Our longer-than-expected wait for Grinder to open finally grinds to a halt; it’s another suburban spot with a measure of promise on the Damansara Kim shophouse street that’s home to Kompassion & The Kitchen Table.

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Grinder’s appearance fits what cafe-hoppers have come to expect from residential neighbourhood nooks, professionally put together to straddle the line between casual & chic. As a bonus, local artists can have their work exhibited for free on the walls. Service is efficient without being effusive, but there’s an easygoing vibe that could make this place a favourite for many patrons. The food here makes for a pleasant lunch, particularly since prices fall within a reasonable range.

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Traditional French Onion Soup

Grinder’s kitchen opens for lunch & dinner; the menu takes the ‘less is more’ route in terms of diversity but it’s encouragingly distinctive, steering clear of the Klang Valley’s current cafe cliches with an unexpectedly French-influenced repertoire, which includes this enjoyable traditional onion soup (RM10).

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We’d have liked a more convincing dressing for this salad & a less barely-there rationing of toasted walnuts, but the choice of leaves was a nice one & the crunchy croutons topped with creamy brie & honey were tasty. RM14.

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Croque Monsieur

Love Grinder’s take on the croque monsieur (RM17); perfect to curb carb cravings, thanks to thick, fluffy slices of grilled bread made flavourful with tender chicken & cheese. But the roast potatoes on the side tasted like limp leftovers, even if they weren’t.

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Duck Confit

Duck confit plays a significant role at Grinder; you’ll see it in a salad & sometimes with pasta here, but the more unusual preparation might be these wonton-like crispy dumplings stuffed with duck & served with a choice of orange reduction sauce, sour cream with chives, or sweet chilli (customers can only have one sauce with each order). RM7.

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Plenty of escargots in this linguine with crushed cashew-broccoli pesto sauce (RM23, or RM17 without the canned snails). It’s a recipe with a rustic, nearly home-made feel. Sauces are made from scratch at Grinder, which emphasises healthier ingredients.

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Penne Arrabiata

Penne arrabiata with prawns in a well-balanced, lightly spicy sauce made with San Marzano plum tomatoes, chilli peppers & garlic (RM26, or RM17 without the five-or-so prawns). Decent bet for a light lunch.

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Desserts are obtained from other suppliers; we liked the moist chocolate cake with a hint of Earl Grey & a raspberry coulis topping, while the salted caramel macaron was worthwhile too.

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For now, Grinder’s food is better than its beverages (unexpectedly so, since the cafe’s name is meant to evoke coffee beans); the latte (RM10) needs work, the presence of the milk steamer with dark chocolate pieces (RM12) could be reconsidered & the pink grapefruit soda might not warrant forking out RM9. But we’re optimistic that everything will improve in the months to come.

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Location and Contact Details

Grinder Cafe

45, SS20/11, Damansara Kim, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Open Tues-Sun, 10am-10pm (with kitchen closed between lunch & dinner).

Tel: 03-7732-4689

View Grinder Cafe’s directory page here.

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