she begins another work week), it was only Gabby and I who went out to the Island primarily to run some errands (we needed to go to a money changer to have our ringgits changed to pesos as we’re going home to Pinas for the holidays, we also had to buy some ingredients for Tina’s home cooked siomai and a few more pasalubongs for our relatives and lastly, I was asked by my lovely wife to bring her old denims for a change of zippers in a repair shop). However before doing all this, I decided to drop by AMELIE CAFE and grabbed the opportunity to expose my kid to something totally different.
Located in #6 Armenian Street beside a famous tourist spot, Cheah Si Sek Tek Tong that we have yet to explore some other time, AMELIE CAFE is a hole-in-the-wall cafe that serves quality Western food in the heart of George Town.
At first sight, one would not imagine that this tiny food place can provide a charmingly beautiful gastronomic experience. It actually looks like an ordinary carinderia outside, housed at the ground floor of a pre-war building except that its simple facade was made attractively beautiful by those lavish green potted plants and its unique hand-made sign boards express that there must be more than meets the eye.
Having been an expat for more than a year here in Penang, I completely know that this Malaysian state, particularly in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, George Town, offers diversities not only in race, religion and color but evidently in culinary department as well. Like mushrooms in the woods, hawker food stalls, restaurants and coffee shops are having healthy competitions despite they thrive side by side. Food in this part of Asia is more than substantial but a lucrative business too.
With the commercially available kedai kopi like Starbucks Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf including the popular local kopitiam and the like, AMELIE CAFE, in my honest opinion has greater advantage above all these giants.
It’s edge –the highly creative atmosphere out of recycled materials.
Take a peek at what we had enjoyed inside…
It’s like we entered a hole-in-the-wall eatery-slash-museum-slash-art-gallery. Amazing’s an understatement!
No corner was overlooked; even its humble ceiling deserves a glimpse.
On top of the door were tin plates displayed beneath those water plants (I’ve known them as celia as told by my old relatives; we have some at home in Butterworth cut from the jetty/ferry station) placed in old bottles of various branded fruit jams.
What’s great with all of these decors, I think they’re highly mobile as the owners can move them from one corner to the other making the interiors of Amelie Cafe uniquely different in a snap.
There’s only one ceiling fan without unusual look but nonetheless functional.
Must have that detail shot…
On the left side by the door is a table and this wall…
As we stepped inside Amelie Cafe, we found out that it only has 5 small tables filled with mostly foreigners dining their brunch. Fortune was on our side when we spotted an available table located at the end, just by the kitchen. No worries for Gabby and I because astonishingly, smoke from the frying pan is handled professionally. I didn’t mind being welcomed by the gentle wafting scent of the bacon at late morning; it was so welcoming actually!
The limited 5 tables with 3 to 4 stools each do not come in set. Even their plates, cups and saucers never look alike but when put together they contribute to ones’ fantastic dining experience.
The finish of the walls, floor and ceiling was not made perfect but it added to its enticing appeal.
We were greeted by Yen, one of the owners of Amelie Cafe. It’s only Yen and her husband, Hung run the entire show at their very quaint food place. The wonderful duo serve as wait staff, at the same time, do the preparation of food, do the cooking and tender the cashier counter and if chance permits, entertain their diners. Fantastic! I just failed to ask them if they have formal education in culinary or in related fields nevertheless, I think it’s no longer important as they’ve been managing everything at Amelie Cafe smoothly and successfully.
As Gabby and I sat down, Yen handed in the menu…
She told us, pointing with her thumb (the way Malaysians do it-not the common use of index finger or for us Pinoys, with a pouting lips, hehe!) to the uber artistic dessert menu board beneath the stairs.
After getting our orders, I asked if they have tandas (toilet), Hung pointed towards the back of the kitchen. The kitchen looks like this…
These are some of the artworks located above our table. Other than the use of recycled materials, did you notice the recurrent theme? Mother Nature must be super happy!
Humor in recycled art : Old wooden planks nailed side by side painted with fish spines and dog bone noted with “meow” combined with “oof oof !” ….Nice!
I believe the couple also did all those colorful pieces. And it looks like they’re also responsible designing the whimsical interiors of Amelie Cafe. How many businessmen do their work with complete hands-on?
With all those eye-catching things, waiting for our orders to be delivered and boredom inside Amelie Cafe didn’t become an issue. After 15 minutes, Gabby and I were already sharing these…
I gave him the liberty to go over the menu and choose whatever he wants. He selected carbonara, hazelnut chocolate parfait and chocolate banana milkshake. That was pure carbo-glucose fix!
After that candid shot, my boy asked me to dunk my fork and eat all those crispy cut bacon strips from the pasta because he doesn’t eat bacon and seldom he likes ham. Sure, I replied to him; I became easily submissive with his wish.
As Gabby continuously dreams of becoming a chef, a hotelier, restaurateur someday, I told him that putting up a carinderia as gorgeous and attractive as Amelie Cafe would do. Thinking of owning something like this is more than surreal!
Hazelnut parfait was a perfect ending to our mini-brunch. It came with fresh cranberries that Gabby wrongly thought of cherries. The pasta plate was also satisfyingly good, although minimal in serving and less creamy than usual–the taste actually made the difference. And the milkshake? Refreshingly delicious!
Honestly, the food doesn’t come that cheap compared to what you might expect. The price is comparable to Starbucks Coffee’s. A little more expensive than the common fast food joints. But hey, you don’t get all these visual treats from those commercial food places.
Then the moment of “must sample their coffee” dawn upon me…
The first sip of this cappuccino was for Tina. Yeehaa! I really wished she’s with us with this (another) extraordinary experience.
The table where we enjoyed everything…
Just before ending our meal at Amelie Cafe, Gabby told me that he liked everything he ate and appreciated all things he saw inside. Like me, he loved all the artworks, all the delightful clutter including the simple presence of that fish solitarily swimming in that old jar. The sense of recycling old things and turning them into great use rather than considering them as useless junks was reinstilled in his young mind. The
exposure brain-washing, I guess was successful!