The Warehouse Gallery in Kuala Lumpur
Art gallery, bar and steakhouse in Chinatown
Housed in a colonial-style, 100 year old former textiles warehouse in Chinatown, The Warehouse is a hip and quirky art gallery with a café, bar and restaurant (Ril’s Steakhouse) attached to it. During the day, at the small Café Art, you can have a light breakfast, lunch or just cakes, play board games or just take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. One of its quirky features is serving drinks with artistic flourish – like a cappuccino that is served with an impression of US President Barack Obama done in the foam.
Sri Mahamariamman (the oldest Hindu temple in KL) sits directly opposite The Warehouse, while Sze Ya Temple (the oldest Chinese temple in the city) is just a few doors down.
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At first glance the place looks a little worn-out, with concrete floors, exposed piping, antique ceiling beams, terracotta tiles and pillars with chipped plaster (exposing bare bricks underneath). But then you notice the mismatched furniture – Renaissance-style couches, paint-splashed garden chairs and tables, colourful cushions on the floor, woven rattan chairs, bucket sofas and fairy lights twined around the bar counter – and the place takes on a whimsical Wonderland feel.
The gallery, which has a series of rotating exhibits by modern local and regional artists, plays 90s indie rock music such as Radiohead and Collective Soul. Highlighted by spotlights, each gorgeous painting spruces up the walls and instantly grabs your attention: when we visited we especially liked the canary-yellow mannequin with a bronze, octopus-like art installation on its neck – it gave the place a peculiar touch.
The loft-like studio has a very ‘hidden away’ feel to it but it really comes to life at night when the humble-looking Bar Art opens: besides beers there are some pretty amazing, reasonably-priced cocktails, like the classic martini.
The bar is known for hosting themed events like ‘Open-Mic Nite’ on Wednesdays, when local bands or artists perform, and ‘Occupy Thursdays’, when the place invites guest bartenders to mix up the drinks menu by creating unique cocktails. On Saturday, the gallery provides patrons with canvas and paints, encouraging you to let your inner artist loose: it is a very fun experience, sipping a margarita and splashing paint on a blank canvas.
A set of straight metal stairs leads to Ril’s Steakhouse on the top floor. The menu is western with heavy emphasis on steaks (we recommend the 1.5kg porterhouse to share – ours came seared, crusty black on the outside, with tender and juicy meat that simply melted in our mouths). Aside from that the kitchen does scallops really well and we love the double-baked potato royale.
In comparison to the industrialised space downstairs, Ril’s Steakhouse is an elegant, friendly fine-dining venue. Three enormous picture windows provide views of the Chinatown streets and dim lights, a slanting 30ft ceiling, leather Chesterfield booths, high back chairs and raw industrial accents gives the place an intimate, sexy feel. There is a second outlet in Bangsar with a 1920s-style lounge and the same extensive menu.
The Warehouse Kuala Lumpur
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 1:00 Tuesday – Sunday
- Location: Chinatown
- Address: 198 Jalan Tun HS Lee, KL.
- Tel: +603 2022 0528