20 May 2013

Falling victim to progress?

Most of the time, I'm all for progress.  We have to move forward, or else we stagnate.  But sometimes progress is not a good thing.

You may remember me writing about the Coliseum Cafe about 18 months ago - the original post is here.

It's a KL institution, and used to have a real old-fashioned feel about it. Now, sadly, not so much - progress has stepped in and is stripping it of its character.

When I first visited, I was told the place had new owners, but at that time they certainly hadn't made any visible impact on the old place.  The paintwork was tired at best.  The tables and chairs didn't match.  You used to have to switch the chairs around to find one that you could feel reasonably confident would hold your weight for the entire meal, or at least one that was relatively comfy.  If you were really lucky, you'd find one that met these criteria, and didn't have foam spilling drunkenly out of a slit in the faux-leather seats.

Now, you might think that, in this case, a bit of progress would be a good thing.  But it hasn't been.  Presumably under the new ownership, the place has been re-decorated - well, painted in the same shades of hint-of-nicotine and cover-all-stains mud brown - but the paint is no longer chipped or going ombre-style from light to dark as it goes from floor to ceiling.

The tables and chairs have been replaced.  They're still not going to fit in at the Savoy, but they all match.  And so the place just doesn't look the same.

The tables also have a very modern addition - a CIMB (a local bank) promotion, looking really quite incongruous in this setting, but also bringing it firmly into this century.

Perhaps saddest of all, the food has gone from good to average.  The spring rolls used to have their own unique taste.  I was told this was the white radish they used, I actually think it had more to do with old cooking oil!  Whatever - that taste has now gone.  

And so this Saturday we departed sadly from the Coliseum, feeling that, in many ways, it was the beginning of the end of an era for the cafe.  If much more progress is imposed on it, it will simply become just another cafe, rather than the KL institution it has been for over 90 years.