Combining mutually-exclusive elements – like, for example, perky bosoms and gravity, politicians and modest incomes, Iggy Azalea and music – is a kamikaze exercise which invariably leads to mayhem, widespread destruction and loss of bladder control. But Leslie Gomez, daredevil founder and audacious Managing Director of The Olive Tree Group, relishes executing death-defying stunts, and so, while blindfolded, fearlessly mixed two dangerously reactive and patently incompatible lifestyle concepts – North Indian haute cuisine, and live rock music venue-cum sports bar. The result was indeed explosive – but in a show-stopping, launching-applauding-crowds-onto-their-feet kind of way: Rock Bottom Kitchen + Bar, located on the hallowed grounds of Bangsar’s Jalan Telawi 2.
Descending onto the local nightlife scene just weeks ago – in the manner of an overnight rockstar diving into a moshpit of newfound, adoring fans – Rock Bottom Bangsar is already a sensation, attracting jostling mobs of rowdy barhoppers, chichi gourmands, sports junkies, live band devotees, leg-stretching office workers and nightspot habitués (a riot of distinct groups which would otherwise never rub shoulders with each other). Setting fire to the notion that “you can’t cater to everyone”, Rock Bottom, The Olive Tree Group’s 9th F&B-cum-entertainment outlet homerun (its other trophy-winning establishments include Sutraa, Why Not and Public House Kitchen + Bar, as well as a Rock Bottom doppelgänger in Changkat Bukit Bintang) is tickling everyone’s fancy, like a BOSS.
A fulfillment of the Gods of Sports Bars’ commandment to create a sports bar ‘kaw’, Rock Bottom is practically a jock strap and protective cup. Tackling the décor and ambience ball from the typical ‘sports concept bar’ – and running with it off the pitch – Rock Bottom (an ironic moniker reflecting the outlet’s ‘rock’ music orientation, and its sworn duty to ensure that ‘bottoms’ are always up) is sports incarnate. Cinema screen-sized LED TVs, perpetually throbbing with sporting action, peer intensely from every conceivable angle; while remaining exposed surfaces wear the ‘kit’ of blonde wood paneling, which are instantly evocative of gymnasium dry saunas (where many a towel has slapped a post-game exposed bottom). Fleet-footed staff clad in sports jersey-like tops weave athletically between scatterings of deep-brown tables and high chairs, while random sports and bro-centric paraphernalia pose triumphantly on the walls.
The distinctive sections of Rock Bottom are arranged like a diagram of a football team formation, and include the roomy pool table alcove, the Bangsar breeze-buffetted alfresco dining area, the spiffy live band dais, several overstuffed-banquette corner booths, and the showcase gray marble-topped long bar. The outlet as a whole is a stadium for a squad of regularly-organised activities, including nightly live performances of original material by up-and-coming local bands, international DJ-helmed raves (a mirrored disco ball hangs sardonically near the stage), hardcore pool competitions, trivia and board game meets, and a kaleidoscope of theme nights with a bounty of special drink promotions. The only giveaway of Rock Bottom’s double identity as a fine dining establishment is its demurely sophisticated gourmet restaurant-inspired spot lighting scheme, and the volume of the piped-in 90s soft rock music, which is low enough to allow for conversation without the need for screaming as if you were passing a stone.
Barflies not keen on hoity-toity dining affairs will be chuffed to know that etiquette-optional finger food is complementary with all beer orders; while refined gourmands will be rapturous (in a restrained, elegant way) to learn that Rock Bottom’s dining menu is as fine as they come. Featuring a stunning beauty pageant parade of epicurean North Indian, European, Japanese and Fusion cuisines running the gourmet gamut of appetizers, soups, starters, main courses and desserts, the ‘gastropub’’s gastronomic choices are designed to make foodies weep.
After a good, heaving cry, I was unexpectedly treated by ferociously-hospitable Leslie to what was supposed to be a ‘sampling’ of Rock Bottom’s fare – but which morphed into a monstrously epic experience which got progressively more heavenly with each shirt button my distended belly popped.
My obscenely extravagant meal kicked off with a fusion dish utterly alien to my been-around-the-block palate: Smoked Salmon (with Tuna Mayo and Ebiko) sushi rolls, wrapped in Pan-seared Zucchini, instead of traditional seaweed. The rich flavours of the fresh, intensely succulent salmon; tongue-caressingly full-bodied mayonnaise; sweetly-explosive, juice-filled ebiko; and crunchy, yet luscious zucchini were extraordinary, and handily surpassed the sushi offerings of many a heavyweight champion Japanese restaurant.
Next was the memorably piquant, this-is-how-you-do-it Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil, followed with a flourish by the Chicken Lassani Tikka, which featured glimmering chunks of meat (possibly of divine origin) so expertly grilled and perfectly marinated that my palate went into shock. It was, wings down, the best Chicken Tikka I had ever indulged in – in a sports bar or anywhere else.
The magnificence continued with a welcome avalanche of main course dishes, comprising the zingy (and rather sassy!) Goan Prawn Curry; the Baroquely sumptuous Seafood Spaghetti Marinara; and the dazzlingly-plated, artfully-arranged, Disney princes-charming Crispy Skin Seabass served with Balsamic Cream Sauce, Rustic Potato, Sauteed Spinach and Ikura. Restraining myself from licking the plate clean, I reveled in the dish’s complex and highly-toothsome medley of flavours, and outrageously sexy combination of creamy, mushy, firm and crispy textures.
My unspeakable, haute cuisine depravity was capped by what turned out to be the most ravishing dish of the evening: Mutton Bryani (a la sports bar). Though less glitzy in appearance compared to the preceding scene-stealing, hoochie mama sensations, the Bryani delivered a flavoursome wallop to each of my – until that point, overly-satiated – taste buds. The long-grained rice was delightfully medium-firm, fluffy and saturated with richly spicy flavours, while the MVP of the dish – the mutton chunks – were insanely tender, eminently delectable, and sinfully satisfying. The unassuming-looking, but potent Rock Bottom creation scored an effortless goal that placed it in the pantheon of North Indian-style Bryani all-stars in KL’s competitive haute cuisine scene.
All in all, hitting rock bottom had never felt more uplifting.
Rock Bottom Kitchen + Bar
3 & 5, Jalan Telawi 2,
Bangsar Baru, 59100, KL
Tel: 03 2282 7241
Website: Rock Bottom Bangsar