The Beach House, Anantara The Palm
Arriving at the Anantara Hotel was like being transported back to the shores of the Chao Phraya River, lit up at night by the starry lights of Bangkok in the background. An uber authentic and friendly "Sa-wad-dee-kaa" walking into the lobby re-affirmed the love we have for Thailand, and instantly reminded us of the culinary adventures we have enjoyed there over the years.
Our waitress for the evening, although very polite, had the very distinct look on her face of a rabbit caught in the headlights of an onrushing 4x4 on Sheikh Zayed Road. This could be due to the fact that we were on time (Mr and Mrs Brunch are NEVER late for Brunch…) and there was a general air of unpreparedness about the place. After prompting our waitress, she nervously informed us of the various packages and we took ourselves off to explore the large, hollow conference-style room which had been converted for the night into the cold starter buffet.
While the selection here was by no means vast, what they did have was of outstanding quality. We started with a Creamy Celeriac & Truffle Soup which oozed warmth and depth of flavour, and a selection from the impressive bread display. Much to Mrs Brunch's delight, they even had pink, heart shaped bread which was soft, warm and waxy on the lips…novelty value aside of course. The other dishes of note for their simple effectiveness and quality of ingredients were the Salmon and Green Bean Salad which was seasoned to perfection, the Mediterranean Salad, and the Beetroot and Blue Cheese Salad.
Over at the ice statue seafood section, there were freshly Poached and Peeled Prawns, Scallops, Mussels, Clams & Oysters which were shucked to order in front of us by the chef….a nice touch.
We then moved onto the outdoor terrace which tonight played host to the BBQ Grill section and an eclectic range of accompanying sauces. This included tender cuts of Rump Steak, juicy Lamb Chops, Chicken Supreme, Grilled Tiger Prawns, Salmon Steak and a Local Fish which our friendly chef explained was similar in taste to Sea Bass. There was also a healthy supply of trimmings to supplement the BBQ items, including Dauphinoise Potatoes, Mixed Winter Vegetables, Ratatouille, and an extraneous Butter Chicken Curry, which seemed to have been included almost as an afterthought, or to prevent the space at the end of the table looking empty.
A simple affair here. We could either choose Wine or Beer as spirits were available, but at an additional cost. We started, as is our custom with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but later found out from our not so informative waitress that sparkling wine was also included. Feeling hard done by, we partook of a few glasses as we felt it rude to pass on the bubbles on such an auspicious occasion! There were a few instances of prompting using the combination of empty glass and puppy dog eyes, however as the evening progressed and the waitress finally found her stride, the service became a lot more consistent.
The night stated with a female DJ playing subtle tracks in the background. Although in truth, I could not tell whether she was actually DJ'ing, or simply placed there for decoration with a pre-recorded CD, due to her lack of interaction and connectivity with her surroundings. Once she had finished her 2 hour slot, we were joined by a female singer and a male guitarist in what can only be described as a scene from "The Love Boat". The choice of songs were straight from the 80's collection of cheesy songs for Love, and unfortunately the pair had neither the charisma, nor the talent to pull it off. Regrettably, they reduced the atmosphere to what can only be described as a mix between that awkward wedding singer who sings inappropriate songs at a funeral wake and interrupting your parents in a more "intimate" moment. The embarrassment in the room was so palpable it was almost but not quite comedic. That being said, the view and the effort that went into the décor completely overcompensated for these minor glitches.
Set on the shores of The Palm, the Beach House has a serene "last night on holiday" feel to it, which set on top of the Valentines themed table decorations of scattered rose petals, rouge candles, glistening pearls and heart shaped balloons added a warmth, whilst tip toeing ever so closely on the border of cliché. The undeniable beauty of the location reminds us just how lucky we are to have places like this on our doorstep.
We have to stress that the Brunch we attended was more of a pop-up Brunch, solely set up for Valentines Day (and other special days) rather than figuring as a regular occurrence, and it would be unfair to judge this experience in line with a restaurant which is used to putting this type of event on every week. Nonetheless, we had high expectations from this hotel and definitely expected more from this particular outlet in terms of the food and beverage selection for the price, and if they are to repeat this kind of event, they must take the time to ensure that all staff are painstakingly prepared in line with their hotels lofty standards, having experienced them both here, and in Thailand.
We look forward to returning to the Hotel to sample one of their regular Brunches, either Cresendo, or Bushmans Lazy Saturday Lunch which will hopefully allow them to shine. Unfortunately on this occasion, the location of the Beach House, rather than the content of the Brunch (particularly the entertainment) leave a lot to be desired and it sits firmly in the zone of Style over Substance.