Rack & Brew

black gothic sporty choies knee highs otk platform boots
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

As coffee and clothes gain notoriety in town, RACK & BREW gets the best of both world by combining the two in the form of a two-storey local boutique café.

I embark on my second lifestyle adventure (read the first one here) with three old friends in the form of a High School Reunion, complete with good food and gossip, though I have to admit that three years of broken contact had me jumping with nervousness as I made my way towards Gadong, the district where the café is located.

But I needn't have worried because old flames never die; we hit it off like pebbles and friction, the familiar spark of high school spirits leading the conversation we had over the Western cuisine we opted for at Rack & Brew.

THE LOOK
A grunge casual look (bowler hat, sporty dress, thigh high socks) by The Mayden (May Cho)
The Mayden (May Cho) and friends in Rack & Brew
May Cho Xin Yin, The Mayden

The sun was raging at a 32*C high and I repeatedly told myself to not wear black 'lest I wished to be fried alive. My attempt to deviate from the heat-absorbing colour failed as I threw on an all black ensemble comprising a shift dress -- a sane choice, I reasoned, for my legs will have room to breath! -- and a pair of knee highs*, which is where everything fell out of place. I should have rethought that out as insulation was the last thing I needed.

For someone who lives in a country with just one season perpetually, I cannot dress to save my life.

THE CAFE

rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

As Reena asked for us to be shown to our seats under a reservation, we were pointed towards a corner section of the cafe where a large pane of glass oversaw the bustling district of Gadong and where the sunlight streamed in in perfectly Instagrammable streaks.

"Ah, yes, good lighting!" One of us exclaimed, voicing a thought our social media savvy group inevitably considered when entering the cafe.

The interior of Rack & Brew was -- contrary to a press statement describing the design as "minimalist" -- rustic, with hues of brown and textured edge suffusing the delightful ornaments in the place. There are two typewriters I see at first glance, both of which are accompanied by potted greeneries, a running theme intertwining Rack & Brew as well.

rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

Slews of wall decor -- a quirky metallic zeal of zebras, with one of them showing its posterior is one of my favourite -- lines the corner wall of the booth we were given. I took a liking to the pillows placed across the wall seats, too; with almost unnerving illustrations being filled in with interesting colour combinations, it was hard not to.

Lining the entire opposite wall of the cafe is a huge black board -- also a running decor option the Rack & Brew employs. The bakery corner displayed a delectable selection of cakes with mini blackboard signages scrawled with colorful chalks the name and price perched beside it. Blackboards also served as mini canvases for quotes, my personal favourite: "Life's too short for bad coffee."

rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

THE FOOD
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

With two of us hailing from countries abroad and returning home for a holiday visit, it was no surprise that the first thing we asked for was not our food, but the wi-fi password. We jokingly discussed our presence on Twitter as we ordered our food from the cafes menu, an interesting blend of Western and Malaysian cuisine, an offering said to have been inspired by the two owners' travel journeys.

Deirdre opted for the $18 Pan-fried Salmon, Nuha the $13 Chicken Crepe Lasagna, Reena the $18 Soft-shell Crab Florentine from the breakfast menu and I went for the $12 Mushroom Chicken.

Served in social media-ready and picturesque plating, the food is commendable, with the Florentine rich in flavours contributed by the poached eggs and crab, the Salmon's rich texture and the Crepe Lasagna layered in savoury chicken tomato sauce. The Mushroom Chicken fell slightly flat, though, with the mashed potatoes a little bit too dry and mediocre strips of chicken breasts a little too bland for my taste.

THE BOUTIQUE

rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

Making our way to the second floor after fumbling with taking the perfect outfit shots for at least half an hour, we step into the realm of racks, fulfilling the second part of Rack & Brew's concept, the one that notched the café a spot higher than the multitudes of hipster lifestyle cafés opening in town.

rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

With a dizzying array of fashionable apparels -- from cute little red dresses to crop tops and statement necklaces and printed playsuits, the café's racks house some of the most chic items in town. The interior of the boutique echoes that of its counterpart below; rustic, bare-floored, bare-walled and metallic.


rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique
rack and brew & brunei gadong lifestyle cafe boutique

Thumbing through the clothing racks and chattering excitedly over the trendy designs, it was another good half hour before we finally made our way out of Rack & Brew, full and window-shopping filled.

I knew it was only a matter of time before I made my way back to the café. After all, it's not everyday a place of coffee and clothes open up everyday.

***

TL;DR | One of the newest and few lifestyle cafés in town, serving both sweet and savoury food as well as a menu that caters to one's fashion cravings.

***

Rack & Brew is located at Unit 9, Block H, Abdul Razak Complex, Gadong.

Find Rack & Brew on Instagram and Facebook.

MAY X

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