Bangkok Post reviews
In the prime of life
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: March 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm
Riverside steakhouse improves with age while expanding its repertoire
The 72-seat Prime restaurant in semiformal setting still retains its charm and warm ambience.
This is very Krungthep _ gastronomically modern yet ingeniously exotic. Here we were at Prime savouring some of the most sophisticated steak dinners and 15m below was the glittering Chao Phraya alive with evening commuters on shuttle boats.
My recent visit to the Millennium Hilton's steakhouse was truly pleasant. Homely in the heart, worldly on the palate.
Right after its debut in 2006, the 72-seat establishment quickly became treasured by red meat apostles for its wholesome fine steak dining offered in a semi-formal setting. Over the past few years, however, I wouldn't be surprised if someone had suggested that Prime had plunged in times of political and economic distress.
But the reality before me proved nothing except that the seven-year-old restaurant has improved with age.
Grilled halibut fillet with corn grits, caramelised onions and whisky cream.
Prime is a steakhouse by nature. But today the macho-portioned Black Angus steak that typically follows a platter of crab cake and bowl of lobster bisque (though always available and very popular) aren't the only signatures it boasts.
Highlights of the 80-item menu now include options that cater to those looking for an escape from the unrelenting procession of red-meat feasting. Various types of seafood, prepared and presented in a five-star cosmopolitan fashion, are treated as key ingredients in many appetisers and entrees, which together can form a guiltless beef-free meal.
For keen beef addicts, however, the restaurant has recently added a selection of Miyazaki wagyu, one of Japan's finest brands, to the varieties of USDA-certified American Black Angus and Australian Tajima. Aged to perfection, the beef is grilled in a wood-fired oven enhanced with aromatic wood chips (hickory, mesquite, Jack Daniel's and cherry wood) to lend a distinctive savour to the meat.
A dinner at Prime usually begins with complimentary amuse bouche. That evening we were treated to pan-seared rock lobster with parsley sauce in a rocking glass tumbler.
The delightful opening act was followed by a handsome serving of piping hot focaccia and whole wheat bread accompanied by house-blended butter.
Roasted lamb loin with young garlic and goat cheese, served with herb bouquet lamb jus.
From the menu, we were suggested to kick off our meal with a newly listed creation: Japanese sea scallop with lychee, mango tartare and caviar (990 baht). The generous portioned dish presented ceviche-style Hokkaido scallops tossed with chopped sweet mango in a pool of fruity emulsion, which, thanks to its refreshingly subtle combination of salty, sweet and tangy flavours, memorably enriched the delicate shellfish.
An equally brilliant appetiser was baked snail in champignons (790 baht). Bathed in creamy green parsley sauce, six large mushrooms came topped with escargot cooked in garlic whipped butter encircling a small portion of herb salad. The supple and flavoursome mushrooms intermingled perfectly with the French snails, while the medley of parsley, dill, mint and celery leaves gave a superb herbal smack to the buttery fare.
From an impressive range of signature entrees, we passed the likes of Tournedos Rossini and snow fish with grenobloise sauce to settle for the whisky-smoked grilled halibut fillet with corn grits, caramelised onions and whisky cream (1,950 baht).
For me, whisky and cream are a god-given pair. And when the sweet and aromatic duo were employed to lend a rich touch to the non-fatty fillet of the firm fish, together they created a delicacy ideal for diners who shun oily seafood but never compromise on sumptuous taste bud-pleasure.
Japanese sea scallop with lychee, mango tartare and caviar.
Another entree we sampled was roasted lamb loin with young garlic and goat cheese (1,950 baht). A trio of nice and lean blocks of meat were masterly grilled to our preference _ medium well _ and served with herb bouquet lamb jus. Even after being left on the table for at least 10 minutes (sorry chef, we were too busy chit-chatting), the lamb still nicely retained its succulency and distinct taste enhanced by the thick sweet and salty glaze.
They say that the heavenly flavour of beef lies in its fat, and this has been proved true over and over again. Yet no verification seemed as illustrious as my experience with the Miyazaki strip loin I had at Prime that evening.
Priced 4,500 baht for a 260g portion which is ideal for sharing among two guests, the medium-cooked steak, which looked very lean, revealed inside transparent flecks of fat (so much so that they're hard to detect with the eyes of the half-discerning) that wonderfully burst open the naturally sweet and savoury fatty flavour in the mouth.
Forget the condiments (the restaurant has 11 options of sauce, from Bearnaise and foie gras bordelaise to Madeira and truffle reduction and red wine sauce), the super tender and flavourful Miyazaki steak seasoned with only a few grains of salt was indeed to die for.
Prime may hold the record of a five-star steakhouse with the most side dishes. Its two dozen choices (150 to 300 baht per generous-sized order) include parmesan gnocchi, mashed ratte potatoes, roasted topinambur (sunchoke) and salsify, gratineed Romaine lettuce hearts, onion rings and fresh artichoke barigoule _ all of which we tried and were truly gratified by.
For the sweet ending, we waived the best-selling chocolate fondant cake and took a lighter option: fresh strawberries, chantilly cream and meringue (450 baht). It was a nice choice to wrap up the girls' night-out, simply featuring an assortment of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) with silky thick cream and brittle meringue.
The steakhouse also offers a private room-cum-wine cellar where up to 10 guests can dine among an inventory of 200 bottles of fine labels.