Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Frangipani, The Grand Old Dame of Changkat

The iconic Frangipani, ...sigh, a wave of nostalgia sweeps over me.  I think it was one of the pioneer, if not THE pioneer restaurant and bar along that Changkat road, that subsequently spawned an entire Bohemian street, of eclectic outlets ranging from Cigar Bars to Spanish Pork places.  But Frangipani, blows me back to circa 2002, when I met Nestle Nick, and this was his favourite restaurant.  He used to RAVE about the Sabayon desserts, and well, unfortunately digital photography was not as rampant as it is now, so I have no real photographic evidence.  And then of course there's the iconic BAR upstairs, where a certain Long Island Tea drink was named after two friends, Mario & Brian.  Many a time have groups of friends tumbled out of that bar in a state that would make a sailor blush.

When Carole Sai & Elfie  of Salina & Associates PR asked if I would like to try out the dinner at Frangi, I replied with the enthusiasm of a starving child given a tub of Haagen Daz.  It was with great anticipation that I dragged my date along, (she rarely follows for any of these food outings, as it's best to keep them under lock and key, and slim), having followed a number of instagram posts from Ciki of CC Food and Travel and Kelly Siew the week before.

The lovely interior and courtyard pool.  It's impressive that given the price of real estate in these parts these days, they have chosen beauty over function, when clearly, they could have increased the number of tables by getting rid of the pool, but it adds immeasurably to the ambience of the place, and actually (gasp, don't ever quote me), makes it one of the more romantic places for dinner.

Azmi, one of the bosses, warmly welcomed us, and we were ushered to our table, where we were served attentively by the very friendly Sommelier.  The freshly baked bread, accompanied with truffle butter, (they actually sell these by the block, if you call ahead to order), what can I say, a treat to the palate.  If my tongue were a dancer, it will be dancing on the moon.  I love butter, and when it is married to truffle, I love it even more.  I won't mind having a simple dinner of truffle butter, bread and soup.

Our very professional Sommelier, Shah, hailing all the way from Pakistan.

To start and titillate the palate, a glass of bubbly in the form of Castillo Perelada, Semi Seco Cava.  Nothing like a glass of bubbly to set the mood really.

We were told that our dinner was to be from the Signature Menu, which would usually cost RM195, sans wine.  The menu looked impressive, but over and above that, we were privileged to sample some extras that were not part of the Signature Menu.

A mushroom soup shooter, which went deliciously with the Cava, and the truffle butter and bread.
To accompany our next dish, which was the Prawn Carpaccio, was the Joseph Drouhin Saint Veran 2011, a crisp white that to me was like my favourite Sauvignon Blanc, which paired perfectly with the raw prawny goodness of the carpaccio.

Served with Shrimp Out, Pesto and Mashed Avocado.  The texture was amazing, and even the Date who is usually queasy about eating raw prawns, found it interesting, both in taste and texture.

By this time, the very generous portions of wine were certainly going to my head.  Next up was the Greco Di Tufo Feudi Di San Gregorio 2102, which we shall call Greco for short.  Obviously economy of words isn't a top priority with wine makers.  This was paired with the very interesting Quick Sauteed Baby Squid, which is NOTHING, I can tell you, like our rubbery sotong.  It's almost like the Wagyu of Squid.  Tender, almost melt in the mouth, yet startlingly fresh, as if them babies had been swimming in the Mediterranean the morning before.

Sauteed Baby Squid that were still swimming this morning, probably.  A lovely chopped parsley, garlic, and olive oil combination gives it that wonderful verdant hue, quenelle of mashed potatoes, (I'm learning new words everyday, what the heck is a "quenelle"?) with Aioli and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I love this dish.  When I eat this menu again, I will opt for this, rather than the soup below, which is also very good, but I liked the squid more.

Pumpkin and Ginger soup, with shaved black truffles, truffle oils, edible flowers and crispy croutons.  You can't really go wrong with those ingredients, and it made for a hearty yet elegant soup that yells "fine dining", marrying the familiarity of comfort food with class and style.

And they topped up our truffle butter midway.  Gasp.  I think this was before my blood test.

The White Rioja was paired with these plump, juicy, delightful Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops.  It is always such a rare treat to get seared scallops perfectly done, without being over or undercooked, and this was one of those occasions, although this was the Date's dish, I did get to sample it.

Mine was the Mediterranean Grilled Octopus, with Wasabi Mash, and Spanish Paprika Oil. What is it about the tentacled creatures of the Mediterranean that make them so tender, and sweet, compared to some of the dunlop manufactured squid we get in these parts of the world?

I admit I was a bit disappointed at first that there was no Foie Gras on the Signature menu, but it was as if our host read my mind, and lo and behold, like Christmas coming early, a plate of gorgeously pan seared Foie Gras appears.  At this point, they explain that the Chef's specialty is actually another form of Foie Gras preparation, known as Mi Cuit (half cooked, layers) which you can pre-order.  But oh my, to the foie, to the foie, it's to die foie.

And paired with this sexy fortified wine, ..... I think my vocabulary has been used up.  I can think of no more adjectives.

Grilled Wagyu Rump, Sauteed Vegetables and Romesco Sauce.  My first exposure to romesco was at Cava's new menu relaunch, and have loved it since.  From Wikipedia, Romesco is a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. It is typically made from any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive or sunflower oil, bitxo peppers and/or nyora peppers.

The sauteed baby vegetables were a treat, and I loved the simplicity of the meat.  It's like a beautiful lady who needs no artificial embellishments.

Confit Fillet Of Black Cod, with Organic Corn Cream.  Wifey (previously referred to as "the Date", but in case there is any miscontrued identity, I think I best make it clear).  Superb, down to those bits of loose corn adorning the plate.

The two wines that accompanied our mains, both reds.  It's true, one should not compartmentalize the fish & white, meat and red combination so dogmatically, because this red did work with the cod.

And finally, dessert, with dessert Muscat, which wife loves, but I don't.  Really NOT a fan of dessert wines, no matter how good.  It's a taste my plebian tongue has failed to acquire.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Strawberry and Mint Sauce, ...actually I expected a more fancy name.  This dessert is the bomb!! Who knew that Mint Sauce paired so well with Panna Cotta, when all this while we thought it only went with lamb.  The texture and flavour of the panna cotta was flawless, and truth be told, of the two desserts, I preferred the panna cotta.

Mine was the Torrija Toasted, a traditional Spanish dessert, with some croutons that are akin to French toast, in a Creme Catalana Foam with orange zest.  There's something about foam that doesn't quite do it for me, I feel cheated, like I'm eating air. But taste wise, it was all there.

No need to reinvent the wheel, and Chef  Manuel Lopez Quinones introduction is right here on the menu. He shares that most ingredients, apart from Vegetables, Chicken and Duck, are imported.  Malaysian vegetables, chickens and ducks are of an acceptable quality.

Thanks Chef Manuel for a fabulous meal, that the palate will remember for a long time to come, and to Azmi for your warm hospitality, and to Carole & Elfie for the invite.

25 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur 50200.
Telephone (03) 2144 3001



Ciki said...

Ooo ahpa.. ur looking rounder in the middle again.. like the old FATBOYBAKES i used to know! Good.. don't be too skinny - looks more like a baker this way:P
Bee needs to be kept under lock and key?! rolls eyes.. ur nuts. Loved the foie gras and all the seafood. Frangi's new direction ROCKS, yay!

Kelly Siew said...

Oooooerrrrrssss I got a mention!! :D :D

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