Is “Flare” the tops?

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There is always healthy competition at the top end of the fine dining scene, especially in Pattaya where there are many restaurants offering excellent dining for their patrons.  This week we re-visited and reviewed the Flare restaurant in the Hilton Pattaya, after receiving news of a menu with several new items.

Flare has been in operation for only nine months and we did review it back then, giving it a good report card, but it was obvious that it was very new at that stage.  I also recognize that many readers have not been there yet, but when you do you will immediately feel you are someone ‘special’.

You are greeted at the entrance and then escorted into the restaurant, going around the glass-walled, temperature controlled wine cellar and then to your table.  The lighting is subdued, and the predominant color is black, but there is illumination for your table, yet still ensuring privacy.  The chairs are comfortable and at the correct height relative to the table.  Get yourself comfy, as you will already feel this will be a special evening.

We sat back with a cocktail each, a “Professor Herry” for Madame (Cachaca rum, tequila, pineapple juice and lime juice) and a “Freddy Eynsford” for me (vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime juice) and then discussed our preferences for our dinner with Maitre d’ Sunny.

With Alaskan king crab on the menu that evening, my choice was easy, with the hamachi fish and Alaskan king crab ceviche on a red capsicum gazpacho, avocado, cherry tomatoes and coriander leaves.

Madame, who enjoys duck, agreed with Sunny’s suggestion of the slow roasted marinated imported duck breast with pan seared foie gras, soft polenta, fava beans, vanilla turnip, red cherries, with a crispy ginger and port wine reduction.  To go with the appetizers, the Sandalford Element Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon sounded good, and was good.

A soup course was suggested and Madame was attracted to the cream of porcini soup, with braised artichoke heart, rocket and parmesan and for me it was the Maine lobster bisque with pan roasted lobster ragout, tarragon cream and Avruga ‘caviar’.

Not only were the soups of high standard, but they were brought to the table where they were then poured into pre-warmed bowls with full ceremony, making sure the soups were hot to the table.  Loved the ‘theater’ and the soups were excellent.

The next decision was the main course, and again Sunny was in his element, and with Madame wishing for seafood, the seafood mixed grille was suggested which consisted of a platter of seafood with dipping sauces featuring: Maine lobster, giant tiger prawn, grilled snow fish in banana leaf and Atlantic salmon.  It tasted as good as it reads, Madame assured me.  I, being a carnivore, selected the 400 gm T-bone which was tender and flavorsome, and as a special treat from Chef Tofu I sampled a fire grill corn fed chicken breast marinated with fresh coriander, garlic, black pepper and wrapped in banana leaf.  Excellent.

The wine chosen was the Slent Pinotage Shiraz, a South African red which was very pleasant indeed, and served at the correct temperature.

Flare has settled down in the nine months, and the staff are confident of their product, but what really came across was the enthusiasm for their product.  That included Chef Tofu as well.  In particular, Maitre d’ Sunny just exuded enjoyment at serving his clients (and the restaurant was almost full on the night we dined there).  The enthusiasm is infectious, and just heightens the enjoyment of the entire evening.  In fact, I would go so far as to suggest you tell Sunny what kind of food you would like to eat (meat, fish or whatever), and follow his suggestions from there.  We did!

I would have to say that the total dining experience at the Hilton’s Flare restaurant puts it right at the top of the fine dining choices in Pattaya.  I can recommend it without any hesitation.

Flare Restaurant, 15th floor Hilton Pattaya, above the Central Festival Center, Beach Road.  Open seven days for dinner 6.30 p.m. until 11.30 p.m.  Valet parking from the Welcome Lobby ground floor.  Booking recommended 038 253 000.