What’s more, during these leaner months, restaurants are even more eager to please and able to lavish more attention and personal service on their local customers.
This is especially true of the Sunday Brunch scene, which sees the top resorts battle it out to provide incredible buffet offerings to attract the fickle expat crowd who, especially at this time of year, are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options.
A case in point is Banyan Tree’s “Go Live” Sunday Brunch – a fixture on Phuket’s brunch calendar for many years – which combines live jazz, live lobsters and live cooking stations to create a fun and relaxed buffet experience.
Although I have been to Banyan Tree on several other occasions for some of their semi-regular guest chef masterclasses, last Sunday (July 23) was my first visit to Watercourt restaurant, which hosts their “Go Live” brunch.
Set on the edge of one of the resort’s many placid lagoons, Watercourt has a large air-conditioned indoor section as well as alfresco tables surrounding the waterside bar where you can order drinks while watching a pontoon boat ferry guests to their villas.
With no rain in sight, it was quite a warm day, so we opted to stay inside – which has the upside of keeping you closer to the huge circular bed of ice heaped with seafood at the centre of the buffet.
Filled with Alaskan crab legs, mussels, Canadian lobsters, freshly shucked oysters, it’s easy to see why it’s the star attraction of the buffet, but it by no means exhausts the selection.
After we were seated and ordered our drinks, I opted for some sparkling fermented grape juice, while my companion had a fresh coconut.
Executive Sous Chef Kreaton Cutajar came to our table, welcomed us and asked if their was anything we would like to order off the à la carte menu.
As it was my first visit, he suggested we try the Lobster Thermidor. And as this month’s special menu item, foie gras, I jumped at his suggestion of foie gras on brioche with pistachio and mango salsa.
As you can probably guess, my theory of restaurants pulling out all the stops to impress in the green season was starting to form at this point – we hadn’t even made it to the buffet yet!
So while we waited for our dishes to arrive, my companion and I headed to the buffet so see what else was in store.
Being a sucker for fresh bread and good cheese, I soon had a plate filled with fluffy dinner rolls, Camembert, Gouda, salami and pastrami.
My companion is more of a fish fan, so she plated up a bento box worth of tuna and salmon sashimi and a selection of sushi.
Before long our lobster and foie gras had arrived and we dug in. The creamy sauce was delicious and lobster had the firm texture that only the freshest lobster has.
The (thankfully) moderate portion of rich pan-seared foie gras was delightfully cut by the fruity flavour of the mango and pistachio – a perfect balance.
For the sake of brevity, I’m compressing what was in fact a rather long – almost three-hour brunch – we felt in no hurry to leave and we noticed several tables come and go over our very relaxed session.
The Banyan Tree staff were the epitome of hospitality, not once did I have to even look for a waitress, they anticipated our every move, filling glasses and clearing plates whenever it was needed.
Suffice to say we grazed on the various sections of the buffet, which includes pasta stations, grilled Australian steak and lamb cooked to order, lobster Pad Thai, and of course a bewildering array of desserts – small enough so that you could sample a few different ones without letting any go to waste.
Last but not least, once brunch was over, the team of talented therapists from Banyan Tree Spa were on hand to offer complimentary neck and shoulder massages, which as I found out, are included in every brunch package.
Needless to say, we were very sated and relaxed by the time we glided out to our valet parked car and headed home to enjoy the rest of our blissful Sunday.
In fact it was so nice, I think we might brave the crowds and go again this coming high season.
The Banyan Tree’s “Go Live” Sunday Brunch packages start at B2,800 for their Classic Brunch, their Premium Brunch is B3,400 with selected drinks and their Exclusive Brunch is B4,000 with premium drinks. For more information please call (076) 372 400 or email FB-Phuket@banyantree.com