The Alley, George Town, Penang
Located in a tiny little side lane, The Alley is set aside a bunch of local vendors; bikes; bits and pieces; motorbike repairs; a hawker stall and a joss stick shop. You’ll have to be alert to find The Alley as the boys who own the place have left up the frontal signage from the old shop lot they took over as a cool reminder of the past. We’re lucky to nab a park around the corner, but if you’re staying in George Town it’s a good idea to walk to avoid parking misadventures.
Design of The Alley is rustic, a little industrial and, fun. A polished cement floor and bar are complemented with black and white walls with comic designs by one of the owners. A row of Pestle & Mortar clothing is squished along the wall of the compact space seating a maximum of 20. There’s a small room out the back, petite tables in the front and, a covered patio at the entrance. Ceiling fans cool the outdoor space, so it’s quite hospitable in the evenings.
There are two specialties here – Coffee and Sweets. The menu is concise, and what they do, they do well.
Cheesecakes are made in house and we spy a guy in the back whipping up the next batch as we order. Lemon is the signature flavour and other versions change weekly at the inspiration of the chef. The day we visit Milo and Chocolate Caramel are in the chiller. We try the Lemon and find it wonderfully creamy, unbaked, so rich and velvety like super thick whipped cream with a light tingle of citrus. It’s adorned with a swirl of chocolate sauce, biscuit crumbs and caramelized almonds. The cheesecake needs no extras, but these little edible decorations are enthusiastically cleaned off the plate.
Churros with Dip (RM6 small, RM9 big) are fab! The chocolate dip is smooth and dark. Even when the churros have disappeared I continue spooning the sauce. The churros are long thin well-fried sticks of decadent dough. They’re slightly sticky on the inside and get our sweet approval.
|Churros with Dip|
Keeping up with the latest craze, Cronuts (RM8) are another saccharine option. Presented on a wooden board the cronut is a puffy specimen, shining gloriously in dark chocolate sauce. Again the pastry is well executed, fried perfectly and the edible adornment delectable.
Each dish is plated with the artistic inspiration of the moment, so don’t expect to see the exact arrangements as in these pictures. Apparently the gang at The Alley delight in scrolling through the Instagram roll at night to see which pictures have been posted and identify which of the team is responsible for each design.
Our sugar filled bodies need some liquid dilution so caffeine shy hubby takes the Pinky Guava Frappe (RM13). It’s a little creamy with a sour plum on top with some bits blended in too. It’s icy cold, not too sweet and an ideal beat-the-heat beverage.
I make up for hubby’s limited caffeine intake and have both the Cappuccino (RM9) and the Mocha (RM11). The cappuccino comes in old style ceramics with dark green flowers painted on the side. The foam is well textured and the coffee leaves a faint hint of sour at the end. All coffee is made with double ristretto on their medium to dark roast house blend. Instead of the regular biscotti accompaniment, a local sweet of ground peanuts and sugar wrapped in greaseproof paper paints it with local appeal.
The mocha is served in a cheery yellow cup and I appreciate the distinction in crockery. Again the milk is frothed thickly and a rich chocolaty flavour mixes nicely with the coffee.
Opened for only five months, The Alley is doing a thriving trade. The afternoon we visit there is a constant stream of customers and, although it’s smack in the middle of the tourist district, I’m told most guests are locals. Penangites know their food, so we think this is sure confirmation of greatness.
Reasons to visit: great coffee; luscious desserts; must eat house made cheesecake; good value with nett prices.
5 Stuart Lane
10200 George Town
+6 04 261 3879