Black Kettle

Special thanks to Black Kettle for extending this food review invitation.

Black Kettle is located at the corner of Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia). Spanning two shop units, this food establishment combines the roles of a bistro, a café and a pâtisserie under one roof.
Stepping into the restaurant, one is greeted by the spacious dining hall whose design incorporates black, white and wooden elements. According to the proprietor, the name "Black Kettle" is meant to reflect the role of this household item in preparing hot beverages during social gatherings.
The front-half of Black Kettle resembles a European-style bistro where people can mingle around in a relaxed setting. There is a lightwell to help illuminate the interior section of this massive dining hall. Against the wall below the lightwell is a hanging garden, providing some degree of greenery to the overall appearance of the bistro.
Further back, the restaurant is more family-oriented. Seating arrangements are inspired by modernist style with minimalist leanings. In conjunction with the upcoming Halloween (more information below), Black Kettle is decorated with spine-tingling trinkets like bats and spider webs.
At the helm of Black Kettle's kitchen are Chef Hung and Chef Willy. Between them are decades of culinary experience across the globe. Taking advantage of their international exposure, Black Kettle's latest menu places emphasis on modernist European cuisine, in many cases integrating ingredients from other cultures. Food ingredients such as sauces and stocks are prepared from scratch, therefore eliminating the use of artificial preservatives and flavoring (MSG).
The first dish is Moroccan Lamb Stew (RM38.00), inspired by lamb tajine (ⵜⴰⵊⵉⵏ) in Berber cuisine. Although lamb is traditionally cooked in an earth pot (also known as a tajine), Black Kettle takes the sous-vide approach. Not only does sous-vide cooking produce consistent results, it also allows the lamb to maintain its form without disintegrating after prolonged heating.
The lamb shoulder is flavored with spicy-savory gravy made from lamb stock and a myriad of Mediterranean spices. The gravy also contains baby potatoes, carrots and dried apricots. Also included is Moroccan flat bread called khubz (خبز‎‎). Khubz is usually round in shape, but Black Kettle prepares it in rectangular form.

Finnish Salmon (RM38.00) is my favorite dish today. This dish is inspired Lohikeitto, a popular breakfast dish which Chef Hung learned during his visit to Finland. The original recipe calls for flaked salmon, but Black Kettle keeps the salmon in fillet form using sous-vide technique.
The salmon is scrumptious in its own right, but I think the true appeal of this dish lies in the savory broth. Stewed for days and infused with milk towards the end, the broth is extremely gratifying to the very last drop. Baby potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers and leek provide additional facets to this dish, while edible flowers and microgreens are used as garnish. I cannot recommend this dish highly enough.

Black Kettle's pasta menu is also quite developed. Black Sea Scrolls (RM36.00) is one of the more prominent ones. Unlike the one that I tried at Royal Winter Warmers, this dishes uses regular egg spaghetti which is then coated with freshly-cooked squid ink sauce. The distinctive taste of squid ink is unmistakable; the real question is whether it strikes a chord with one's palate.
Black Sea Scrolls is served with mussels, shrimps and squid. Seafood is very fresh, as evidenced by their delectable juiciness. Like the prior dish, garnishing is accomplished by using edible flowers and microgreens. In addition to that, beetroot cream is used to provide aesthetic appeal to this otherwise dull-looking dish.

Black Kettle's food menu also caters the dietary needs of vegetarians. Among the handful of meatless dishes in the latest menu, Mushroom Cheeseburger (RM28.00) stands out most prominently. The "patty" is actually made from wild mushrooms which have been minced and seasoned accordingly. Thanks to the use of genuine mushrooms, the aroma of the burger teases my nostrils in a delightful manner.
The burger contains cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickled gherkin - all working closely as counterbalance to the mushroom patty. Sandwiching all ingredients are two halves of a soft bun, which is also baked in-house. French fries are served on the side.

At Black Kettle, coffee beans are sourced from Dimattina Coffee, a reputable Australian roaster with a reasonably wide range of coffee blends. In particular, medium-dark roast is used. Known as "Gusto Oro", the blend is a combination of 4 single-origin beans from Latin American and India. As demonstrated in the cup of Caffè Mocha (RM11.00), Dimattina Coffee's espresso is bold in flavor and has subtle nutty overtones.
The pâtisserie section of Black Kettle revolves around European pastry and bread, particularly German and Nordic ones. There are approximately 70 types of pastry, bread and cakes at any given point in time.
Confectionery is prepared in-house and is baked twice each day to maintain absolute freshness. In fact, customers who prefer lighter meals in the morning are encouraged to "shop" for bread in the pâtisserie section.
My meal concludes with a dessert: Chocolate Truffle Cake (RM15.00). This mousse-like chocolate cake is infused with a small amount of rum, accentuating the bitter-sweetness of rich cocoa. The top surface of the cake is covered by fine cocoa powder in a similar manner as tiramisu.
Black Kettle is running a seasonal dinner menu in the spirit of Halloween. The Gravekeeper's Set (RM59.00), as it is called, is available from 11 October 2016 to 31 October 2016. Comprising of gazpacho, main dish and panna cotta dessert, this 3-course meal comes with a complimentary glass of wine.

The opening gazpacho dish is called "River Styx" in reference to the underworld river in Greek mythology. When served, hot water is poured over dry ice on the saucer. This causes dry ice to sublimate immediately. Since carbon dioxide (CO2) is denser than air, the mist lingers near the surface of the table and produces "spooky" appearance.
This chilled vegetable soup is popular in the Iberian Peninsula especially during the warm summer months. Black Kettle's recipe involves ingredients like crab meat, tomato and watermelon. Fresh vegetables are strained and blended together to produce an emulsion of pulpy consistency. Sharp spiciness at the finale of each sip is attributed to chipotle (dried jalapeño). Green apple slices provide some degree of fruity crunchiness.
The upper floor of Black Kettle is not used for dining, but is available for hosting seminars and workshops. With 4,000 square feet floor space, this spacious section can accommodate up to 300 people at a time. I am amazed that the flooring and woodwork are original. This is in spite of the fact that the building is nearly a century old!

Name: Black Kettle
Address: 105, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-251-9270
Business hours: 8:30am-12:00am
Coordinates: 5.41539 N, 100.33977 E
Directions: Black Kettle is located at the intersection of Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia). Street parking is available along both streets.