Just Caffe, George Town, Penang

It’s hot in Penang, really hot, so why not take a stroll to the Esplanade and enjoy a bit of sea breeze,  If it’s a clear day you might even get a good view across to the mainland and around to Straits Quay and Tanjung Tokong.

Esplanade George Town Penang, Fishing at the Esplanade, GeorgetownCatch of the day on the Esplanade waterfront

 Anywhere in Georgetown is really only a short walk, so you can get to the Esplanade (Padang) easily on foot. From Komtar it would take a maximum of 25 mins.

It’s an interesting area. On one side of the Esplanade you have Fort Cornwallis and although it’s not the oldest fort in Malaysia it is still pretty impressive. When Francis Light took control of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah in 1786 the fort was built to protect Penang from invading Pirates, from Kedah, and the French.
It was actually never used for this purpose and was mainly an administrative office for the Island.

A lighthouse in the shape of a ships mast was built at the fort in 1882, but similarly it served no navigational purpose. In 1804 the fort was updated in brick and stone from it’s original nibong (palm) construction and in 1920 it’s 9 metre wide moat was filled in due to a severe outbreak of malaria.

Lighthouse Fort Cornwallis Penang,ships Mast Lighthouse Fort Cornwallis Penang

Today the fort is a tourist attraction and has recently been privatized. Just inside the fort is a statue said to be the figure of Francis Light. In actual fact it is really William, his son. Since no painting of Francis was ever found, the closest likeness was that of William, who, like his Dad, was also a pretty amazing guy considering that amongst other things he founded and designed the City of Adelaide, now a sister city to Penang.

Cannon Fort Cornwallis Penang, Seri Rambai Cannon PenangThe Seri Rambai Cannon at Fort Cornwallis

To be honest, there’s not a lot to see in the fort. A cannon, Seri Rambai cast in 1603, takes pride of place on a corner of one wall. This has quite a reputation for helping barren women to become pregnant, if they sit on it and wish for a child! There’s a bit more of a story about the way it eventually ended up in Georgetown but otherwise it’s just a Cannon. In one part of the grounds is an ammunition magazine and in another area is an old chapel where the widow of Francis Light is said to have married her second husband, John Timmers.

Martina Rozells married John TimmersThe Fort Chapel where Martina Rozells married John Timmers

Recently a restaurant has been built inside the fort which as yet we haven’t tried for the simple reason that it now costs RM 20 for tourists, (up in price this year from RM1) to enter the fort, even if you just want to eat at the restaurant. Okay, they apparently give you RM10 back on displaying your receipt if you spend over RM20 on your meal, but since we have already visited the fort dozens of times in the past I really don’t feel like paying RM 10 each for the priviledge of eating, especially when I can’t even check out the menu at the entrance to the fort. More of a matter of principle than the cost.

Fort Cornwallis wall of stone & brick Cannons positioned on the wall of the Fort, but never fired.

On the other side of the Padang you will find the recently re- painted and very colonial Town & City Halls. The Town Hall, closest to the main road was completed in 1883 and was largely used for entertainment. It had a full size ballroom, an assembly room and a library.

Town Hall George Town Penang, Esplanade Town Hall PenangThe Town Hall Penang

The City Hall, closest to the sea, gained its name in 1957 when Penang was granted City Status. It is well known as the first building in the state to have electric light bulbs.
This beautiful Victorian building built in 1903 continues to be the administrative department for the whole of Penang Island.

City Hall Esplanade George Town, City Hall Penang Administrative OfficesThe City Hall, Penang

Around the corner from the Town Hall & facing Light St is The Dewan Sri Penang. Here is the main concert hall/ theatre for Georgetown where most of the top shows are staged, especially during the month long Georgetown Festival.
On the same side as the DSP but one street further on you will find Jalan Green Hall. Nearly at the bottom of this street on the right you will see Just Caffe. Don’t try finding it on a Saturday or Sunday. They’ll be closed.  They are open every other day between 8.30- 5.30pm.

Just Caffe Panini and Pesto PastaJust Caffe owners Kelvin & Kirsten

If you would like a touch of local culture then instead of walking along Light St to get to Green Hall follow the path along the water front past the City Hall. Stay close to the beach wall and keep going. You will pass a fairly large Malay food court on your left. After this you will cross a small bridge and continue over a very broken path. Watch your footing here as recent stormy weather and strong waves has broken up the path and it is a bit wobbly and uneven in parts. Most days here the locals enjoy catching a few fish. Be mindful of their fishing lines along the path.

Local food court on ethe Esplanade George TownThere are steps into Jalan Green Hall just about where the man with the white socks is sitting

Keep going until you see a small street food area covered with umbrellas. In the centre of the wall there is a set of steps. Duck your head as you go over the wall. There’s usually a canopy at about neck height. Walk through the stalls into the street. This is Green Hall. A few paces, and you will see Just Caffe on your left. There are tables, chairs and plants outside. You can’t miss it.

