Yes, that is the name of this wonderful surprise I stumbled upon a couple of weeks back. With its minimalist decor and oh-too-hipster vibe emanating from within, I wondered if my get-up (pink-checkered shirt with matching hat) would be a little too colourful for the slick and chic crowd shuffling inside. But who could resist not entering?
Before I jump into BRATS, allow me a quick digression on what’s been happening the past week. As you all know, my MacBook is currently being serviced so it has been a grievous past few days working with my company laptop and its infuriating trackpad that’s more capricious than I am. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because I at least still have another laptop to work with and that I’ve managed to transfer most of the crucial data I need to continue my work, but oh the thought of being unable to edit on a MacBook for at least a couple more weeks is distressing. The colours of my photographs aren’t what they are when viewed on a different screen, so I find myself deliberating at length whether I should even post them up.
That said, a friend of mine has kindly offered his MacBook to me during the weekends, and I could temporarily use it to upload photos, add watermarks, then upload them up to the blog; hence, the usual ‘complete’ product you see up there. Big shout out to Zack (said friend) who has been incredibly supportive and who so willingly allowed me to borrow his laptop. Also, I am aware that I am a day late with this and I’m actually typing this out at three in the morning, but now that I have this arrangement with Zack, my next post this weekend should be up just as you’re smelling your coffee on a Sunday morning. Well, depending on which part of the world you live in that is.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it is back to BRATS.
Only two weeks old when I made the visit, I was secretly glad I discovered the place before eagle-eyed food critics penned their comments online. Their menu is remarkably simple, serving mainly hot dogs, some sides, and beer, though with the noticeable absence of caffeinated options, which prevents me from labelling BRATS as a café just yet.
Their gourmet hot dogs were fabulous too; though a little pricey for a sausage in a bun, I’d come back just to sample their entire list. I went for their mango and jalapeño as it looked the most interesting of the lot, and it sure didn’t disappoint with the additional caramelised onions on top.
While BRATS have not begun brewing coffee at their establishment, I was fortunate enough to explore it on the same day a buck-toothed coffee connoisseur set up shop within the premises. His name is Wei Xiong, and when he’s not brewing coffee for friends and family, he’s busy photographing newlyweds in Melbourne. An incredibly friendly chap with a gorgeous Instagram feed (look up @twofrontteeth), Wei Xiong is friends with the founder of BRATS and made arrangements to serve specialty coffee he’s brought over from down under within the premises.
We spent an hour or so talking about coffee and photography as he hastily brewed batch after batch of coffee to customers while I took the occasional sip from my fragrant and mildly acidic Ethiopian (or was it a Kenyan?).
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to be able to sit down and have a pleasant conversation with someone new. I’ve always found it awkward having to initiate a conversation within such a setting unless I’m in a position to do so (e.g. I’m reviewing the place). I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with it having had plenty of practice of just putting on my journalistic persona, but there’s always that unexplained initial hesitation I associate with shy little children who hide behind their mothers that consume me before I step forward and greet with that first “hello”. Perhaps it’s the bane of having worked in a corporate setting for too long: I don’t feel as comfortable in my own skin anymore. That outgoing person who’s always the loudest in the group has been reduced to a meek lamb who fumbles his words through any argument.
I learn from Wei Xiong that he’s back for a friend’s wedding, and so decided to throw in a three week holiday just to hang around the country he used to call home. We then talked about how the appreciation for coffee in Melbourne has more depth compared to Malaysia, where everyone here consumes coffee for the sake of consuming coffee. We talked about his struggles in securing Caucasian clients instead of more Asian couples in his efforts to diversify his portfolio. We talked about how BRATS is truly one of the very few establishments that have nailed minimalist industrial chic, before agreeing that one of the best things of living in temperate climates is the ability to dress in layers. Oh how I do miss putting on cardigans that don’t keep me warm but give others the impression I know what the hell I’m doing with my wardrobe.
Before long, we parted company. He to make more coffee with what little supplies he had left till the evening, and I to rush to an art gallery before it closes for the day, but not before we followed each other on Instagram, which was how we said we’d keep in touch.
My trip to BRATS had been a fruitful one as I got to take lots of photographs (although it’s driving me crazy how the white half of the walls looks grey on my screen…) so if you’re ever in Taman Paramount, do drop by for a visit. Order a hot dog or two and pair them with the beer available on the menu.
Alright, I’m off for now. It’s half past four in the morning and I’ll only get a couple of hours of sleep at this rate. Coming up this weekend: The National Visual Arts Gallery. Until then, good night!