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A Meal With: Fine dining gone viral

To say that we live in challenging times is a bit like saying Donald Trump may not be the smartest kid on the block – a huge understatement. The COVID-19 viral crisis has exploded with unprecedented speed and venom hitting every aspect of Phuket life, none more so than the all-important tourist industry and within that our once- thriving fine dining sector.

By Baz Daniel

Sunday 12 April 2020, 11:00AM

As I write this, all restaurants have had to temporarily close and while many fine dining establishments around the Andaman had already put in place some excellent initiatives to protect the health and wellbeing of their customers, how will this sector cope once it re-opens to life in the “new normal” with COVID-19 as an ongoing factor?

Not many weeks ago the main challenge to enjoying Phuket’s multiplicity of fine dining options was choosing from the abundance of tantalising cuisines, locations, views, ambiances, styles, price-points and complementary drinks lists available.

Once the sector re-opens, hopefully in a just few weeks’ time, the challenge will be firstly to steel yourself to go out to dine at all, and also to find a conducive location offering healthy, immunity-boosting cuisine in an environment that is safe and allows sufficient social distancing!

However, the reality is that in Phuket we are actually spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous indoor/outdoor restaurant settings, which facilitate the flow of fresh clean breezes, abundant space for sensible social distancing, and food choices which are both healthy and contain many ingredients that are scientifically proven to enhance our immune systems.

Counter-intuitive though it may be, going out for a fine meal in lovely surroundings and a bit of banter with your pals may be exactly what that harried doctor would actually have suggested, had she had a spare moment to see you!

There’s ample research proving that fresh, healthy foods, upbeat social interaction, enlivening beach and waterside locales, and even the anti-oxidant resveratrol found in the red, grape-based complementary beverage which often goes with this attractive package, will all boost your immune system, making you stronger, more virus-resistant and enhancing your mental outlook.

Think of Phuket’s booming beach club scene where internationally-famous outlets like Xana, Catch, Dream, Café del Mar and HQ Beach Clubs offer fabulous healthy food, in equally fabulous, healthy surroundings!

They also tend to be situated in large open, well-ventilated spaces, where social distancing (should that be your choice!) is easy and you can even get a well aerated work-out by dancing to the pulsating beats with sand between your toes and a new moon rising above the palm fronds!

Or think of legendary beachside restaurants offering outside terraces such as at the Boathouse on Kata; Kata Rocks poolside; Mom Tri’s Villa Royale overlooking Kata Noi; and the Nai Harn’s Rock Salt, Hansha and Cosmo restaurants all overlooking Nai Harn Beach. Each of these fabulous outlets enable you to dine on healthy cuisine on an outdoor terrace, where social distancing is easy, invigorating island breezes keep you well ventilated, while you gaze upon the most fabulous island vistas. Just what the doctor might have ordered!

One of the most inspiring initiatives within the fine dining ambit comes from Bart Dykers and Thomas Brack who own and manage the 9th Floor restaurant in Patong, surely one of Phuket’s most ground-breaking eateries since its launch in 2003.

Bart told us: “When we re-open the 9th Floor our greatest priority is that our guests and team members feel safe and secure in our restaurant and to ensure this, we have put in place enhancements to our already rigorous cleaning regimen.

“Everyone, including guests and team members, will have easy access to health stations with hand wipes, hand soap and hygiene gel, while all kitchen staff and food-handlers wear gloves and respiratory protection at all times.

“All areas of the restaurant are regularly and thoroughly cleaned to the highest standards, paying special attention to high-touch areas such as door handles, elevator button, etc.

“Ongoing training and staff meetings will continue to ensure that team members are fully prepared to provide information and updates to our guests and we will also ensure that the table next to the yours stays empty so we can secure a safe distance between our guests.”

Let us all hope that fine dining in Phuket re-opens very soon and we are able to recommence enjoying one of those very rare things in life… an activity which is both immensely pleasurable and very good for us at the same time!

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