At The Banyan Tree Phuket
Open time: Sunday Brunch 11.30am-3.30pm
Resevation: Tel: 0 7637 2400www.banyantree.com
Indoor and open-air restaurant overlooking the lagoon, surrounded by water. A perfect venue to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast buffet or dine on Mediterranean concept cuisine.
Established 22 years ago, Banyan Tree was then the only resort on Bang Tao Beach. Now joined by many others, it remains an international symbol of luxury living. The refurbished The Watercourt is part of its ceaseless striving for excellence. Service, ambience and food are impeccable.
The menu is comprehensive, while the wine list (equally wide-ranging) boasts, for instance, more than 50 reds, including classics such as Chateau Latour. As an aperitif, I choose a white Thai wine, a Gran Monte sauvignon blanc which is pale and citrusy with the food, a full-bodied Delicato cabernet sauvignon from California.
The open kitchen is next to a welcoming dining area with mirrored columns and picture windows. The whole culinary process can be observed on a huge television screen. But executive chef Alfonso de la Dehesa from Spain provides a personal touch by recommending house specialities.
The emphasis is on widely sourced fish and seafood. An international cuisine, with some genuflections to Europe; Fruits of the Sea features oysters from France, California and Ireland. My friend chooses salade Niçoise, a delicious confection with seared yellow fin tuna, potatoes, quails eggs, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. The dressing is a tangy red berry vinaigrette. Keeping to the Spanish theme, my selection from Starter Plates (six of them seafood specials, including prawns pil pil and seafood croquettes with aioli) is Mallorca seafood zarzuela, “a thick stew served with prawns, snapper, mussels, squid and a hint of saffron”. The zesty, reduced broth is poured from a jug.
For main course, my partner selects linguine vongole, “pasta and clams with a splash of white wine and tomatoes”. Rich and satisfying. At Chef Alfonso’s suggestion, I try the seafood market selectionseven different fish cod, Dover sole, hake, John Dory, salmon, tuna and white snapper. Guests can choose both the cooking method and the side order. My hake, a huge chunk of fish, separates into flakes of succulent white flesh and is ideally complemented by buttery mashed potato, asparagus and broccoli. To finish, a perfect crème brûlée.
Oh, and by the way, The Watercourt will offer Sunday Seafood brunch from November. Something to look forward to….