Just Caffe Outside eating areaThe Garden area at the front of Just Caffe

When you have found Just Caffe and if you appreciate good food, do sit for a while and enjoy. This is a super cool & relaxed cafe. The menu isn’t huge by any means but what they do have, they do very well and will have you coming back for more.

If you like panini then this is the best in town. Various flavours are on offer. The Patient Partners favourite is the Green Hall Guru. Loaded with chicken, cheese, greens, and a curry aioli, it’s simply exploding with flavour.
Mine is the Veggie Lovers panini with cheese, capsicum, basil pesto and aioli. The bread is so fresh and toasted to crunchy perfection.

Just Caffe Guru Panina, Exploding with flavour,The Green Hall Guru Panini with Spicy Cajun Fries on the side and a Tomato Dipping Sauce

Panini with vegetables, pesto and cheeseThe Veggie Lovers Panini

I find it difficult each time we go there to choose between the panini and the pesto pasta. Both taste equally delicious. Basil pesto has to be one of my all time favourites. I could eat it daily if my quirky stomach could handle the garlic. At home I now make a walnut & basil pesto and use asafoetida, a pungent Indian spice that smells and tastes like onion & garlic and brilliantly tricks the taste buds into thinking its the real deal!

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Olives & ParmesanA favourite of the Caffe,  the delicious Pesto Pasta

The basil pesto pasta at Just Caffe comes with slithers of chicken and a very generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and black olives.
There is often a beef stew to keep those red meat eaters happy and another Pasta with meatballs of either beef or chicken.
Cajun fries are a great side addition to the paninis or just something a little lighter for a snack.

Cinnamon Scrolls at Just Caffe,Cinnamon Rolls at Just Caffe PenangThe Best Cinnamon Scrolls in Penang

Make sure you leave plenty of space for dessert, all of which are superb. The cinnamon scrolls are literally to die for, not to mention the melt in the mouth Dutch biscuit. We love these so much that at times we have put in special orders to take home and share with friends ( that’s of course if the PP doesn’t eat them all first!!)  Kirsten’s cakes are all homemade so you can never be sure what will be the bake of the day, but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed whatever the choice.

Just Caffe Chocolate CakeJust Caffe Chocolate Cake with extra rich chocolate ganache

I can’t stress enough how good the food is here but what makes it super special is the staff. The friendly, efficient and relaxed attitude of owners Kirsten and Kelvin make it a welcoming space to enjoy either a quick coffee & cake, a long lunch with friends or the chance to catch up on some study. ( the Segi College is just across the street). If their aim is to please their customers and make them feel welcome then that’s exactly what they do.

Happy Customers at Just Caffe Green Hall PenangJust Caffe, a perfect place to catch up with friends.

Coffee at Just Caffe is consistently good and a glass of their homemade lemonade or Italian soda is a welcome and refreshing drink after the hot but interesting walk to find one of the best lunch spots in Penang.

Cake & Coffee at Just Caffe PenangCoffee & Chocolate Cake. What better way to start or end a day!!

Open from 8.30-5.30 Mon – Fri.
Address. 52, Jalan Green Hall. George Town, Penang

Ferringhi Coffee Garden, Penang

Living in Australia we are well used to travelling huge distances. Whether it be to visit family, go to a market, see a show, go to the beach or anything for that matter, spending an hour or two or three or more in our car to get there is not a problem.
So sitting for 45 mins on a bus from the centre of George Town to the touristy area of Batu Ferringhi just to have lunch is pretty normal stuff for us.
Some would wonder why we’d do this especially when there is no shortage of food on the streets of George Town.

It’s simple. The Ferringhi Coffee Garden is only in Batu Ferringhi .
It’s also just as well that we had no idea how good it was when we were actually living in Batu Ferringhi or we would have broken our budget well before it was time to return to Oz.!! Now we go there as often as is possible. Making up for lost time.

Garden Area at ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu Ferringhi, Orchids at Ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu ferringhiThe partially covered Garden Area At Ferringhi Coffee Garden

Ferringhi Garden is a high end restaurant. One side of it is fine dining. The menu definitely dictates the price. I haven’t eaten there, but I’ve read the reviews and they are all very complimentary.

On the right side of the restaurant looking from the road is their all day dining venue, The Ferringhi Coffee Garden. Considering my love of the bean, anywhere now that happens to have ‘coffee’ in it’s name sparks my interest and that is how we discovered this gem of a cafe.

Step inside and you will be dazzled by its beauty. Apart from the greenery that lines the walls there are the most stunning orchids everywhere you look. The flowers are so perfect that they could almost be plastic. They have to be touched for you to believe that they are truly real.

Almost plastic orchids,Ferringhi Garden Batu Ferringhi, Penang National Park, Pantai Kerachut PenangSo many stunning Orchids

On each table is a vase of flowers. The last time we were there they were exquisitely coloured pitcher plants. I believe that these co-exist and thrive in an area where there are orchids. No wonder they looked so healthy.

