I happened to be chatting with a good friend of mine, veteran Boeing 747-400 Chief Test Pilot, Captain S. Rajan, in the lobby of the Le Meridien Hotel in Bangkok over a glass of fine Red Wine. We were both attending the renowned IT&CMA and CTW (Corporate Travel World) event for the MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and exhibitions). It was there that Captain Rajan bumped into Monsieur Simon Cote, the Food and Beverage Manager at the Plaza Athenne Bangkok at the Royal Meridien. Monsieur Cote presented the showcase eatery at the Le Meridien, the Reflexions restaurant that offers contemporary European cuisine located at the 3rd floor of this fine gem of a hotel.
From my experience as a travel writer, the difference between an average quality restaurant and an outstanding quality restaurant is that the outstanding quality restaurant provides an experience that leaves a lasting good impression on the customer’s mind.
After all, in life, it only takes one chance to make a lasting impression.
Sometimes, you get a restaurant that has the quality food but the environment is gloomy, or perhaps the background music goes totally against the ethos of the cuisine, or even worse if the colors’ of the walls are totally unmatchable to the environment- or a combination of all of these factors. Though a bit quiet during the weekdays, the Reflexions has a neat blend of soothing background music, lovely ambiance, and a smooth creation of colors’ that do not put you off your food.
Music is an important part of a restaurant’s existence- if you have it too loud, you may create an uncomfortable environment, and equally well if it is too quiet it will seem rather dull. Not only that but also the type of music. The worst case scenario is to have lovely food, and it’s all spoiled by music that’s perhaps suited for something else! Well, of course if the food is what matters more than the décor than that has to be a good thing.
Nevertheless, after spending around three hours to experience the full seven course meal, I can say with confidence that one cannot be disappointed with Reflexions. The fact that the Reflexions are located in the La Meridien, ahead of all the over-sexed gastro- places, is a breath of fresh air in itself. Its not exactly plush high in its prices, yet it presents fabulous food and is not over-rated at all.
I asked the Chef De Cuisine, Monsieur Thibault Chiumenti, to present us with a surprise dinner, and he did not disappoint. The meal commenced with a healthy portion of Tartare de saumon et petits légumes en crudités (Salmon tartar with baby raw sliced végétales). The Salmon blends in well with the crunchiness of the vegetables which is good because the flavor of the fish is not too strong then. The presentation was immaculate- one cannot go wrong when both Monsieur Chiumenti and Monsieur Cote are on show in the house.
The detail to attention is a key to the success of the Reflexions restaurant- and this was perfectly portrayed with the next dish, the Trio de foie gras Terrine avec échalotes confit au vin rouge, poêlé avec mangue et fumé avec une chutney de fruit (Terrine with shallot confit in red wine, pan seared with mango, smoked with exotic fruit chutney). Chef Thibault Chiumenti changes the dishes every two or three months, however visitors can guarantee that they will try some of the best European cuisine that can be found in this part of the world. His dishes are delicate and well balanced.
With a well planned layout that includes an open-plan kitchen, where diners can watch the chefs at work, the gastro result of the Reflexions is one that combines theatre with an interactive atmosphere. This should let the diner be fooled because the food is indeed a trademark as were about to see with the third course- Noix de St - Jacques à la truffe noire, endive au jambon blanc de Paris rôti, petite salade printanière et émulsion d’amande (Pan seared scallops with black truffle, endive wrap with Paris ham, spring salad and almond emulsion). All I can say about this wonderful dish is that it is brilliant, rich, full of flavor and color; and with no end to luxury. You can’t go wrong with a dish that has a perfect blend of design and gastro architecture all in one.
If you ever wanted to try one of the divine créations to grace a restaurant table, the nit has to be the Velouté d’asperges vertes et petit champignons, gnocchi de ricotta et huile de truffe blanche (Green asparagus veloute with baby mushroom,ricotta gnocchi veloute and white truffle oil). The restaurant’s modern style certainly matches the food. This creative and experimental approach to presenting food in a picturesque way must be one of the finest inspirations provided by any chef.
In my opinion the most extraordinary, thought provoking dish to grace the table that night must have been the Filet de daurade royale piqué d’olives rôties, coulis de poivron jaune, légumes au goût provençal et ail confit (Filet of sea bream pick with olives Yellow capsicum coulis, vegetables with Provencal flavor and confit garlic). If you ever wanted to write a book simply based on the color, the flavor, the smell and the gorgeous presentation of a dish, this it has to be this one. It goes without saying that this dish was simply refined and perfected to minute detail. It really was so impressive that I cannot find anything wrong to write about it.
It’s difficult to resist temptations such as the uniquely created Caviar de mangue épicé (Spicy Mango Caviar). The Caviar was presented complete with a rectangular slab of ice so as to keep it fresh and kind to the tongue!
I usually find Lamb meat highly unattractive- not just because of the chewy taste but also its harsh smell- and I usually try to refrain myself from even going anywhere near Lamb meat. However, I was in for a wonderful surprise when Chef Thibault Chiumenti presented the rather colorful Filet d’agneau aux herbes fraichespanier de petits légumes du marché et courgette farci (Fresh herbs coated lamb loin,basket of baby vegetables from the market and stuffed zucchini). He definitely gave the dish a complete “Wow!” factor. The brightly colored lamb, complete with the red tender meat, and the surrounding Green fresh herbs, is worth indulging into. If only I could find lamb meat presented to me like this on every occasion I was to eat this meat, then I think I would not have such a hurtful feeling towards it. I loved this dish. The meat was tender, slightly, and not too bland either. It just simply designed to make you smile every time you take a bite- and that’s what makes a perfect experience at the Reflexions in Bangkok.