Bangkok Post reviews
A breath of fresh heather
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: December 15, 2011 at 10:38 am
A new head chef from Scotland rejigs regular all-day and Christmas & New Year dining at The Square with ravishing results
Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square has quietly been doing some very good business on the transfer market that characterises the international hospitality industry in a similar way to the world of soccer. What's more, its latest transfer target, 28-year-old Lisa Shields from Glasgow, would appreciate the allusion, as she confesses to being a fan of the Scottish Premier League, when not cooking up a storm, that is.
Completing her chef apprenticeship at Motherwell College in 2003, Lisa, indeed a bonny lass who calls to mind the heather of her homeland more than the weather, followed up with three years gaining experience at prestigious hotels and restaurants around Scotland which, lucky for her, is rather better recognised for its gourmet accenting than its notoriously hit-and-miss southern neighbour. Then she headed Downunder where she wound up in the senior position of chef de partie at Sofitel Gold Coast, like Novotel an Accor property.
Along the way, she has accumulated more expertise in all day a la carte and buffet dining than most chefs do in a lifetime. But when The Square came calling with the chance to work in exotic (sort of) Bangkok, she was easily persuaded to sign, and thus the Novotel stole her from under the noses of many other prestigious establishments that would also have liked to immediately thrust her into their starting line-ups.
And she duly wasted no time in taking charge. "I started by making the buffet more noticeable," she explained unambiguously. New dishes and crockery were purchased accordingly. Like a true team player, Lisa also got to work with the staff, in particular expanding their expertise in Western-style dishes, teaching different cooking methods and presentation techniques. As such, the buffet is now manifestly as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach.
Then she went on to further accentuate The Square's core interactive dining experience, making the split between dishes prepared on the spot to order, whether grills, noodles, sashimi or whatever, and those already arrayed in small quantities, favour the former. As such, you can order all sorts of stuff according to your own taste; a thicker slice of this, more sauce with that, hold the onions, heavy on the chilli and so on.
Regularly rotated highlights include Halal, Italian, Thai and Japanese corners. The house-smoked salmon, darker in colour, more tender and richer in flavour than usual, is another must-try. Desserts are also amazing, as you would expect from a hotel housing one of Bangkok's best bakeries, La Brioche.
Seafood lovers should swing by on Thursday evenings for expanded ranges of local and imported items, including shell fish, crab, fish, prawns and squid, both steamed and grilled in the live kitchen and forming the basis of some terrific dishes.
Meanwhile, Sunday Brunch offers a wide selection of salads, seafood, desserts, bakery specialties and homemade ice-creams while a magician and games entertain the kids.
Now Lisa has turned her attention to the Christmas and New Year festivities. Christmas has been given the impressive title of "Le Grand Buffet du Reveillon de Noel" while the New Year's Eve display falls within the ambit of the hotel's "Glimmering Glamour Party".
Among the new dishes to look forward to at Christmas is Roast turkey stuffed with chestnut, cranberry and apple, with roast vegetables and cranberry sauce. This is a masterful take on the traditional Christmas turkey that should be as much to the taste of those who are not particularly impressed by the big birds as those who worship them. Essentially, you have the best meat, the breast, arranged around a gourmandise stuffing that takes the form of a mousse made with egg white and cream, into which is mixed turkey, apples, roasted chestnuts, onion and garlic. This is slowly steamed in the oven, briefly pan-fried to crispen the skin, sliced into medallions and garnished with whole cranberries and cranberry sauce. Call it an elaborate turkey roll, if you will. The point is that it is succulent, aromatic and absolutely delicious.
Nor will beef-lovers be disappointed with Lisa's tenderloin fillet crusted with chestnuts and almonds and served with red wine sauce, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and candied chestnuts. Smokily seared on all sides, tender, flavourful and delectably complemented by the rich sauce, this is beef more than worthy of the big occasion.
"Our Christmas menu will still have a lot of traditional things like turkey but also lots of fish and some Thai influence," adds Lisa, citing river prawns poached in mulled wine as a prime example. "It's Christmassy with a modern take and with a little bit of Thai in there as well."
Guests will be welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine, then tuck into the turkey, river prawns, grilled ham, prime rib, smoked salmon and New Zealand oysters while Santa will be there to distribute candies and treats among the youngsters. Also expect lots for dessert, including Christmas pudding, Yule logs, chocolate mousse pudding and tons more.
As for New Year's Eve, the special menu has a big roast theme, with a groaning carving station, but also whole baked fish. Lots of seafood, selections of Thai dishes, lots of cold cuts and myriad other dishes are also on offer.
Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square's The Square restaurant has been a successful concept from the get-go, as testified to by the fact that it now graces Novotels around the world. However, Lisa's influence shows that there is always room for innovation and improvement and the proof of the pudding, as they say, is very much in the eating.
NOVOTEL BANGKOK ON SIAM SQUARE.
Siam Square Soi 6, Bangkok.
Tel. 02 209 8888
Lunch 11.30 a.m. - 3.00 p.m.
Dinner 6.00 p.m. - 10.30 p.m.
Thursday Seafood Buffet Dinner
6.00 p.m. - 10.30 p.m.@Baht 950++
(free flow of selected beer and wines @Baht 690 Baht nett)
Sunday Brunch 11.30 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.
@Baht 899*(for adult)
(free flow of selected beer and wines @Baht 690 Baht nett)
(two children under 12 years free when accompanied by two paying adults)
Christmas’s Eve/New Year’s Eve
Dinner (Sat Dec 24/Sat Dec 31)
Christmas’s Day Brunch / NewYear’s
Day Brunch (Sun Dec 25/ Sun Jan 1, 2012) Baht 1,100++*
- Complimentary for children below 6 years accompanied by parents; children aged 6-12 years Baht 600 including 1 soft drink.