Carnivorous plants, pitcher plants, Ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu FerringhiThe Cafe is full of amazing Pitcher Plants

We always choose to sit outside in the garden area so we can feel the lush vegetation around us. Living in George Town, where we co-exist with nothing but buildings it is a treat to escape the concrete jungle occasionally and breathe in some good clean green Oxygen.

Garden at Ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu Ferringhi Penang Following a trek in the National Park it seemed as though we had came out of one jungle and into another!!

The garden is partially covered so there is shade from the sun, there are fans and some minimal protection from the rain. If you prefer aircon and no sun then you might prefer the pleasant inside area.

We are immediately welcomed by the cafe waiting staff.  They are friendly, polite and professional. Some of them also work in the fine dining restaurant at night, so the customer service is excellent.

Their menu is full of options. It’s too hard to choose. I can only hope that we can return enough times to try everything.

Ferringhi Coffee Garden Menu, All day dining menu Ferringhi Coffee Garden arAll day dining menu with plenty of choices

I love taking our friends to this cafe. Not only do we enjoy a great social lunch but it’s a chance to check out what everyone has chosen to eat. That way I have a better idea of what to eat next time!! I also get to take more pics for my blog post!!

A few weeks ago we did a jungle hike in the National Park at Teluk Bahang. A relatively easy walk ( with quite a few large steps which might make it difficult for anyone with severe knee problems) , but well worth the trip. Taking this hike, rather than the one to Monkey Beach we were able to see the meromictic lake and the turtle hatchery. We spent some time enjoying the pristine beauty around us and  the smell of the sea air before catching a local boat back to the Park Headquarters.

Local Boat from Pantai Kerachut, boatman at penang National ParkHire a boat at the start of your hike from the Park Headquarters

Pristine Beach at Pantai Kerachut,Penang National Park,Smallest national Park in AsiaPristine beaches at Penangs’ small but beautiful National Park

Meromictic Lake Penang national Park, Smallest National ParkThe Meromictic Lake where different layers of water never mix.

Turtle Hatchery Pantai Kerachut Penang National Park MalaysiaBaby Turtles just born at the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Hatchery

By this time we were pretty hungry and what better way to look after our grumbling stomachs than a lunch at Ferringhi Coffee Garden.
We caught the bus from the park into Batu Ferringhi, just a short trip, providing the bus driver doesn’t leave you sitting in the bus while he says his prayers at the local Mosque!! But that’s okay. It’s a chance to have a bit of a snooze after the hike.

Pantai Kerachut Jungle Hike, Penang National Park,Easy hiking on the jungle track to Pantai Kerachut

This particular day we all ate different things. Great for my pics!!
Not only did our meals all arrive at the same time ( although the PP and I are used to this at Coffee Garden it is not a common occurrence in Malaysia and our friends were suitably impressed!!)
There’s nothing worse than your partner getting his meal first and finishing it before yours even arrives and then sitting there like a spare part while you hurry to finish so he can eat dessert or have a coffee!!)

Below are pics and descriptions of our meals. We were all full of praise for the chef. The meals were incredibly tasty and beautifully presented.

Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon at Ferringhi Coffee GardenEggs Benedict with  smoked salmon on a light English muffin The Hollandaise sauce was tasty & smooth and the eggs poached to perfection.

Chicken pie Upside Down at Ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu Ferringhi PenangUpside Down Chicken Pie. Chicken, vegetables and a poached egg nestled above a flaky layer of puff pastry. A favourite of my Patient Partner

Salmon Pizza Ferringhi Coffee Garden, Batu Ferringhi best pizza, thin base on salmon pizza Ferringhi Coffee Garden PenangSmoked Salmon & Prawn Pizza with a superbly thin base and crispy crust

Salmon pesto and poached egg on potato mash, Ferringhi Coffee Garden Batu Ferringhi PenangMy favourite dish. Salmon, pesto and poached egg on a potato mash surrounded with crisp bread croutons, greens, tomato salsa & a drizzle of beetroot puree.

The table settings have class. Double insulated coffee glasses from Bodum, cutlery that is heavy, feels good and sits comfortably in the hand. Milk is served in a cute white porcelain cow and dainty scones are served along with jam and really real fresh cream on a wooden platter.
These are little things that add to the ambience of a restaurant or cafe and complete an exceptional dining experience.
But none of these matter without exceptionally good food.
I believe that Ferringhi Garden Restaurant and Ferringhi Coffee Garden have both of these.

Coffee at Ferringhi Coffee Garden, cow milk jug, bodum glass Ferringhi Coffee Garden, Batu Ferringhi RestaurantsGreat ambiance, wonderful meals, beautiful flowers, great company. What more could we ask for!!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the hi-tech bathroom!!